Singles Badminton is a game with a high demand for physical fitness, speed, power and tactical play. There are so many aspects of this complex game. I’m here to share my top 7 Badminton tips for singles that will help you improve and win you more games.
- Control the base position
- Work on fluency in footwork
- Limit your opponents’ options
- Master spinning net shots
- Deceptive hold and flick from the net
- Learn your opponents’ habits
- Don’t give away free points
If you want to improve your singles game and win more matches then keep reading for some top Badminton tips.
In singles, there’s just you and your side and your opponent on the other. You both have to be able to cover the whole court by yourselves, it’s hard. After almost every shot you’ll be wanting to try and recover to your base position.
The way to make this easier is by controlling the rally so that you don’t have to scramble to reach the next shot because you’re out of position.
You see the best players like Lin Dan and Kento Momota use this strategy very well. They’re able to get back to their base position very quickly and with minimal effort.
So how do you control the rally and solidify your base position? Well, there are a number of strategies you can use but a very simple strategy is to play with good length. How does this work?
Playing with good length simply means getting your lifts and clears deep into the opponent’s rear court. By playing the opponent deep into their rear court you’re able to set up a solid defensive position. You’ll have more time to get ready before they hit the shot and more time to reach the shuttle when they do hit the shot.
This is only a very basic strategy and there’s more to it then mentioned here. Coming soon, we’ll have a full guide explaining how to use this strategy in tandem with other tactics.
So we’ve established that base control is important, you need to be able to reach the next shot the opponent is going to play without getting left behind. Speed is an important factor in being able to get to the shuttle in time but it isn’t the only part of footwork you need to work on.
Another aspect of footwork is fluency, being able to chain your movements together so you don’t get sent the wrong way or react too slowly. Fluency in footwork is about making sure that when you’ve recovered from the last shot that your next movement is responsive and efficient.
There are a couple of things you need to master in order to gain fluency:
- The Badminton split step
- Muscle memory for footwork patterns
Tobias Wadenka has a great video on the split-step that you can watch below.
We also have a whole guide that talks about the split step and why it’s crucial and how to do it. The split step is when you drop down into a lowered wider stance in timing with the opponent hitting their next shot. The timing on this is critical, split too early and you’ll get stuck and unable to push to the next shot, split too late and you’ll be chasing the shuttle with less time.
The second part, developing muscle memory, is also really important. You need to practice your footwork until you no longer need to think about it. You want it to become second nature.
Letting your muscle memory do its job relieves your brain from the cognitive load of having to think about it. You essentially get to a stage where your feet are on autopilot and this gives your brain the freedom to concentrate on more high-level functions like tactics and reacting to your opponent.
Fluency in footwork is key to outmanoeuvring your opponent and securing easy points just by having better court coverage.
This couples well with the tip on being in control of your base position. If you’re able to limit the number of choices your opponent when playing their next shot you’ll be able to control the rallies more.
Current World Champion Kento Momota is a brilliant example of a player that limits his opponents’ options by playing with good length and accuracy.
So how do you limit the potential replies your opponent has to play? Let’s have a brief look at a few strategies to enable this.
The best defence is a good offence they say. This won’t work against everyone you play but is very effective against players who want to try and play more neutral or defensive.
Keeping the rallies at the highest pace you can manage without losing control forces your opponent into a defensive position. Most of the time defensive shots in Badminton are quite limiting and put you on the back foot.
If you’re able to rush the other player with pace then they’ll struggle to think about what shot they’re going to playback. They’ll have to be more reactive and just try and get back your previous shot.
Your position on court greatly influences the number of shots you have to use. This is especially true in singles where both players have to cover the whole court. Neither player can go for anything too outrageous or they risk being caught out of position and unable to get the to the shuttle if the opponent gets it back.
Getting opponents deep in the rear corners of the court limits their options, even more so if they have to take the shuttle late. Look at the diagram below, the player about to hit next is deep in his forehand corner. (This is assuming the player is right-handed, reverse for a left-handed player).
Unless they get to the shuttle very early then the options they have can be quite limited. They’ll most likely have to play a straight shot. They could play a cross-court drop or clear but they do open up the backhand side of their court.
The player would have to travel the whole diagonal of the court to be able to reach it. Because it’s a cross-court shot you also have more time to see the shot and to be able to reach it.
This is just one example but illustrates how court positioning can limit the opponents’ possible shots.
This is almost the opposite of the last strategy. Some players are very good at running corner to corner and covering a long distance. They tend to be very agile and fast players who like to attack.
To combat this, and limit the options the other player has, is to play shots that limit the angle or range at which the opponent can play. Lin Dan uses this tactic a lot against players. Take this example:
- The opponent plays a fast drop/half smash
- You block the shot back about a foot beyond the service line and towards the centre of the court
- Your opponent has no opportunity to follow up their attacking shot
- Your opponent has to play their next shot from near the centre of the court
Forcing the opponent to play their next shot from the centre of the court means they have no angles to play with. Every shot they play has to travel past you in equal distance. You don’t have to travel much further if they play it to your forehand or backhand side.
Playing the shot back to the centre also limits the players’ movement. They don’t have to travel very far to get the shuttle but this will disrupt their footwork rhythm and get them stuck.
This is a big one. In singles, having control of the net is so important. If you have control of the net then you have control whether your opponent can attack or not. Spinning net shots are especially effective because they’re hard to attack, land very close to the net which can force the opponent to play a lift.
Anthony Sinisuka Ginting of Indonesia features in the video below and shows how being able to play quality net shots can give you control of the rally or win a point.
You see it very often that player try to tighter and tighter to the net force the opponent to give away the lift. This can be risky though as one player could make a mistake and hit the net or play it too loose and the other player can kill it.
If you’re able to play tight spinning net shots most of the time the opponent will have to lift the shuttle. Trying to play another net shot back becomes too risky. This can win you so many points in the long run if you master this.
Tobias Wadenka has a great video showing you have to master the spinning net shot, practice this shot plenty.
We mentioned in the last tip that controlling the net with tight spinning net shots is a great tactic. For this tactic to work even better your opponent must be unsure whether you’ll play to the net or push them to the back again.
The best way to break the opponents’ rhythm is to be able to wait a little longer before playing your next shot. The hold and flick shot from the net are used by top singles players all the time to try and disrupt the opponents’ footwork and push them back into the corners.
If your opponent is getting used to you playing back to the net after they drop or when they play to the net themselves, then mix it up by flicking the shuttle quickly to the back.
Make it look like you’ll play a net shot and then hold a little longer before hitting the flick. If done right the opponent will struggle to get back and play an aggressive shot.
This one doesn’t come without experience. Both playing Badminton and also playing the same opponent multiple times. Learning to read your opponent’s body language, their posture, the position of the racquet can all give you clues as to what shot they’ll play next.
Top players make this very difficult, especially when they’re playing overhead from the back of the court as a clear, drop and smash can all look the same.
Learn to spot patterns in the way your opponent likes to play. Do they always lift it when challenged at the net? Do they always block when you play a smash? Do they always play it cross-court when they’re in trouble?
Try and spot particular patterns in their play and not only will you be able to anticipate their next shot better but you could also bait them to play a certain shot.
This can work really well against players who love to attack. If you find that the opponent always plays a straight smash when you lift it quite flat then you can anticipate this and get ready to counter their attack with a cross block.
Being able to read your opponent and anticipate their next move puts you one step ahead of them in the rally. Shuttle Flash channel on YouTube has a great compilation video illustrating some amazing reads by top players. Watch the full video below.
Definitely the easiest tip to give but probably the hardest to implement in practice. Each Badminton is a game to 21 if you give away even two easy points, that’s 10% of the game handed to the opponent.
Don’t get me wrong nobody’s perfect and we all make mistakes. The free points I’m talking about are things like:
- Serving in the net
- Hitting the shuttle out or in the net from a comfortable position
- Hitting the return in the net
- Getting faulted for stepping on the line whilst serving
Any situation where your opponent has done very little or nothing to receive the point. You should always make the opponent work for their points. Even if it means they win on the next shot it’s better to keep the shuttle in and have them win the point then you lose the point.
There are of course situations where you’ll be forced into making a mistake. Don’t lose points in situations where you have full control like serving. This all comes out of consistency, concentration and having a positive mindset.
There are many strategies you can use in Badminton. Too many to number. People often confuse strategy with tactics. The strategy is the overall game plan eg, play a very aggressive attacking game, and the tactics are the actual things you do to implement the strategy eg, play the smash when possible.
There is no easy answer to this question. If the opponent is clearly a stronger player than you in a number of areas then it’s going to be an uphill battle. The best chance you’ll have is to formulate a strategy to maximise their weaknesses and maximise your strengths.
If you found this article helpful return the favour and share it with a friend. If you feel I’ve missed anything out or have other advice, please leave feedback and share your help with others below.
If you want even more Badminton tips check out our article 11 Pro Badminton Tips (Become a Better Badminton Player) Thanks again for reading.
Written by Liam Walsh who lives in Manchester, England. Working as a Software Engineer but moonlighting as a dad, Badminton player/coach and creator of BadmintonsBest.
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