Where To Serve In Badminton Doubles

Badminton player serving
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Last Updated on 17/11/2023 by Kriss

As a badminton player, you know that the serve is one of the most crucial elements of the game. In doubles, it becomes even more strategic, as it sets the tone for the rally and can significantly influence the outcome of the match. Today, we’re going to delve into the science of serving in badminton doubles, drawing insights from a study on the technical and tactical aspects of badminton (mixed) doubles matches.

Let’s dive right in!

Badminton Serving Zones

There are multiple ways to serve in doubles. As long as you don’t violate serving rules, you can do a short, long, or drive serve. To simplify things, we can define four main serving zones in doubles:

Badminton serving zones. There are 4 Zones in each corner of the service court.
Serving Zones 1-4 in badminton.

A serve to 1 and 2 would be a short serve, while a serve to zone 3 or 4 would be a long serve.

Where Pro Badminton Players Serve

In order to find out where the pros serve most of the time we had to do some research. We found this study titled: “Mixed Doubles Match Technical and Tactical Analysis of World Badminton Champion Based on Mathematical Statistics“.

The authors provide a detailed analysis of serving techniques and strategies used by top players in the world. They analyzed multiple games from the 29th Olympic Games in 2008.

The key findings of the study are that the serve landing area in doubles is mostly in Zone 1, accounting for 83.7% of the total; followed by Zone 2 accounting for 7.2% of the total.

This means that pro players make 4/5 the shortest serve possible. If we look at the court and basic doubles and mixed strategy – this makes a lot of sense. First, the shuttle spends the least amount of time in the air when served to zone 1. This means that the opponent has not much time to move and cannot take the shuttle as early as they want.

Zone 1 also has another advantage: It is at a central location which means it is harder to push the shuttle into the corners. You get more time to react and you can anticipate the response from the opponent a little bit better.

Surprising Your Opponent With Variation in Serves

Zone 1 is the most popular choice for a reason. However, if you serve to spot 1 all the time your opponent might adjust position and anticipate the short serve.

Also read: How to Return a Short Serve

Zone 2,3 and 4 each scored roughly 5% in the study. That means 3/20 serves where not played into zone 1. This is just enough to keep your opponent guessing and that he can not fully commit to the standard short serve.

Always study your opponent. Sometimes you can see patterns or behavior that tell the service they are looking for. Especially at the beginner or intermediate level, you can surprise the opponent with quality drive serves.

Consistent Serves Are Key to Success

However, it’s not just about where to serve – but also about the quality of the serve. The study found that the error rate of serve was 4.1%. That means that only roughly 1/20 serves is an error. This suggests that while serving to Zone 1 is a great strategy, it’s also important to have a high-quality serve that minimizes errors and maximizes scoring opportunities.

We recommend tracking a couple of your games to see what your error rate is. Error not only means if the shuttle lands in the net, is too wide or long, but also if your serve is so high that your opponent can kill it right away. You should practice the serve until you have an error rate of at least under 10%.

Think about it like that: a serve error rate means that you give 2 points away for free per set (on average).

Serving to different zones requires also precision and control, and it’s a skill that can be developed with practice. Moreover, it’s important to maintain a consistent form across all your serves to avoid revealing a flick serve, for instance.

The Impact of Serve Quality

The quality of your serve has a direct impact on whether you’re in an active or passive position during the rally. A high-quality serve can put your opponents in a passive state, helping you control the initiative of the entire situation. This is crucial in doubles, where maintaining the initiative can significantly increase your chances of winning the rally. A bad serve can straight up lose you the point, that is why it is so important to practice it a lot.

As usual, it is best to watch and learn from the pros. This clip is from the Olympic Games 2020 Men’s Doubles Finale. Pay attention to the serving zones and the small number of errors.

How to Improve Your Serve

You might not like the answer – but there is no magic trick to improve your serve. We will only talk about the short serve here.

The simple answer is: practice, practice, practice! In this video, the German pro player Marvin Seidel said, that he plays short serves after a training session for sometimes longer than an hour!

Grab a ton of shuttles – make sure you do a legal serve – and go ahead and practice some short serves. There are also a ton of service tutorials out there. I always really like the ones from the ex-pro player Kenichi Tago. You can find his tutorial here.

If you keep struggling with your short serve it might be worth having a coach look over it, or record yourself and compare to the pros to see where you are going wrong.

Conclusion

Mastering the serve in badminton doubles is a journey that requires understanding, practice, and strategic thinking. The serve is not just the start of a rally; it’s a powerful tool that can set the tone for the game and significantly influence its outcome. By focusing on your serve landing zones, varying your serve areas, and ensuring high serve quality, you can turn your serve into a formidable weapon in your badminton arsenal.

Remember, practice makes perfect. So, grab your racket, head to the court, and start serving!

Happy Playing!


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