Badminton Tactics – How to Increase Your Chances of Winning


If you are looking for a competitive edge in badminton, choosing the right tactics can go a long way in maximizing your current skill set. This way, you will have a better chance to beat opponents that would usually be outside of your reach.

This post, tailored to beginners and intermediate players, will show you certain principles that can be applied to your matches in order to improve your chances of winning the battle.

A word of caution, though. Tactics are naturally interlinked with your skill set and that of your opponent. Therefore, you must tailor the tactics to yourself and to the specific match. Using the same tactics for all matches is a recipe for disaster.

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Know your strengths and weaknesses and those of your opponent

As we said above, before you can start thinking about which tactics are the best for the match at play, you should have a clear understanding of which are your strengths and which are your weaknesses. This is the most important step to take to make sure you choose the right tactics.

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Lin Dan is well known for his offensive style, maximising his skills set.

If, for example, you are in great physical condition, one tactic you will be able to use often is to try to lengthen the points in order to exhaust your opponent. You might lose some of the first points using this tactic. However, when your opponent finally reaches exhaustion, you will have an easier time winning the rest of the points.

Once you know which are your strengths, you can decide which tactics will make the most of them from the list below.

The second step is knowing your opponent strengths and weaknesses. This is also critical to know because if your opponent has a strength that is the same as yours, you will not be able to use tactics that exploit that strength against him or her.

Following the example from above, if your opponent is in an even better physical condition than you are, it would not make sense to try to lengthen the points as much as possible because you will end up being tired before he or she is.

Once you are aware of both your skill set and that of your opponent, it is a good time to start thinking about tactics. In this post, we have divided the tactics into tactics for singles and tactics for doubles, as the approach to both types of games is very different.

Badminton tactics in singles

For singles, and especially at amateur levels, the main consideration is that the court seems very big for only one player. There is a lot of moving around needed. Therefore, carefully selecting your shots will have a big impact on the result of the match.

Extraordinary tennis for the ordinary player – A great book that can also be applied to badminton

Simon Ramo, a scientist and statistician, wrote a fascinating book that is not very well know. The book is called Extraordinary tennis for the ordinary player. It explores the idea of how amateur tennis players would improve their chances of winning if they tried to avoid mistakes instead of trying to score points.

If you want to understand a bit more the logic behind this but don’t want to buy the book, you can also check this article which explains the concept in a bit more detail.

Even though the concept is not as powerful for badminton as it is for tennis, the same principle still applies. When playing at an amateur level, playing to avoid mistakes is a great general tactic that can increase your chances of winning the game.

Endurance and quick footwork, two skills that you can exploit in singles

If your main skills are that you are in great physical condition and you can move around the court with ease and speed, you should focus your game on trying to lengthen the rallies as much as possible.

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Such a rally would finish anybody without a good physical endurance.

This way you can tire out your opponent, whose game will worsen dramatically once he or she doesn’t have enough stamina to keep playing at his or her normal level.

Powerful smash, a deadly skill that needs to be used with caution

If your main skill is a powerful smash, you will be happy to hear that it is one of the most important skills to have in badminton. Why? Because it is the best way to finish the points with a winner.

However, it is a shot that can become dangerous for yourself if you overuse it when playing singles. As there is a lot of court to cover and you are playing alone, you should only use the smash shot when you are in a comfortable position and you are sure that you have a good chance of finishing the rally with that shot or in the next one or two.

Targetting the backhand on the end of the court, a very effective tactic at the beginners level

A very simple and effective tactic for singles is to target with your shots the backhand shot in the back of the court. Why is that? Because it is usually the shot that most people struggle with.

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A tutorial about how to improve your backhand, where the fact that the backhand is the weakest shot of most people is mentioned.

By targetting that area of the court often, you will be able to gain the lead of the point easily.

This tactic is very dependent on the skill of your opponent, as you are exploiting a weakness from the other player more than your own strength.

Before you use this tactic, make sure that your own backhand shots are better than average, as this tactic can backfire easily if your opponent catches it and decides to use it against you also.

Net play, a tricky yet rewarding tactic to use

Net play is a very risky move, as the precision needed there in order not to lose a rally is much higher. With a clear shot, you don’t need that much precision in order to stay in the game. With a net shot, however, you better make sure it is precise enough or you will end up losing the point in a few shots.

If your net play is very good for your level, then you can use that riskiness to your advantage. Try bringing the game to the net as frequently as possible and your opponent will have two main chances: Either battle you there or lose the lead in every single point.

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Net play is risky but can be a good strategy if your opponent is much weaker than you in the net.

Badminton tactics in doubles

The tactics to use in doubles are quite different than those to use in singles. Whereas in singles most points are won when your opponent cannot reach the position where you shot the shuttle, in doubles most points are finished with a powerful attacking shot. Moreover, because there are two players on each court, it is much easier for one of them to reach the shuttle so trying to move your opponents around will not get you anywhere.

Powerful defense, a good skill but a doomed tactic

At the amateur level, sometimes, the importance of keeping the initiative in doubles is not understood enough. Apart from special exceptions, you are calling trouble if you pretend to win doubles matches only defending. Therefore, making sure you have the initiative as much as possible is the most basic of tactics when playing doubles.

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Even though some of the points are won by the players that were defending most of the time, these are exceptions. The important idea to grasp from this video is how the players try to win the initiative and attack whenever possible.

Target your attacks to the weakest opponent, especially when you smash from the center of the court

A good tactic to use in doubles is targetting your attacks to the weakest opponent, or at least the one with the weakest defence skills. By focusing your attacks towards the weakest player, you will increase your chances of winning the match.

A word of caution, though. Parallel smashes are always preferred to diagonal ones, as diagonal smashes make a parallel defence (to the side of the court you are not located) easier and more dangerous. Therefore, if you would have to smash diagonally in order to reach the weak opponent, think about it twice.

A smash in the middle of the two players can work very well

Another good tactic is to direct your smash to the middle of the two opponents, as this can sometimes lead to confusion as to who should return your shot.

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Smashing in the middle also ensures that the defender doesn’t have a very wide angle to return your shot

This tactic is especially effective if one of your opponents is right-handed and the other one left-handed, as they both will have to return your smash with the same shot (forehand or backhand), so it will not be very clear who is best suited to do so.

Final words

And with this, we have reached the end of this post. In this post, we have described the different tactics that can be used to improve your chances of winning.

First, we have specified that you need to know your strengths and weaknesses and those of your opponents.

Once you know that, you can decide which tactics suit best for the specific match at play.

Tactics vary greatly from singles to doubles. In singles, the court feels quite big for the beginner and intermediate players. Therefore, the tactics explained here focus on moving your opponent and looking for the weak spots.

In doubles, on the other hand, it is vital to keep the initiative of the rallies in order to succeed. Our tactics have explained that fact. Moreover, we have explained the best spots where to smash in order to keep the initiative and have a better chance to finish the rally successfully.

Is there any tactic that you use successfully that we have missed? Then let us know in the comments below!

By MiquelM

I have been playing badminton since I was a kid, playing in both national and international tournaments at a semi-professional level. If you want to know a bit more about me, check my "About me" page.

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