Posted by: Administrator on Apr 12, 2010
Recently, I played a game of doubles badminton, teaming up with my good friend and "coach" Mr. Su. Our opponents were two veteran players from Hong Kong; each one of them had over 20 years of experience in badminton. In theory, our opponents should be better than us, since I haven't played badminton for nearly as long. The final score of this game was much unexpected; we won the game 15-0, shutting out our opponents. My team served first this game. Even though the opponents played very hard, we retained the right to serve for most of the game. My short serves during this game were all of high quality, and the opponent couldn't take advantage of any of my serves. This coupled with Mr. Su's devastating offense meant that our opponents didn't have many opportunities to strike back. The victory was unbelievable, and during this game I observed an important fact: a good serve is extremely important to a doubles game.
In the sport of badminton, rules dictate that serves can only be hit from below the waist and the head of the racket during service has to be lower than the wrist of the racket hand, so all serves are hit upwards in order to clear the net. This meant that all serves are defensive, not offensive. Current rules also state that only the serving side can earn points, so whether if it's singles or doubles, the serve plays an important part in the sport.
Firstly, serves are split into forehand serves and backhand serves. Secondly, depending on the speed, trajectory and target of the serve, serves can be split into short serves, long serves and flat (flick) serves. The current trend is that short serves are becoming more and more popular, not only in doubles, but in world class singles competitions as well. If the serve is well executed, the opponent won't be able to attack right off the bat and the serving player will be able get on the offensive.
To execute a short serve, the serving player stands right against his/her own short service line and tries to serve the bird so that it lands just barely past the opponent's short service line. The peak of the trajectory should be near the net, and the bird should not be much higher than the net. Right after the bird clears the net it should starts falling downwards towards its target, which is usually either the near or far front corners of the service area.
Most people know that the best tactic for returning short serves is to swat it right back when the bird is at its highest point. A high quality short serve, however, can force the opponent to hit the bird into the net or make a less effective shot, which gives the serving side a better chance to defend and/or go on the offensive.
After playing badminton for several years, I find that it's vital to control the trajectory and speed of the short serve, and the player should concentrate while serving but the arms and hands should be somewhat relaxed (not overly tense). Also try to read the opponent's move while serving (ex. If opponent leans forward too much, use the flick serve). I have compiled several pointers regarding the short serve. If you keep these points in mind and practice a bit, you should be able to execute high quality short serves.
1) The point of contact between the bird and racket during the serve should be as high as possible, but still within the allowable range stated in the rules.
2) Stand as close to the inner front corner of your service area as possible so that the bird travels the least possible distance. 3) The backhand short serve is usually more consistent and faster than the forehand short serve. For people who are right-handed, this means that your right foot should be in front, left foot a bit behind and your body should lean slightly forward. 4) With the backhand short serve, your palm should be empty. You only need your thumb and index finger to hold the racket. The other three fingers should be relaxed. 5) Orientate the racket so that the head is in front of your body. The racket should make a 60 degree angle with the ground. Place the head of the racket 3-5 cm below the birdie held by your other hand. 6) Keep your eyes on the receiver of the serve to determine which serve to use and where to serve to. 7) When you let go of the bird, use only the fingers and the wrist to power the serving stroke. (Hint: tighten the three relaxed fingers onto the grip and the racket will swing forward.) Your arm should be stationary and the hitting surface of the racket should hit the bird at an angle, so the bird will spin which improves flight path and accuracy. 8) Immediately after serving, squat down and hold your racket over your head to defend against quick returns. 9) If you want to do the flick serve, make sure your motions are similar to the short serve until the last moment, when you rotate the racket back so the head hits the shuttle straight on, to send it flying to the back corner or the service area.
In world class doubles competitions, the failure rate for serves is around 15%, and may go up to as high as 30%. If you can't keep the right to serve, then you can't win. After watching many competitions, I think that Tony of the 2000 Olympic men's doubles champion from Indonesia has the best short serve in the world.