Saturday, April 16, 2016

Badminton Trick shots: when you get too much time on the court

Have you noticed that professional badminton players are throwing around a lot of trick shots lately? What used to the realm of Lin Dan and flamboyant doubles players is now becoming more and more commonplace.

When one reaches, or even surpasses their limits against their opponents, they reach a state of comfort in their game play, so much so that they're able to move and hit at their most efficient. This opens up the opportunity for the brain to channel more thoughts beyond where to hit the shuttle next.

This state of mind is, in my opinion, the best time to perform trick shots - highly technical shots made with the purpose of misleading and delaying the opponent's reaction to the shuttle.

When you're facing a tough opponent, it's almost impossible to throw off a good trick shot. The stress of the moment, coupled with the brain dominating in fast decision making processes, make it very hard for the calculated and smooth execution of a trick shot.

Turning the situation around, if you're up against an opponent you're more comfortable with, even if they are of a higher level, your mind starts to wonder what else you can do. The state of mind is then more conducive for a higher level technique. 

The above briefly states the nature of playing trick shots. Given the level of play some readers are used to, and for those aspiring to grow in technique, I will now attempt to explain some of the simpler trick shots I have managed to use with better success. 

Direction Change
This is pretty basic, and involves turning of the racket head away to sent the shuttle in the other direction. The approach should be early and obvious - "I am going to hit the shuttle in this direction." When at the next moment, having given the opponent enough time to process the information, change the destination of the shuttle.

This move is pretty easy to pull off. All you need is to be able to out your racket head forward in one direction and then change the hit to the other desired one. The other two shots are variations of the direction change, and will require a little more practice.

The shot is made with less power than intended, although a large swing gives the impression of a harder hit. The best time to use this move is when you're being pushed to execute an underarm clear. The opponent will most likely expect a high and defensive clear for you to buy time. 

This move is a test of control of the shuttle. The swing forward should be made at force and speed, and then taken away the moment before the racket head makes contact to perform a dipping net shot. Care has to be taken to place the shuttle as near to the net as possible, to have the cork on a downward trajectory so as to increase the distance between the shuttle and the opponent. 

A variation of this technique is the backspin. Instead of releasing power from the shot, the momentum of the swing is transferred to the shuttle in the form of a slice to the bottom of the cork, like a backspin in a game of tennis. This produces a low-arching shot that can cut very close to teh net and dips quickly. Because of the low arch, the shuttle will most likely travel further than an outright pull-back. 

Double Draw
So you've learnt how to change directions, and you've learnt to control the amount of force you put to the racket. It's now time to take things up a notch and perform what I call a double draw, or double motion. This involves moving the racket to take the shot, and pulling back the racket head before the hit, and then changing the direction of the shuttle. 

This is a little more convincing than a regular direction change in that the player actually commits to a hit, increasing the level of deception and showmanship. The racket head will actually be traveling in the same direction as the shuttle after the draw, and that is one awesome thing to see executed well on the court. 


Unknown said...

Hi Arthur,
Sorry to hear you're off court at the moment - hopefully you'll be back before long!

A quick question: I need a new racquet, and I wonder whether you have may any suggestions, as I'm a bit lost in the same of specs atm!

I'm a club/league player (UK), intermediate level (plenty of room to improve!); Currently playing with a voltric 5 which I find OK, but feel that perhaps a better head heavy or an even balance racquet would be worth a try. Budget-wise am flexible, but don't want to spend more than I need to (like everyone else, I guess!)

Would love to hear you opinion, Thanks! A

Arthur Wong said...

Hey there, thanks for reading!

Voltric 5s are ok for starters, but I feel you're better off with a Japanese-made graphite racket. You'll feel the difference right off the bat.

We'll need to examine the area of play in which you feel you need improvement in, then work in what sort of racket might be suitable.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly, Arthur!

In terms of my game, I have a good smash and a decent clear (although the latter could definitely be improved); overall, my attack is better than my defence, and I would say net play is where I need to improve most. I play doubles (ladies and mixed [less mixed, as I'm not a huge fan of being at the net - see earlier comment!) and do not tend to play singles at all.

I would really like to hear your suggestions for a suitable racquet; I was kind of gravitating towards the Voltric ZFII, just because I had read so many good things about it; I can get it in the UK for about £120 [LCW] or £130 [black] (representing the top end of my budget!), but not sure I need such a top-of-the-range racquet at this stage! The other one I was considering was the Arcsaber i-slash (about £85 here atm) - again, not sure whether this would be a good choice for me.

When you have a chance, I would love to hear your suggestions and/or advice!
Thanks again,

Arthur Wong said...

Hey there A, defense is a crucial skill for a doubles player to have, so you might want to look at what you're missing in that area. A proper defensive shot can give you a lot more attacking opportunities.

Your current racket is a little on the stiff side and heavy, so that might affect your clears. The lackluster net play can also be due to the weight in the racket.

The VT5 also has a larger head frame, which makes the Z-series of Yonex an undesirable choice, what with their narrower head frame that will demand a higher precision.

Given the above information, I would recommend a dark horse in the Yonex line for your trying out - the ArcSaber Flash Boost. The racket presents the user with a light frame with slight head-heavy orientation, slightly flexible and very quick on the draw.

I suspect defense and mobility will immediately improve for your game, and with time you will see improvement in overall doubles games. Hopefully the increased speed will let you take to the front of the courts with more confidence.

Being more willing to go at the net will demand better net play, and the Flash Boost will do well in that area given its mobility and weight.

Though the FB will reduce your back court game a little in terms of attack, your current prowess in attack will more than make up for the slight dip.

Hope my suggestion makes sense, and do let me know the outcome of your racket purchase!

Anonymous said...

Hi Arthur,

Thanks so much for the detailed suggestion; it's funny - out of all the racquets I've pored over, that was not the one I thought you might suggest (!) but strangely enough, a friend of mine (who has excellent net play!) has this racquet and absolutely loves it, so it's definitely on my shortlist. I'll try to borrow one to see how it feels. One thing: I am a little nervous wrt its fragility, but I guess that's a concern for a lot of higher-end racquets...? I will definitely let you know how I get on, and what I choose in the end (...don't hold your breath though, I tend to overthink these things!!),

Thanks again for your help,

Arthur Wong said...

Hey there A, glad to be of help.

As mentioned, the FB is a whole new creature since you're switching from a VT5. Your gameplay will probably suffer from the get-go, but I will advise to stick to it and use the racket for a straight 2-3 hour session to get used to it.

The racket has been known to be fragile. Higher tension (28lbs and above) and mishits will add to regular damage. I did not face any problems with mine though, so I hope you will enjoy the same experience.

All the best with the trial, and hope your game improves. Happy smashing!

Maxfieso villa said...

Hi arthur
Im looking for a new racket ,im Intermediate player ,i play double only ,should i take bs12 or zf2 lindan ? What should i take and why ? I wan to improve my smash and clear shot too ,please help me

Arthur Wong said...

Hey there Max,

If you're after smash and clear only, without consideration of any other factor, the ZF2 will fit the bill.

Sondre Mikkelsen said...

Hi Arthur!
I would like to see your reviews on some of the newest duora rackets: The Duora 77, Duora 88 or/and Duora 7. I would like to know the differences from the Duora 10!

Arthur Wong said...

Hi there Sondre,

I'm afraid I'm still recovering from a slipped disc and won't be able to get back into the game in the short to mid term.

In the meantime, I can still answer questions on the blog :)

Hope to get back into the game one day and resume reviews for this wonderful sport.

Anonymous said...

Hi Arthur. I love and appreciate your reviews and agree with all your review. I also think we have a similar playstyle. I am going to buy a new badminton racket for singles play and would like to hear your opinion and suggestion between buying a Li Ning N90 or the Yonex Z- Force 2 LCW(3U). You gave them both a 8- defence, 9- control, 10 offence so was wondering what you would recommend. I can manage the weight but was wondering which was heavier. I love to smash to was also wonder which racket offers the best smash. Overall would like you to recommend a choice between the two. Thanks! Its greatly appreciated!

- Michael

Arthur Wong said...

Hey there Michael, glad you enjoy reading!

They're both really good rackets, and I have a lot of fun using both of them. Between the two, the N90 is perhaps more user friendly given its larger head frame. Because of that, it's also a tad heavier in my opinion.

The Z-Force 2 is a monster created with the newest technology, and feels a lot more comfortable in my games. The N90 has a cumbersome feel due to its larger frame and thicker shaft - that somehow drops my defense to a level that i am not particularly at ease with.

As far as smashing is concerned, I'm both will give off a comparative level of power. In summary, I would recommend the ZF2. It's a lot more comfortable once you get the hang of the small head frame, and being newer to the market, you're most likely to get something that's not been sitting around for too long on the shelf.

Hope that helps, and happy smashing!

Hamza Nisar said...

Would you recommend the victor v-3700 magan racket? I see it as a good choice.

Arthur Wong said...

I wouldn't know Hamza, I've not tried the racket yet.

Santhushya Lakshman said...

Hello Arthur,
I'm interested in getting a new racket. I'm currently using a Voltaic 5, I'm an intermediate level player and have a rather aggressive play style and I'd like some advice in what rackets I should get.
Thanks in advance

Santhushya Lakshman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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Arthur Wong said...

Hey there Santhushya, you'd want something really heavy and stiff like the ZF2. Forget about the lower end rackets if you're able to - they're not worth the effort for intermediate players.

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Unknown said...

Hi Arthur, hope you're doing well and healed from your injuries. I want to buy a li ning woods N90 racket and am going back and forth on the N90 II and N90 (original, used by Lin Dan). I am really looking for the racket that will give me the most power. I don't use a lot of wriSt so I think I will be able to handle the weight of the N90. On your reviews, u rated the N90 higher in attacks but then u mention that were smashes seemed to be faster with the N90 II but only gave it an 8/10. I was wondering which racket you would recommend in terms of smashing. Thanks!

Arthur Wong said...

Hey there, thanks for checking in. The back's recovering well - I had surgery done to remove part of the disc that was protruding. Don't think I'll be playing for quite awhile and I miss the game terribly.

The main difference between the two is the stiffness of the racket shaft. I am more used to a stiffer response, hence the N90.

You should go with with that you're more comfortable with, rather than what some player used to use, in my opinion.

I rate attacks in my reviews as a combination of smashes and drives - essentially what I use to get points. Smashes are a part of the whole experience, not the whole.

In term of smashing, I favor the N90 because of my preference for quick wrist smashes.

Devin Surya said...

Hi Arthur, how have u been doing mate?
I really wish you well and totally healed from your injury. Kinda missing your reviews and such here.

Arthur Wong said...

Hey there Devin,

All's well in rehab.. I'm standing and sitting without much pain now. Getting gym visits and long walks in more regularly too.

Will still a long while before I can get back on the courts, but I'm moving in the right direction.

Thank you so much for having me in your thoughts. I really look forward to returning here one day. Till then, please enjoy the beautiful game, and feel free to ask me any questions you might have :)