Starting Right - How crucial is the serve


As the service marks the start of every rally and subsequently dictates its flow, it is a crucial aspect of the game to get right in badminton.

These are the four main types of services in badminton and most can be executed with either your forehand or backhand.

1. Low serve

This low serve is almost a gentle tap over the net with the shuttle, with the aim of flying just over the net, yet falling just over the front line of his service court. It must not be too high or predictable, otherwise it would be easy for your opponent to do an outright smash or net kill. 

2. High serve

The high serve is a powerful strike upwards with the shuttle, that aims to travel a great distance upwards and fall deep at the rear end of the court.

Although it is a strong serve and the popular choice of beginner players, its a serve that isn't so easy to disguise especially since you're using a forehand grip. Your opponent will already expect the shuttlecock to land at the back of the court.

Do remember that shuttlecocks have to fall within the corresponding service areas and this is different in singles and doubles.

3. Flick serve

This flick serve is also played upwards but at a much lesser altitude. It is most common for players to use their backhand to execute the flick serve and the trajectory is lower as this grip has less power.

The whole point of the backhand flick serve is deception, by mixing your serves up and making it look like you're doing a low serve. For this reason, serving with your backhand is thus very popular with competitive players.

It becomes hard for your opponent to predict if you are going to do a flick or a low serve as your stroke will look exactly the same until the point of contact.

4. Drive Serve

This is an attacking serve that is used by top badminton players like Lin Dan. The idea is to hit the shuttle directly at your opponent, limiting their return options and catching them off guard, winning you easy points. It's a good change of pace but it is also risky as if your opponent is prepared, he could just smash the shuttlecock back at you.

This serve is executed with your forehand through underarm action and following through. The shuttle should be dropped a bit sideways rather than in front of your body and hit flatter.

Now that you've determined the type of serve you want to make, here are a four tips on how to execute these serves well.

1) Keep your feet still

During the service, some part of both your feet must be in contact with the ground for it to be a legal serve.

2) Disguise your shots

Make sure your stroke is the same up to the point of contact with the shuttle. This will make your serve possible to predict only at the last possible second. Advanced players can try to trick their opponent by making it deliberately look like you're leaning back and about to do a high serve when you're really going to do a low serve.

3) Observe your opponents position

Is your opponent leaning towards the back already anticipating a high serve to the rear-court? In that case, you may want to execute a low serve to catch him off-guard. Always be aware of the position of your opponent. Try to imagine what he's expecting and do the opposite to gain an advantage.

4) Mix up your serves

Using just one type of service will make you too easy to predict. Make sure you incorporate at least two types of serves into your play. Once you've mastered the basic high and low serves, you can learn the flick and drive serves to add more dimension to your play.

In a nutshell, executing a service well allows you to start the rally strong and dictate its flow.