One of the hottest topics that I will cover in my online coaching program is increasing the performance of your badminton smash.
Wherever I travel to the bus, I am always asked two important questions
- How to improve the backhand
- How to get more power in the smash
There are a number of simple adjustments that you can make to boost performance and improve the accuracy of your badminton smash. So let’s start …
Let’s start with your feet!
Why your feet Easy. If you don’t have the speed to get behind the badminton shuttle before you hit it, there’s no way you can get a good, powerful, and precise shot. You need to be behind the shuttle for your body weight to move in the direction of your smash. Adding your body weight to the smash provides more strength.
How far behind the shuttle should you stand? Ideally, you need to be far enough away for the shuttle to land slightly in front of your club-less leg, but in alignment with your club shoulder.
You need to test that you are moving fast enough to get behind the shuttle. Stand at the front service line and ask your feeder to lift the shuttle towards the rear line. Now, with your club in hand, try to hit the shuttle. But you are not allowed to take the shuttle! Instead, drop it on the floor and note the position it lands in relation to your body.
Where’s the shuttle? Is it enough in front of your body that you can knock it down for your body weight to move forward? If not, you’ve just discovered a key element that you need to improve in order to add power to your Smash.
So try again and this time move faster and go past where you would normally stop. Test again. A little better? If so, repeat this exercise until you are sure you did it correctly.
Finally, test again by moving back and this time hitting the shuttle. Work on it and the first few shots are likely to fall into the net!
There are so many badminton and league players I’ve seen who seem to move around and hit with excessive tension in their bodies. This tension is caused by the pressure of getting to the shuttle on time, the frustration of wanting to hit the shuttle better or score more, and most likely a number of smaller reasons that are causing a big problem.
When the body is tense, it cannot perform anywhere near its optimal performance. A tense body cannot move as fast, beat as fast or as powerfully as a tension-free body. Think about it. When you go out on the court to play against a player who you know you can easily beat, why are your shots so much better and you seem to be moving so much faster? Yes, you are not under pressure, so you are playing with a sense of freedom – freedom from tension.
One of the most important adjustments I ask most players to make is the way they grip their racket. I’m not talking about correct forehand or backhands here, even though that’s high on my list.
In this article, I’ll talk about the strength of your grip. If you hold your racket too tightly, your muscles will be under constant tension. This will not allow them to flow and will give you instructions to move in a certain way in order to hit the shuttle. They almost struggle to move in the correct order.
A tight grip then limits the strength that is available to those muscles, which only leads to a poor result and disappointment for the player. If you constantly grip the shuttle too tightly, you run the risk of injuring your elbow. Tennis or golfers’ elbows are extremely painful and often caused by having too tight a grip or too small a racket grip for the size of your hand.
Head out into the square and board the shuttle service with a very relaxed grip. Hold the racket tight enough so it doesn’t slip out of your hand – you don’t want to see the white of your knuckles or you’re gripping too tight! Play a few overhead strokes and squeeze the second a little harder before your racket connects to the shuttle.
I assume that you will find yourself hitting the shuttle harder as your club can accelerate faster towards the shuttle without having to apply the brakes.
Your back swing can make all the difference
Looking back over the past 30 years, preparing for an overhead shot has changed. This is mainly due to the significant improvements in racket technology. We no longer play with steel-framed rackets that weigh significantly more than the average 85g racket today. Thanks to the light, one-piece carbon construction, you can now prepare and meet in seconds. It doesn’t take a long backswing – an almost tennis-like serve – to get an overhead shot in badminton.
What I see so often is almost a “corkscrew” action, in which the club is moved with the rotation of the shoulder. Why is that wrong?
Whenever you move a muscle or set of muscles, they always want to return to a neutral position; H. Back to where you started.
A corkscrew action therefore usually produces an opposite action. This means that the bat is not thrown directly onto the shuttle, but moves almost over the path of the shuttle. Catch the shuttle in just the right place and you can hit a good shot.
However, this method is extremely unpredictable and also imprecise.
Exercise 3 (A video explanation is available)
Stand in a room with enough space around you to swing your racket. From a defensive stance, without a bat, place your hand on the front of your shoulder to feel the muscles move.
Now prepare yourself to hit the overhead with your hand without a bat on the shoulder and feel the direction in which the arm and shoulder are moving. Roger that? Now play the shot and notice how it goes on and where your racket ends.
Do the same exercise again, but this time raise your racket directly over your shoulder as if you were scratching your back. Your elbow should be pointing practically upright. Do you feel a difference If you can, it suggests that you are more likely to use a corkscrew in your preparation.
If you didn’t feel the difference, twist your shoulders as if you were reaching the shuttle. Your racket moves to its usual position.
As you throw the bat from here, watch the line of the bat. Is it going in a straight line to where you want the shuttle to go, or is it falling over your body towards your non-bat leg?
If your club is running in a straight line, you have great technique and the chances are that you will already hit the shuttle pretty hard. Focus on exercises 1 and 2 to see if you can improve in these areas.
If your racket is anywhere near your non-racket foot, you may find that you hit harder and more evenly across the field than straight. If you do this, the corkscrew action is a cause. Additionally, you may find that you are pulling most of your all round shots out of court.
OK, we’ve covered some basic issues here, but from what I continue to see in clubs, a large percentage of players can improve the power of their badminton swing by improving in one, two, or all three of these key areas.
Have fun testing these exercises, and hopefully you will find that one area where you can quickly find a little extra focus that will make a big difference in the outcome of your smash.
This article is not intended to be a complete checklist of ways to improve the performance of your badminton smash. I chose my “big three” because they are relatively easy for you to review for yourself when you don’t have the luxury of working with a trainer.