The first thing to get a handle on is the difference in a shot and stroke, a Badminton stroke is the swinging motion performed before you take a shot. In a nutshell, the strokes you execute is fundamental in producing a good shot in a game of Badminton. As a beginner, do not rush into learning all the different types of badminton shots. You should learn and practice until you’re good with one then move on to learn the next group of shots, although over the course of a match you might have to improvise or use shots you’re not fully comfortable with but hey it’s just a game! All shots in Badminton can be classified broadly into either offensive or defensive shots. Here are some of the most popular ones.
The clear shot
Also known as lobing, the clear shot is the most important badminton shot, especially in a singles game. It’s used when you need to buy more time for yourself to return to base before the next return. It is also strategic to use when your opponent is near to the fore-court, forcing him or her to retract by backing up to retrieve the shuttle. If the clear sends the shuttle right to your opponent’s baseline, it’s considered a good defensive clear. In this stroke, contact the shuttlecock around the middle of your racquet head. The aim of the clear shot is to cause the shuttle to go up high in the air and land at your opponent's backcourt. The clear shot is one of the easiest badminton techniques to master; beginners should aim to “ace” the defensive clear shot to play longer rallies against your opponents.
The drive shot
The drive shot is a basic flat shot, directly hit over the net. It is a counter-attack shot that’s easy to execute. If the shot is played right, it will force your opponent to hit an upward return, giving you a chance to counter-attack. It is widely used in a doubles, as players would like to keep the shuttle low. The drive shot can be played both on the forehand or backhand. To make the shot, your racquet should be held with the head facing straight ahead locking your wrist as the shuttle comes in contact. The aim is to deliver a flat and fast drive to get the shuttle behind your opponent causing them to make a weak return. Sometimes it can be strategic to aim the shot at your opponent who will be unable to react or shift his body in time as their natural reaction will be to duck the shot and not get hit in the face!
The drop shot
The drop shot is best used when the shuttle is heading towards you in the first half of your court. To perform this stroke, the player must hit the shuttlecock downwards towards the opponent's fore-court, aiming for it to go just over the net. There are two types of drop shots, Fast Drop Shot: where the shuttlecock travels down steeply and lands further away from the net, Slow Drop Shot: the shuttle does not travel down steeply but lands nearer to the net.
When performing a drop shot, you want to make it look like a drive, but instead, you only use a little force to push the shuttle over the net. This shot is best used when the opponent is near to the backcourt, anticipating your stroke to be a clear or drive. For more advanced play, if you are in the mid-court, you can try slicing the shuttlecock so it will bounce nicely over the net. If the opponent is in the backcourt, this shot will make the opponent dash forward and unless they’re Usain Bolt they’ll miss the shot! The closer the shuttle drops to the net, the harder it is to return. However, it also becomes riskier for you as it may not cross the net and cost you the rally. The main objective of the drop shot is to force your opponent out of their position or to change the pace of the game.
The Badminton smash is considered the most powerful shot and is usually played on the forehand. It is often difficult to return because of the pace and the downward angle of the shot, think of it as a down facing drive. It’s best used when the shuttle is high in the air so it can be angled downwards. When the shuttle comes in from a high angle, it will allow you enough time to arch and get in position to strike. At the highest point of contact, with a flick of the wrist aim the shuttle downwards in a steep gradient. You’ll ideally want to aim for spots furthest from your opponent, but another tactic is to aim it towards his upper torso, making it hard for him or her to defend.
If you get a handle on all these types of shots in Badminton, from the net shot to the smash shot you’ll be climbing up the ladder at your local club in no time!