The 4 Badminton Serve Types You Need to Know

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Last Updated on 20/12/2023 by Kriss

When stepping onto the badminton court, every serve counts. Whether it’s a high, low, flick, or drive serve, knowing what serve is best in which discipline and situation is important.

In this post, you’ll get insights into how each serve works, why they matter, and when to use them to surprise your opponents. Dive into the specifics of each serve’s mechanics and the tactical scenarios they best suit.

Let’s dive right in!

Key Takeaways

  • The badminton serve is one of the most important parts of the game. It sets the tone for the rally, with the high serve, low serve, and flick serve being the three fundamental techniques to keep opponents on their toes.

  • The forehand high serve is key in singles play for its ability to give you enough time to react, while the low serve is essential in doubles to prevent powerful offensive shots.

  • The drive serve is a fast, low, and flat serve used effectively in doubles to limit opponents’ return options and is best executed when opponents are unprepared or have adapted to regular serves.

Mastering the Serve in Badminton

Serving initiates every rally in a badminton match. You serve diagonally into the opponent’s service court. A serve is legal, when it is executed from your service court and the contact point of the shuttlecock and racket is under 1.15m (3.77 feet).

There are other rules that you need to be aware of, but we won’t go super deep into the details here since we already have a post about service rules.

We cannot stress how important the serve is in badminton. A weak serve provides a golden opportunity for the opponent to attack and end the rally after two strokes.

The four fundamental types of serves in badminton are the high serve, the low serve, the drive serve, and the flick serve.

Let’s take a deeper look at each of them.

The Art of the High Serve

Illustration of the high serve in badminton. Also called long serve.
The long serve goes all the way to the baseline and has a steep trajectory.

We begin with the high serve, also known as the deep or long serve. This is a serve that soars high, deep into the receiver’s backcourt, aiming for the baseline of the opponent’s court. It’s often employed in singles matches, but most pro singles players shifted to the low serve in the past 10 years. Some woman singles players still use the long serve though.

The main reason for that is, that the long serve gives the opponent a lot of options to put pressure on you. A smash, punch clear, nice drop shot…all are very good options. The advantage of the high serve (and the reason why we still recommend it) is, that it gives you time to position yourself perfectly and be ready to respond to each shot from the opponent.

That is why in intermediate and especially beginner play the high serve is still an excellent choice. A low serve in singles requires quick footwork to get into the corners on the back of the court. Often, beginners get into a lot of trouble after a low serve in singles because they lack the footwork and technique to respond to a good return. This is not the case for a good old long serve.

The high serve is intended to steeply descend towards the back end of the court, ideally landing as close to the baseline as possible. The steep angle can also make it hard for some players to respond with a smash.

You can also try to observe patterns of your opponent – what is his most common reply to a high serve? Simply adjust accordingly.

Forehand Grip and Posture

You want to use a forehand grip when playing the high serve. The forehand grip is the most basic grip, sometimes also called “shake hands grip” or “V-Grip”. Grip your racket as if you were to shake hands with someone. It looks like this:

Forehand Grip
Forehand grip. Notice the “V” between the thumb and index finger.

If you want a more detailed breakdown of each grip you can also check out our post about all badminton grips.

For the execution of the high serve, you want to have your non-racket foot in front and have a big swing where your body rotates as well. The stance should look something like this:

Illustration of a forehand high serve stance.
Forehand high serve stance.

Use the high serve when you are a beginner in singles, switch it up when you are an intermediate player. Overall, you really can’t go wrong with a solid high serve in singles – but remember that consistency is key. A high serve that is too short can be punished very easily.

Perfecting the Low Serve

Illustration of the backhand low serve.
The backhand low serve just barely clears the net.

Moving on from the high serve, we will explore the low serve. This is a serve that barely clears the net, landing near the short service line. It’s utilized in doubles and mixed doubles matches to hinder the opponent from executing an aggressive shot.

As we’ve said previously, the low serve has also gained popularity in men’s singles at the professional level. The low serve is almost always a backhand serve, but it can be done with the forehand as well. The main advantages of the low serve are:

  • A shorter distance to travel = less time for the opponent to react

  • Less chances for the opponent to attack

That being said, you still have many options to return the serve in doubles. More about this topic in this post.

In most cases, you want to serve to the “T” spot at the short service line. This is the spot where the serve travels the least amount of distance and this is also the spot where your opponent has the least amount of options.

Did you know that roughly 83% of low serves are served to the "T-Spot"? Find out more in our post: "Where To Serve in Doubles"

The Backhand Low Serve Technique

The backhand low service technique seems easy, but it takes some practice to get it right. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Use the backhand grip. Position the thumb flat against the wider side of the racket handle, and keep a relaxed grip. More about the backhand grip here.

  2. You can keep your legs parallel to the net, or have your racket leg forward.

  3. Hold the shuttle at waist height (or below 1.15m).

  4. Keep the swing short, it should be the whole arm that does the movement, not the wrist or forearm.

Badminton doubles serve executed by a pro player.
Notice the stance with the racket leg forward.

A consistent low serve is key for success in doubles. A weak serve gives away easy points, and we don’t want that 😉

Unlocking the Flick Serve

Illustration of the backhand flick serve.
The flick serve is a long serve that is used as a surprise.

Next, we will uncover the techniques of the flick serve. The flick serve is a serve designed to deceive the opponent by making them anticipate a low serve, but instead, the shuttlecock is hit high and deep into the opponent’s court, creating deception.

The secret to the flick serve is the grip strength/finger power. You usually have a pretty light grip and can create a lot of power in the last second if you tense up the muscles in your hand and grip the racket right. The flick serve is used as an element of surprise and can be seen anywhere, where the the low serve dominates the game.

What differentiates the flick serve from a regular long serve? The main difference is its height and speed. The trajectory of the shuttlecock is still high, but not as high as the long serve. Because of that, it is also a bit quicker than the long serve.

Use the flick serve when your opponents have adapted to your regular low serves. It is especially impactful against players with slower reaction times, or players that are too aggressive when they receive the serve.

Deception and Timing

Deception is a crucial element of the flick serve. If you fail to create the deception, it is easy for your opponent to read the serve and put pressure on you and your partner. Practice is key here. Maybe even record yourself to see how your flick serve looks compared to your regular short serve. I have some players at the local club where I can see the flick serve a mile away.

Remember to use grip strength in the last moment to create the power, besides that, the flick serve is executed like a low serve.

The Drive Serve: Fast and Furious

Illustration of the backhand drive serve.
The drive serve is flat and fast – often used to surprise the opponent.

The drive serve is like the little brother of the flick serve. It is a fast, and flat serve in badminton that is also used as a surprise. This type of serve limits the receiver’s return options to a drive, flick, or net shot.

The drive serve demonstrates its greatest impact in doubles and mixed matches, particularly in situations where your opponent is vulnerable in quick drive exchanges. It’s a great variation to the flick serve since it is also used as a surprise. The technique is the same – just the angle is different.

Sometimes, when your opponent stands too far to the sideline – the drive serve can be a straight winner. Even pro players are caught off guard and don’t get this serve back from time to time if the deception is good.

Summary

In conclusion, a well-executed serve in badminton can set the tone for the rest of the rally. From the high serve, low serve, and flick serve, to the drive serve, each has its unique benefits and strategic applications. Mastering all these serves gives your game some variations – which is never a bad thing to have.

Keep your opponents guessing and use deception to gain an advantage in the rally. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned player, remember, the serve is not just an opening shot. It’s the shot that makes or breaks your game!

Happy playing!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a flick serve?

A flick serve in badminton is used as a surprise element. You use the grip strength in the last second to flick the shuttle high instead of doing a regular short serve. It can catch your opponent off-guard and requires deceptive execution.

How many types of badminton services are there?

There are four different types of badminton serves that players should attempt to master in order to diversify their game and keep opponents guessing. The high serve, the low serve, the flick serve, and the drive serve.

What is high serve in badminton?

In badminton, a high serve is a type of serve that sends the shuttle very high, causing it to fall almost straight down near the back of the service court. This gives you enough time to react to any shot from your opponent.

What is the significance of a low serve in doubles play?

The low serve in doubles play limits the opponent’s ability to make attacking shots. Ideally, it puts your team into an attacking position.


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