Basic Badminton Shots And How To Play Them

Basic badminton shots text on dark background.
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Last Updated on 04/12/2023 by Kriss

If you are a beginner at badminton and wonder how many shots and strokes there are, or you don’t know what a “clear” or “drop shot” is – this post is for you. We will give you all the basic strokes and shots that you need to understand and practice to be successful on the court.

We will not go deep into rules and technique, but rather show the shot and roughly describe how and when to play it. So a bit of strategy will be involved too.

Let’s dive right in!

Clear Shot

Illustration of a basic clear shot.

A key component of badminton is the clear shot, a stroke that sends the shuttle high up to your opponent’s backcourt. This shot provides more time for you to get back into the rally. At a beginner level, this is a very effective shot, and it remains a solid choice at an intermediate and pro level. You will have time to react to anything your opponent does, as long as your clear really goes all the way to the back.

You want to play a clear when you are under pressure, late to the shuttle, or exhausted. Because if you smash or play a drop shot (we will cover those later on), you need to be quick to cover the front of the court again. You want to use the forehand grip 99% of the time. The backhand clear should only be used when you are late and cannot get under the shuttle in time to play the shot with your forehand.

Overall the clear is a great neutralising shot that keeps you in the rally.

The Smash

Illustration of basic badminton smash.

The smash is arguably the most popular badminton shot. It just looks cool, and you win points with it. So why not use it all the time?

The smash is an aggressive shot that is designed to put your opponent under pressure. You hit the shuttle downwards with an overhead stroke and a lot of power (more smash tips here).

You should play the smash shot when you are in a good position. That means you are not late to the shuttle and you stand behind the shuttle before you hit it. You can also hit a smash under pressure, but you should be sure that this one is a winner because you will be in trouble if you have to respond to a good defense from your opponent.

In singles, you should be a bit more conservative with the smash. In doubles, you can rely on your partner to cover the front of the court after a smash. Just like the clear, you need to use a forehand grip for this shot.

Mastering a smash feels great, and it is a shot that you will need to get points.

Drop Shot

Illustration of basic badminton drop shot.

Coming from the powerful smash, we get to a shot that shares a lot of similarities – but is played with much more feeling instead of raw power. The drop shot is played with a forehand grip and is also an overhead stroke. The drop shot should land in front of the service line and force your opponent to the net.

You should use a drop shot as a variation. Ideally, the preparation of your shots should look the same for all overhead strokes (smash, clear, and drop). This makes it harder for your opponent to guess the next shot. We’ve talked about this concept in detail in our deception guide.

If you are strong at the net, bringing your opponent to the front of the court with a drop shot is a great idea. Just don’t use it too often, because your opponent might adapt to it. Move them around and keep them guessing. They should work hard – not you 😉

Net Shot

Illustration of basic badminton net shot.

Following up on the drop shot, one of your opponents’ replies might be the net shot. This one is played with a forehand or backhand grip – depending on the side you play it from. You will need a lot of feeling for this one, often times you just let the shuttle fall onto the racket head, and the shuttlecock gently falls onto the other side of the net.

With this shot, it’s important to take the shuttle early so that you almost play it at net height. Most coaches advise extending your arm with a small bend and keeping your racket at shoulder level when making a net shot.

This shot is a good reply to a drop or net shot from your opponent, just keep an eye on where your opponent is positioned. If your net shot is high or spends a lot of time going cross-court – your opponent might go in for a net kill. If it is perfect – the most likely reply is a lift.

The Lift

Illustration of basic lift.

The lift has the same goal as the clear – neutralizing the rally and giving you time to position yourself again. You will use the same motion and preparation as the net shot (remember what we said about deception?). But this time, you will use your finger power and a quick short swing to lift the shuttle all the way to the back.

If you are late at the net or don’t feel confident playing the net shot, the lift is always a viable option. If you are early to the shuttle you can even use it to put your opponent under pressure since you can push the shuttle to the back at a better and more aggressive angle.

The Drive

Illustration of a badminton shot called "drive"
Basic drive shot

The drive is a quick shot that resembles a straight line over the net. It is usually a shot that puts pressure on your opponent and makes the game faster. You will see it being used a lot of times in doubles and mixed, but not so often in singles. You can play the shot with the forehand or backhand grip, depending on the side.

Don’t use a big swing with this shot, but rather your finger power together with a quick short swing.

If you don’t get the opportunity to smash, the drive is your best option to add some speed and pressure to the rally.

The Serve

Illustration of basic serve.
Short low serve in badminton. It just barely clears the net.

The serve is arguably the most essential stroke in badminton, being a central aspect of any rally. Depending on the situation or context, various types of serves can be advantageous such as high and low ones along with drive and flick serves.

For instance, when playing singles, it’s useful to use a long serve that sends the shuttle upwards so it lands all the way to the back of your opponent’s service court. In doubles though, usually short serves are preferred.

A surprise flick serve can also work wonders in doubles! If you want to know more about the serve, we have a few articles you can read. We covered all the rules, where to serve in doubles and mixed, and last but not least we recommend watching this video for the backhand serve, and this one for the forehand serve.

Net Kill

Illustration of a net kill in badminton.

The net kill is an aggressive shot that is designed to win the rally. You need to be early to the shuttle and hit it when it is still over the net. This stroke is used when the opponent makes a low-quality hit at the net, or when you already anticipate the net shot.

Be careful not to cross the net with your racket – this is not allowed. The net kill is often a sort of “brushing” motion. You can see the shot described in this video.

If you can go for the net kill – do it. The chance of the shuttle coming back when executed correctly is very very low. But getting the timing and technique right for this shot is not so easy.

All the shots we’ve covered so far are essential shots. I would argue that the net kill isn’t essential for your game, but it needs to be in here for good measure 😉

Conclusion

If you are new to badminton, improving your fundamental skills and shots is crucial in developing into a strong player on the court. It starts with focusing on basic badminton shots like the clear, smash, and drop. Be patient and keep practicing, and you will improve quickly.

Happy playing!

Frequently Asked Questions About Badminton Shots

What are the basic badminton shots?

The basic badminton shots are the clear, the drop, the smash, net shot, the drive, net kill and the serve.

What are the basic badminton strokes?

Basic strokes for badminton include an overhead forehand, a backhand that is played above the head, and underarm hits of both types (backhands as well as forehands).

What is the primary purpose of the clear shot in badminton?

The clear shot in badminton is designed to put the shuttle high up into the air and make it land at your opponent’s backcourt. This action allows more time for you to reset and neutralize the rally.


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