In this post, we are going to talk about the badminton clear. As a beginner, this is the first shot you need to master before moving onto other shots. For singles, this is probably the most used shot of all and it is used in the neutral play when neither player has the initiative of the rally.
Before we get started with the details, though, let’s first clarify some basics.
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What is a clear shot in badminton?
A clear shot in badminton is when a player hits the shuttle from the rear of the court to the rear of the opponent’s court.
This shot, mostly used in singles, tends not to be a very offensive shot, so you will hardly ever score a winner with it. However, it is very important in the neutral play, when you are trying to move your opponent around in order to find a weakness and gain the initiative.
What are the different types of clear shots in badminton?
There are basically two types of clear shots in badminton, with a division within each of these two types depending on the type of grip used to perform it. They are as follows:
- Defensive clear shot
- Defensive clear forehand shot
- Defensive clear backhand shot
- Offensive clear shot
- Offensive clear forehand shot
- Offensive clear backhand shot
Defensive clear shot
A defensive clear shot is a shot that goes from the rear of one court to the rear of the other court and has a raising trajectory until it loses speed and starts falling down. This is very different from other shots such as the smash or the drop shot, where the shuttle travels always on a downward trajectory.
The defensive clear shot is usually performed at the first stages of a badminton rally in singles when you are testing the waters and trying to find a way to gain the initiative without exposing yourself too much.
It is also used when you are under pressure from your opponent and you need some time to recover your position. In this case, the higher you can send the shuttle, the more time you will have to recover your position and be ready for the next shot.
Defensive clear forehand shot
The forehand version of the defensive clear shot is the first shot you need to learn when starting to play badminton and it is performed with the forehand grip. If you are not sure what a forehand grip is, then visit our badminton grip guide where we explain the difference between the types of grips and we walk you through how to perform them.
Defensive clear backhand shot
The backhand version is usually much more difficult to master, but the idea behind the shot is the same, sending the shuttle from the back of one court to the back of the other court.
The shot is so difficult to master, though, that in our badminton tactics post, one of the tactics suggested is to put a lot of pressure on the backhand clear shot of your opponent, since that tends to bring advantages when playing against a lot of beginners and also intermediate players.
The difference with the forehand version is that the backhand shot is performed with a backhand grip instead of a forehand grip.
Offensive clear forehand shot
The offensive clear shots have a different flavor to them. Instead of being a purely defensive shot that is done in order to test the waters, the offensive clear shot adds one gear to the speed of the rally.
In this case, the trajectory of the shuttle is not raising during the flight but is mostly flat, keeping the same height for almost all its flight until it slows down enough to start falling because of the loss in speed.
This type of shot is riskier because you will have less time to reach the base position after performing it. Moreover, because the trajectory of the shuttle is flat, your opponent can catch the shuttle halfway the flight, which would give you even less time to reach the base position.
The advantage is that, if you place it correctly and your opponent cannot reach the point comfortably before having to shoot back, you can create a position of advantage in the rally and start having the initiative. This can be especially useful when you direct your shot to the backhand of your opponent because usually the capacity to recover from that position is lower for most players.
Offensive clear forehand shot
As with the defensive shots, the forehand offensive clear forehand shot is the one that is performed with your forehand.
Offensive clear backhand shot
Out of the four types of clear shots, this is probably the one that will be less used. Why? Because players usually have a weaker backhand than forehand and, therefore, whenever you are playing with your backhand, you are in a position of disadvantage. As a result, playing an offensive clear backhand shot might not be a very good idea, even if you have the ability to perform it, which can be tricky even for intermediate players.
Having explained the different types of clears, let’s now move on to the situations where you would use them.
When would you use a clear shot in badminton?
As we said at the beginning of the post, clear shots are mostly used in singles, but they can have a small use also in doubles. Let’s look at the possible uses for both modalities.
When would you use a clear shot in badminton singles?
In singles, there is a phase on the point which is called neutral play. Here, you are testing the waters in order to find a weakness on your partner and gain an advantage. During this phase of the rally, clear shots are widely used because they are low-risk shots. As in finance, low risk means low returns, so you will hardly ever win a rally with a clear shot, but it can be useful in order to start building up a good attack.
Another moment where you can use a clear shot is when you are at a disadvantage and you need some time in order to recover your posture and position. In this case, a defensive clear shot can help you gain a few extra seconds that can help you go back to a less disadvantageous position. The risk with a very defensive shot is that, if it falls very short from the rear line, your opponent might have an easy time attacking it and winning the rally.
Last, but not least, you can also use a clear shot in singles as a change in gears. You can use an offensive clear shot in order to speed things up a bit after a long neutral play phase. You can also use a defensive clear shot in order to slow things down after you have attempted a few offensive shots but you have not gained many advantages and you need to try a different type of attack.
When would you use a clear shot in badminton doubles?
As useful as the clear shot is in singles, you should hardly use it in doubles. In doubles, it is extremely important to keep the initiative of the point when you have it. Therefore, using a clear shot would just give the initiative of the rally to your opponents in a silver tray, which is a receipt for disaster.
The only exception is that sometimes you would want to use a clear shot in doubles as a surprise shot. In this case, you will most likely use an offensive clear shot because with a defensive one your opponents would have time to recover from the surprise and use the initiative that you have given them.
How do you improve your clear shot in badminton?
We will divide this section also in two parts since the tips are different if you want to improve your forehand clear shot or your backhand clear shot.
How do you improve your forehand clear shot in badminton?
To improve a shot, you can improve many different parts that require you to focus on different aspects of your game. You can either improve the power of a shot, you can improve the accuracy of a shot, you can improve the consistency of a shot and you can also improve the gesture of the shot so it is more difficult for your opponent to know which shot you are going to perform by only looking at you.
For the beginner’s level and for what can be taught through a blog post, we are going to focus on improving the power of the shot and the accuracy of the shot.
The consistency of the shot is mostly improved by being very thorough in your practice and making sure you always shoot the shuttle in the same way. Regarding being able to “hide” which shot you are about to perform, this is not a very important skill at a more basic level and it complicates unnecessarily the skills you need to achieve.
In order to improve the power of your forehand clear shot, it is very important to use your whole body. This means using your legs, both of your arms and also your core in a fully coordinated movement to hit the shuttle.
Believe it or not, once you have mastered the power, you will not need to use all your strength to reach the rear of the court. When you can comfortably reach the end of the court, it will be much easier to control the direction of the shuttle, since you will be a bit more relaxed and will not have to use your whole strength just to apply enough power to the shuttle.
So, in order to use your full body, follow these simple steps:
- Flex a little bit your legs, with the racket leg being a bit more towards the backcourt, when getting ready to hit the shuttle, so you can use the energy from the legs to send the shuttle further away.
- Tilt your body a bit towards the back and a bit towards the side while raising your non-racket arm, also to use the energy as a leverage for the shot.
- Once the shuttle is close enough so you can hit the shuttle, propel yourself with your racket leg towards the shuttle.
- At the same time, bring your non-racket arm down, turn your torso and bring the elbow of your racket arm towards the front.
- As a final movement, rotate your elbow in order to bring your racket towards the front with a fast and swift movement while landing on your racket leg.
How do you improve your backhand clear shot in badminton?
Regarding your backhand clear shot, we are going to focus only on increasing power. This is because this shot is the last resource that you take whenever you have not managed to reach the shuttle with the forehand, so I see it as a defensive shot. In addition to that, at beginner levels, the quality of most backhands is so low that being able to send a backhand all the way to the back of the court will be seen as a huge achievement.
So, first, always try to reach the shuttle with a forehand grip, even if the shuttle is on the backhand side of the court. If not, just focus on returning the shuttle all the way to the back so you can recover your position and continue in the rally without having given too much advantage.
So, in order to improve the power of your backhand clear, follow the instructions below:
- Make sure you have a good backhand grip. This is often overlooked but not having the proper grip will make any other of the points explained after useless. If you are not sure how to hold the racket with a backhand grip, please check our badminton grip guide, where we walk you through it.
- When you are going towards the shuttle and you start to take your position, bring your elbow up before starting the hitting move. This will help generate more power.
- As you are moving towards the shuttle, rotate your torso away from the shuttle so then you can use that extra movement to give some more power to the shot.
- To start the movement to hit the shuttle, rotate your forearm and not your whole arm. This might sound counterintuitive because you are only using a part of your arm, but this is the best way in order to originate power. The key is doing the rotation of your forearm (also called supination) fast.
- While rotating the forearm, also rotate the torso towards the shuttle in order to get some power from the movement.
- As a final tip, try stepping on the floor just before you hit the shuttle. This way, you can also use the power of your legs to help to generate power.
If you want to see this information in a video format, the Youtube channel Badminton Famly has a great video where these points are explained interactively. A great resource to check.
Badminton clear drills
In order to improve your clear shot, the basic thing to do is to practice, practice and practice it. In order to practice it, there are certain drills you can do.
Clear to clear drill
This is the most basic drill for clears and the one you should be focusing on if you are just starting. This drill consists of two players, each on the end of their side of the court, shooting clears at each other back and forth, trying to send the clear to the location where the other person is. The drill has four main variations.
Clear to clear straight forehand drill
In this drill, you are both hitting the shuttle with the forehand grip and you are sending the shuttle straight to the other side of the court.
Clear to clear cross-court forehand drill
In this drill, you are both hitting the shuttle with the forehand grip and you are sending the shuttle diagonally to the other side of the court.
Clear to clear straight backhand drill
If you are both right-handed or left-handed, then only one of you will be able to practice the backhand shot. If one is right-handed and the other one left-handed, then you can both practice it at the same time.
In this drill, you are hitting the shuttle with your backhand and trying to send it straight to the other side of the court.
Clear to clear cross cross-court forehand drill
If you are both right or left-handed, then the two of you will be able to practice the backhand shot. If one if right-handed and the other one left-handed, then only one of you can practice it.
In this drill, you are hitting the shuttle with your backhand and trying to send it diagonally to the other side of the court.
Badminton routines for mastering the clear shot
As soon as you know how to perform the clear from a standing position, it is a good idea to add some movement in order to replicate a bit better what will happen in a match. In order to achieve that, there is an almost infinite amount of routines you can create. This will become a very important part of your overall training.
What is a badminton routine? It is a drill where several different types of shots are combined with movement around the court in order to reflect a bit more what would happen in a rally. Even though the possibilities are endless, I have described here two examples so you can get a good idea of what I mean.
Serve – clear – drop – lob routine
This is a very basic routine but works quite well for beginners. Here, the drill goes as follows:
- Player A serves a high serve
- Player B shoots a clear
- Player A replies with a drop
- Player B replies with a lob
- Player A shoots a clear
- Player B replies with a drop
- (and it goes on)…
It is a simple routine that makes sure that both players practice all different shots and it does not over complicate matters.
Serve – clear – clear – drop – net – lob routine
This is a slightly more complex routine, but still very easy to follow once you get the hang of it. The routine goes as follows:
- Player A serves a high serve
- Player B shoots a clear
- Player A replies with a clear
- Player B replies with a drop
- Player A shoots a net shot
- Player B replies with a lob shot
- Player A shoots a clear
- Player B replies with a clear
- Player A shoots a drop
- (and it goes on)…
As you can see, this one has a few more steps to complete each round but is still quite simple. This exercise can be adapted to any type of shot (you can add drive shots, smashes, whatever you want). You can also increment the number of different shots to be performed in each round in order to increase the difficulty and demand a higher focus from the players.
And with this, we have arrived at the end of this post. Is there something that is not fully clear regarding the badminton clear shot? Then let us know in the comments below!
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Attribution: Sandro Halank, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0