Posted by: Administrator on Apr 12, 2010
Blocking smashes is among the most important defensive skills in badminton. If you can't return your opponent's smashes, then your chances of winning the game is slim.
In the NBA, there is a famous saying: Good defense equals good offense. This also applies to badminton. Everybody knows that the smash is an important offensive move in badminton. Smashes, especially jump smashes, are extremely fast and powerful and it is the main attraction for audiences watching a competition. Players and coaches spent years trying to perfect smashes and also smash blocking techniques. In the 80s, there was a famous match where Han Jian from China stopped around a dozen continuous attacks from Liem Swie King of Indonesia, one of the best offensive players in the world at the time, and went on the win the match. There are many other examples of great defense in high level competitions, and all of us recreational players wish that we had that level of defensive skill, so that winning a game becomes easier.
The goal of smash blocking is to prevent the opponents from scoring points from their smashes, and also try to turn the tide of battle. There are many specific smash blocking techniques, but all of them fit into three general categories.
Category 1: Power smash blocking. The defender swings the racket when blocking the smash, hitting the bird to the back of the opponent's side of the court. The faster the smash is, the faster the return will be. This kind of blocking can also be split into upper body blocking and lower body blocking. If the birdie flies above the waist level, then try to hold the racket with the head pointing up and drive the bird back to the opponent and force the opponent to defend. If the birdie flies below waist level, then there's no choice but to use an underhand swing to clear the bird to backcourt. In the first case where the bird is above waist level, sometimes it's more advantageous to use the backhand grip even if the bird is in the forehand part of the coverage. The backhand grip allows you to have a quicker swing and also you wouldn't have to change grips from backhand to forehand and vice versa. In the second case when you have to lift the bird, be ready for more smashes or other attacking shots, since your opponent is still in the position to attack.
Category 2: Deflective smash blocking. The defender doesn't swing the racket and uses only the original force of the smash and the angle of the racket face to deflect the shuttlecock back into the opponent's court. This technique is most effective when the bird is deflected to an empty part of the opponent's court. If used well, this type of blocking is more effective than category 1, but it depends on the trajectory and target of the bird. This technique may not be very effective if the opponent follows the returns and gets closer and closer to the net. Because no swinging is involved, this blocking technique can cover a larger area than other techniques since the arm can be fully outstretched. It is commonly used in singles competition.
Category 3: Drop return smash blocking. The goal of this technique is not to hit or deflect the bird, but rather using a flick of the wrist, to turn an oncoming smash into a drop shot that just passes the net and lands in the front corners. This makes sure that the opponent won't be able to continue the attack. This, of course, is the hardest block to execute but probably also the most effective. Note that in order to slow the momentum of an oncoming smash, the racket will sometimes sort of "carry" the bird. Carrying is a violation, so make sure the bird and racket don't make contact for too long.
No matter which technique you use, all smash blocking require having quick reactions, racket control, muscular control and a clear head. Also try to lower your centre of gravity as smashes almost always fly towards the ground and stand in the spot that will give you the best position to defend.