How to defend a high and long serve in singles?

by Priya


Question: How to defend a high and long serve in singles? Is there any way to give back a nice shot to such a serve in singles which is high and long? If yes then what is it please let me know, it’s my weakest point in this game.

Hi Priya, thanks for your question.

To give back a nice shot, timing is crucial.

Understand The Problem

Mistiming your hit when you receive a high and long serve can result in a poor return shot.

In other words, you miss hitting the shuttle with the ‘sweet spot’ of your racket’s string bed (roughly the centre of the racket).

The picture above shows an example of the flight trajectory of a very high badminton shot.

Some badminton players have this weakness, so don’t worry.

It’s difficult to get your timing right when your opponent gives you such a high and steep shot.

Therefore, if this is your weakness, you tend to make poor contact with the shuttle – that is, the shuttle does not hit the centre of the racket’s string bed. Hence, you return a low quality shot.

The Solution

1. Return Simple Shots:
When your opponent hits the high and steep serve to you, perform easier shots such as the badminton clear (i.e. lobbing) rather than a smash or jump smash (these shots require more precision and timing)

The badminton clear is one of the simplest shot to perform. Compared to hitting a smash or drop shot, the badminton clear shot is the simplest to time.

2. Speed:
When your opponent performs the high serve, you have more than enough time to get in position.

Despite having more time, get behind the shuttle as early as possible. You will have more time to think about what shots to perform.

See the next point on confidence.

3. Confidence:
Be confident! This is a very important element. When you’re aiming to hit the high serve coming towards you, you must have the confidence to take it. Believe in yourself!

Therefore, get to the shuttle as early as possible. Ask yourself whether you are confident hitting riskier shots (such as the drop shot or smash). If not, return a clear.

In real life situations, players will return clears if they are not confident defending a high shot.

4. Practice and Consistency:
Lots of practice will definitely improve your timing.

If you play badminton frequently (2 times or more a week), your timing of your shots will improve a lot.

You’ll also be more confident to take high serves (or any high shots) coming from your opponent.

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