Design of winning tactics in badminton – Part 1
Whenever you play a badminton match or match, you will inevitably be playing a tactical game, even if you don’t know it. This can be very simple, especially for beginners when hitting the shuttle towards the back of the court followed by “hitting” the shuttle just over the net is all the player knows and needs.
I love tactical badminton. It’s the area where the right tactics can completely turn the game in your favor if executed correctly. Tactics can also be a great leveler when playing with a partner who is slightly better equipped in their skill set. I’m not talking about a big split here, but enough to win.
If tactics are so critical to achieving a positive result in a match, i.e. a win, why are so few players, especially at the intermediate level, even considering applying a tactical approach to improve their chances of winning?
This has intrigued me for a long time. So I started talking to the players before they came on the pitch. The results surprised me…
Most of the players I interviewed hadn’t even discussed their opponents, let alone figured out a way to beat them. In fact, they rarely communicate during the match. All I could get from watching was the idea that when they were losing they needed to “try harder.”
Overall, this “trying harder” resulted in a brief burst of intensity and a more aggressive attitude.
Occasionally this will work, but for the most part it’s sadly lacking and won’t help you win. Usually club badminton players cannot sustain this intensity and run out of energy. Or they don’t have the skills to take shots at this level with any degree of consistency or accuracy, which leads to more mistakes.
Advanced players tend to have a much better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. They are also able to assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of the opposition and quickly adapt their tactics to change the game. They also often possess the racket and movement skills to carry out their change of tactics.
So how does an intermediate player bridge the gap and learn what advanced players know?
In this series of articles I aim to answer this question and also discuss ways in which advanced players can increase their own tactical capabilities.
First of all, you need to critically assess your strengths and weaknesses. How do you do this? In its simplistic form, you need to consider which areas of the court you are most comfortable with and which areas of the court you are least comfortable with. This acts only as a guide, but would suggest that it is strongest where it is most comfortable and weakest in areas where it is least comfortable. Easy.
Let’s take an example. If you feel more comfortable at the front then you are more likely to be stronger at the net than perhaps at the back.
Ask your club and badminton mates where they consider you to be strongest and weakest, you may be surprised by the information they tell you. There is a potential flaw here as we need to establish how you are being rated. Do they rate you against yourself or compare you to them or other players in the club? Ideally, you want to ensure that you are rated solely based on your on-court prowess by comparing your abilities in different areas of the court.
It is worth taking this step further to close the first part of this article. Let’s dig a little deeper and create a scorecard without getting too technical… that’s coming later as you go.
I created a simple checklist where you rate your ability in each area out of 10 for BOTH, both consistency and accuracy. The scoring system is simply 0-10, where 0 means you can’t play a shot and 10 means you can play perfectly with extremely high levels of consistency and accuracy.
Be honest, otherwise you will only be fooling yourself by presenting a completely unrealistic picture of your abilities.
- low service
- Fast service
- boost service
- Return Service
- clear right
- clear reverse
- backhand blow
- net shot
- net kill
- Movement to the back court
- Movement around the middle of the court
- Movement to the esplanade
Of course you could have added to this list including straight shots and cross courts. If you want to add these, then be my guest. However, for the sake of creating a starting point, I reckon there are enough shots and abilities on the list to get a good idea of how this works.
In my opinion, an intermediate player will rarely score more than 50% on any shot, with the possible exception of serving. So think very carefully when completing this table.
In the next part of this article, you will learn how to use this information, how to take a snapshot of this to assess your doubles partner, and how to use this as a checklist to assess your opponents.