Not everyone starts playing with a perfect badminton backhand
In most cases, you’ll have to wait several years before its as good as your forehand. I’m still waiting 🙂
There is no reason why you can’t use these ideas to improve your backhand and in the short term know how to ‘hide’ this weaker area.
My question to you is how do cope with a weak backhand whilst its “under construction?
What can you do in a game so that it’s difficult for you opponent to find and exploit your backhand?
These tips and advice will give you ideas for practice, to use in match play and hopefully a mindset that will allow you to play well even though your current backhand is weak. Some of these tips will help you improve in the long run, other tips will provide you with tactical advice to immediately make it difficult for your opponents to exploit it.
If you have ideas or strategies of your own it would be great to hear them so we can all share and improve
Please share with your friends and don’t forget to ask your coach if they agree
1. Practice, Practice, Practice
3. Move your stance
4. Cross blocks
5. Hit into their backhand
6. Play a pull/ drag / long drop
1. Practice Practice Practice
Of course, you should practice but my question is what should you practice and how should you practice
Think about how many times you practice your backhand from a tough flat’ ish feed and the shuttle is returned by the feeder (opponent)
I’m guessing that you only practice this stroke once in a while, say every 4 weeks. It really needs to be little and often. 15 mins every other session is a great start. Then spend another 5 – 10 mins at home each week imagining that what that EP (Early Preparation) looks like.
Can you reproduce that “swish” noise when you shadow at home and imaging seeing the shuttle fly fast and flat.
Remember that your 1st backhand is not a soft (floaty) straight drop that lands before the opponents’ service line. Strike it fast and flat !!!
I recommend that you and your coach explore the following ideas when you do any backhand practice.
- Vary the feeding, but generally so that you can’t easily move “around the head” to play a forehand overhead stroke
- You concentrate on strokes that are hit flat, aiming to land just past the opponent’s service line
- You start nearly all the practice rallies. Don’t let your coach just stand there and straight multi-feed
- Your coach/feeder sometimes plays to the net or your deep forehand and not always to your backhand
- You explore starting in a “part preparation” position with the racket head up and your elbow close’ish to your body
- Think of the final movement being like a long net lunge: but backwards
- You concentrate on your successes, the mini improvements, not your errors
When you are in a competitive match the assume that your opponent will play down your backhand.
That’s what they will do if see that you have a weak backhand, you would do the same!
I’ve seen too many young players get stressed and anxious when they realise that the opponent is targeting this area. There are so many things you can do to the opponents tactic against them, or at least neutralise it.
The tips in this post will help, but only if you are work to master a calm, controlled mindset. If you worry or feel anxious then it is going to be tough.
This mental preparation will help you. Expect and then you can now prepare.
3. Move your stance
There are a few occasions when you can intentionally move your stance to reduce the chance that your opponents can “make you play a backhand”
By moving your stance in anticipation, you can also reduce the reasons why your opponents may want to play to that area. Sometimes it will be obvious to them at other times they will read your ‘cues/signals’ and decide to play elsewhere
If you don’t know about stances then look out for a future post that describes the different ways you can stand and position yourself on court. The post will contain the simple rules that will guide you when to use each of the 3 main Badminton Stances.
Here are my quick tips
- After blocking to the net move slightly over towards your backhand court when you take up your forward attacking stance
- After any lifts to their high f/h court (if they are right-handed) move your defensive square stance so that your body is just inside the backhand court.
- The aim of these tips is to make your deep backhand court a smaller target area for them to find. Please don’t keep returning to a centre court position and standing in a square stance !
4. Cross Block from your Backhand side
Yes, it’s as easy as that!
When you can and you think its tactically ok to do so, play backhand cross blocks.
First of all, you must be able to play this stroke from smashes, fast drops and in driving rallies. All three situations are different, so you must practice all three.
Become comfortable with those grip changes, the different ways of holding the racket so that you can easily send the shuttle crosscourt, up and over, away from your backhand rearcourt.
If most of your practice is in half a court then maybe you will not get enough practice crosscourting and trying to ‘hide’ your backhand’. Please use lots of full court movements and strokes in practice.
5. Hit into their backhand
If you are playing tournaments against players of a similar standard then its reasonable to assume that their backhand will be similar your yours. It’s certainly won’t be as good as their forehand.
It’s unlikely that your opponent will have a backhand like Lin Dan or LCW, so aim to exploit it.
If you have a choice then hit it down their backhand side
This sensible reasonable advice is vital for all players under 13 years old. Please try to follow it or pass it on to your young players. It’s so sensible they sometimes forget! 🙂
Using a long smash or long flat clear and try to get the shuttle behind them is a great tactic.
Be aware that if you always smash to the midcourt your opponent may be aware of point no. 5 and they may try to exploit your smash.
A very young player once told me that they didn’t think it was fair to set out to exploit the opponents weak backhand. What would you say as a reply?
6. Play a pull/ drag / long drop
Don’t try to play TIGHT to the net in a backhand drop style.
This what your opponent will be expecting. Can you feel them rushing to the net to kill your floaty backhand drop?
Strike the shuttle so that it travels FAST, FLAT and LONG. Landing just past the opponent’s service line towards their midcourt.
I’ve discovered that this stroke is called different names in Europe. “Drag” “Pull” “Long Drop”, whichever name you use it doesn’t matter they all fly and land in the same way.
Remember these points when you practice
- The aim is to stop your opponent from being able to play a net kill or tight net.
- If you hit it hard enough you will give yourself a better chance of getting it over
- The opponents will have to “wait & decide” what to do next if it’s landing just past their service line
- Strike it from just about your head height and from out to the side
- “Pull” or “Turn” your shoulder as your strike the shuttle
I wish I’d know these things and not tried to teach my young players a Backhand Clear and Tight Drops!
What other Coaches had to say
When I asked other coaches for their advice they mentioned these following concepts. What images and ideas do they create in your mind?
- Don’t low serve from your forehand court, and certainly not wide
- Be aggressive when playing around the head to increase the risk for your opponent playing to that corner
- Make sure to lift deep and long when playing from you backhand net
- Avoid playing too many forehand cross-court shots
- Don’t continuously hit to their backhand but pick and choose the right moments
What would you add to this list?
Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts. I’m sure there are more ways and ideas to hide or make it difficult for your opponent to find your backhand.
Do you have your favourite strategies ? 🙂