Wide variety of strokes offered by this sport requires high level of skills by the players for effective performance especially at an international level. The two major strokes being the backhand stroke and the forehand stroke. A forehand stroke is hit from the same side as playing hand where as a backhand stroke is hit from the opposite or non-playing hand. For a right handed player, forehand side is their right side and vice versa for the backhand players. A forehand stroke is hit with the front of the hand (like hitting with the palms) where as a backhand stroke is hit with the back of the hand (like hitting with the knuckles). Frequently players use their forehand to hit backhand strokes and vice versa depending on the requirement in that situation.
Most of the strokes can be played effectively using the back or forehand in the forecourt of midcourt. However, in the rarecourt, most of the strokes are with the forehand with preference often given to round-the-head forehand overhead (a forehand "on the backhand side") instead of a backhand over head since this is the most difficult stroke of this sport. The two major disadvantages of this stroke are – one the player is required to turn their view from their opponents thereby blocking the view of the court and opponents. Secondly, the strength required to overcome this stroke is much higher than the forehand one thereby making this a weak shot. One needs to have enough strength and precise technique to make an effective shot of this stroke.
Position of shuttlecock and receiving player in Badminton
The choice depends on a few factors – like the distance between the shuttlecock and the net, if it is above the net height or not and position of the player. If the player is positioned in the forecourt, a high shuttlecock will be responded with a net kill where the player hits the shuttle very hard with his forehand allowing it to travel very fast steeply down to the other end of the net. This is the best way to drop the shuttlecock just over the net and this will generally result in no reply by the opponent. If the player is positioned in the midcourt, a high shuttlecock will also be responded by a similar stroke or a smash. However, this requires high athletic jumps as the distance required to travel by the shuttle is more in this case. This is generally responded by a weak or no reply but sometimes the response can be equally combative if the opponents are skilled for the situation. If the player is positioned in the rarecourt, the scenario is entirely different. The response is generally over the head stroke, clears (hitting the shuttle high back in the projectile track to the opponent) and dropshots (hitting the shuttlecock gently such that it drops just short of the opponent).
Vertical position of the shuttlecock
When the shuttlecock is well below net height, players have to hit the shuttle upwards. Lifts, where the shuttlecock is hit upwards to the back of the opponents' court, can be played from all parts of the court. If the player is unable to lift, the other option is push the shuttlecock softly back to just above net - in the forecourt this is called a netshot; in the midcourt or rearcourt, it is often called a push or block.
When the shuttlecock is near to net height, players can hit drives. Here, the shuttlecock travels flat to the opponent rarecourt or mid rarecourt. A push stroke can also be hit flat landing the shuttlecock in the opponent’s front midcourt. These types of strokes are generally used while playing doubles. If the drive or push stroke is successful, often the opponents will be forced to lift the shuttlecock.
After the players have mastered these basic strokes, this sport offers a range of advance strokes (practiced more at an international level) to deceive the opponents. Since the players need to cover a short distance is less time, the opponent is made to assume the stroke being played which leads to wrong decisions or need to wait till the shot is actually played which again leads to delay in response there by losing their point. These two are the main deception strategies planned by the players at an advance level. Here, the experience of the players plays a very important role as this will result in assuming the deception strategy correctly to ensure quick movements to hit back the shuttlecock.
The two major technical deception strategies are - Slicing and using a shortened hitting action. Slicing means hitting the shuttle in a sliced angle causing it to travel in a different direction than suggested by the body movement, this will also cause the shuttle to travel much slowly. Again, further advance strategies are involved in this type of stroke deception to suit the singles and doubles game plan at a higher level. The lightness of modern racquets allows players to use a very short hitting action for many strokes, thereby maintaining the option to hit a powerful or a soft stroke until the last possible moment. For example, a singles player may hold his racquet ready for a netshot, but then flick the shuttlecock to the back instead with a shallow lift when she or he notices the opponent has moved before the actual shot was played. A shallow lift takes less time to reach the ground and as mentioned above a rally is over when the shuttlecock touches the ground.