Having great net play in badminton is what allows you to play offensively and force your opponents into tight situations.
On the other hand, if you lack good net play, you are subject to your opponents’ offense and cannot play many strategies which will, in turn, cause you to lose rallies and games.
That’s why practicing your net shots is crucial to your success in badminton!
But before we get into different net shots, first we need to talk about certain types of net shots, when to play them, and how to play them.
For types of net shots, I’m going to talk about the cross court net shot, spinning net shot, and a soft push net shot.
First the cross court net shot. There are two ways to play this, one is for the offense, and one is on the defensive. For the offensive one, you should approach the shuttle like you’re going to hit it straight and then change direction last second by turning your wrist and hitting it cross.
On the defensive, it’s generally the same concept you’re hitting it from under the net. This is what you play if the opponent plays an extremely tight net shot or net rolls on you and you can’t play a lift.
If you’re not on the defense, cross court net shots are usually used to play variations or make your opponent run more by making the go cross court.
Then you have a spinning net shot. These net shots are usually straight, and as the name suggests, the shuttle should spin over the net. Typically, you achieve this with a little slicing for your shot.
Playing a spinning net shot will force your opponent to make short lifts, play back uncontrolled net shots, or just miss the shot in the first place. You almost always want to play a spinning net shot, but it isn’t necessarily possible to play it all the time without making mistakes.
That’s why we also have a soft push net shot. This net shot usually goes forward towards the service line and you play it in the times you can’t play a spinning net shot. You see these shots being played a lot more while on the offense after you smash because it’s quite difficult to control the shuttle when you have momentum.
With net shots, it’s all about your control.
Practicing straight net shots are easier than cross court because you don’t need anyone to throw the shuttle to you. You just need a partner to play with you.
It’s a simple drill. For three to five minutes, just net shot to each other on a half court and then switch sides. This way you get both backhand and forehand net shots.
Every time you net shot, it’s a good idea to move back and then lunge forward, and net shot again. This simulates a real badminton match where you’ll likely move back after you net shot.
One drill I also like to incorporate into my training is playing three net shots and then attempting to net kill or flick it into the back. This practice gives you a better understanding of what you can or can’t kill as well as more control around the net. Plus you’ll be more confident in not hitting the net when you’re net killing.
It’s tough to cross court net shot back and forth to each other mainly because, unless you’re a professional, cross court net shots don’t consistently make to the sideline. Sometimes they end up in the middle or at a point where your partner will use a different grip to hit it back.
For practicing cross court net shots, I like to have a partner throw shuttles which I hit cross court. Do about 5 sets of 20 for both forehand and backhand sides.
You should incorporate the defensive and offensive cross court net shots into your practice. This way you’ll have more tools for different badminton scenarios.
One thing to note about these drills is your approach. Around the net is when we often play a lot of deceptions, and they always come from your approach. Try to approach all your net shots with a straight net shot position and then turn/flick your wrist last second to play a different shot.
Have you ever had a moment where you played a net shot, and then your opponent cross court net shotted back? Or when you cross court net shot and they play a straight net shot back?
These drills don’t focus as much on the quality of your net shots or technique but rather your speed of getting to each side of the net. This is how it’ll go.
Your partner will throw a shuttle to either your forehand side or backhand side, and then you will play anything. Net shot or lift, it doesn’t matter. After you hit the shuttle, your partner will immediately throw another shuttle to the opposite side, and you’ll hit that.
One thing with this drill is always to move back to the middle. If you’re not moving back to the center, you get no value out of these drills. It’s designed to simulate a real badminton scenario.
Once you get more advanced, you can have your partner mix it up and throw it anywhere. This way your reflexes get better too, and you can respond to anything your opponent does.
If you don’t practice your net shots, you’re missing out. Do you want to make powerful smashes on your opponent? You’re going need to force your opponent to lift with your net shots.
That’s why it’s a good idea to go out and practice your net shots. They’re crucial for badminton, singles, doubles, mixed doubles alike.