Tips to Master the Badminton Serve

In order to be successful in the game of badminton, one must master the serve. You must keep your opponent guessing on which type of serve you are going to use and where you are going to place it.

The badminton serve is a big part of the strategy. There are a few different kinds of serves: the high serve, low serve with your forehand or backhand, flick serve, and drive serve. You want to master them all so you do not give easy points to your opponent.

The whole rally starts from the serve and serving well gives the player upper hand right from the beginning. This is the reason why this is essential.

It is crucial to know when to use which kind of serve. There is a picture where you can see how the shuttlecock flies in each serve.

High Serve

This badminton serve is used when you want to open the opponent’s court. This is a great serve in singles but has to be used carefully in doubles.

  • Stand a relaxed couple of feet behind the service line and bend your knees.
  • Lead with your non-racket leg.
  • Put your racket near your shoulder level.
  • Hold the shuttle by its feathers and let it drop slightly in front of you.
  • Hit the shuttle with racket’s face.

The high serve is mostly used during singles play in order to move your opponent as far back into the court as possible. In order to execute this serve you use your forehand grip and stand a few feet behind the service line. Bend your knees and extend your racket to almost shoulder level.

Be sure to follow through back into ready position when the shuttle has been hit. Because of the close proximity to the back line many players hit this serve out.

Don’t aim for the back line, but aim to hit it high towards the ceiling, thus eliminating the chance of a flat serve. high serves should also be placed towards the middle of the court and not the corners.

high serve
high serve

Low Serve

This badminton serve you want to use when you want the opponent to lift the shuttlecock. It is recommended when the opponent’s attack is strong. This serve is commonly used in doubles. Low serve can be served both forehand hand backhand.

Forehand

  • Relax your body and bend your knees.
  • Stand couple of feet behind the short service line.
  • Place your racket leg behind.
  • Keep the racket on to your waist level and hold the shuttlecock by the feathers close to the racket (do not drop it in front).
  • Push the shuttle bit higher but below your waist line.
  • Aim to the tape of the net and make the shuttle skim from it.

TIP: Mix the way you serve and catch your opponent off guard.

Backhand

  • Stand relaxed with your racket hand in front.
  • Lead with your racket leg.
  • The backswing should be short.
  • The shuttle should be held in the waistline.
  • Aim to the tape of the net and make the shuttle skim from it.

TIP: Shorten the grip to have better control of the racket

The low serve is most often used in doubles play when you want your opponent to lift the shuttle. You can also use this serve if your singles opponent’s attack is too dominant. To execute this serve, you can either use the forehand grip or backhand grip.

To use your forehand grip have your racket at waist level before you begin your swing. Contact the shuttle below your waist line, and push it forward so that it just makes it over the tape of the net.

To perform a low serve with your backhand, use a short back swing before contacting the shuttle at waist level. Again be sure the shuttle just clears the top of the tape to catch your opponent off guard.

This serve is sent directly at your opponent, giving them less angles to return the shuttle back. (In order for better control and feel you can shorten your grip on the backhand low serve).

The low serve should only be played when you can react quickly to the return. This serve usually sets up for net play, and fast reflexes and quick footwork are a must.

low serve
low serve

Flick Serve

It is all about the wrist motion and executing this serve without opponent anticipating it. This badminton serve starts the same way as low serve but then the wrist movement comes in and hopefully surprises the opponent.

Flick serve is used when an opponent has momentum and is on the attack. It is mostly used in doubles because if your opponent in the singles play knows you are going to use it, it can leave you vulnerable for an attack/smash return.

The key to this serve is all in the wrist action, on either your backhand or forehand. It is a deceptive serve that gives the impression you are going to perform a low serve, but then at the last moment, you flick your wrist to propel the shuttle over. Stand close to the service line, unlike the other serves, and try to hit it above your opponents backhand out of their reach.

flick serve
flick serve

Drive Serve

The main point with this badminton serve is to attack. The result may be a bad return from the opponent which gives you a great opportunity or it could lead straight to gaining the point.

This is quite the same as high serve, but instead if aiming up the player makes the shuttle go horizontally.

A drive serve is considered an attacking serve, and can be used successfully in either singles or doubles competition. The shuttle moves in a flatter arc then the other serves, and if you catch your opponent off guard it can lead to an unforced error.

The forehand grip is used for this serve, following through at waist level to contact the shuttle. Use a lot of force to contact the shuttle and send it hard across the net.

It can limit your follow through, and your racket face stays square with the net. Unlike the high serve, the flick serve should be played to the corners to create a greater movement for your opponent.

drive serve
drive serve

All these are great ways to serve but the main thing is to use different ways and keep the opponent guessing what you are about to do next.

The Basics of Short Serving

Being able to do a short service is very important in a normal doubles game. And increasingly so in singles as well. Here are some tips I would like to share with anyone who thinks short service is difficult, or who believes it’s easy and has taken it for granted.

1. For beginners:

Aim at the net top (the white tape) rather than aiming at the floor (or any line). A good short service does not require the shuttlecock to land at a particular spot, it is more important to make sure it goes (and just) over the net.

It means that you have to control your power such that, once the shuttlecock goes over the top of the net, it should start falling. Most beginners can begin to short serve relatively well with this approach, within half an hour of practice.

2. Understand some physics:

Based on a simple law of physics, as long as you are standing and hitting the shuttlecock behind your own service line, the shuttlecock (if it can go over the net) should land beyond the service line of the receiver’s side, as both service lines are the same distance to the net. So again, you don’t need to worry about the service line on the other side, just focus on the top of the net.

3. Some more physics:

Higher may not be better: Some players prefer to serve with the racquet/shuttlecock impact point as high as possible (even higher than their waist, which is a fault), in order to shorten the distance between the impact point and the net.

It sounds good and logical, but it makes the shuttlecock travel relatively flat, even after crossing the net, which allows the receiver to return the shuttlecock with a quick drive or flick shot. The truth is, higher does not equate to better, particularly when you are facing a good net-rusher.

Therefore, a serve with a lower impact point is, in fact, a safer serve. With the deeper falling angle, it’s more difficult for the receiver to attack your serve by flicking or driving the shuttlecock. The lower point of impact is safer.

4. Use different parts of your racquet when serving:

One other law of physics to consider – the shuttle is subject to the laws of air friction. Air resistance will help to make the shuttlecock fall faster. Believe me, if you are standing close enough to the center line, about 6 to 10 inches away from your own service line, a T to T straight short serve should always land properly.

It is only when you try to serve towards the sideline that you will need to serve harder by swinging your racquet faster to compensate for the air resistance. But this faster swing will give away your intention to the receiver.

A technique you can try is to use the higher part (nearer to the tip) of your racquet to hit the shuttlecock. The same swing (same movement), will help propel the shuttlecock further, to the sidelines or wherever you wish the shuttle to land – with a slight adjustment in power.

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