Something occurred to me today, which I just had to share. I'm a fairly good player in terms of technique, but there is a cavernous gap in my level of consistency, especially in level and mixed doubles. Does this sound like you? Keep reading. In doubles have you ever been told to: (a) "hit it downwards", (b) "play unattackable shots", (c) "move your opponents about, and keep them under pressure", (d) "always, always return to your base"? I answer yes to all three, but this isn't particularly great advice in my opinion. Where am I supposed to hit down to, and how? What constitutes an "unattackable" shot? How exactly do I move my opponents about and keep them under pressure? Why should I return to base, and where is it? These questions are borne from downright failure and inconsistency. Then, it occurred to me. There's a reason for this inconsistency; there are stroke-moves in badminton that are just made for doubles, and I'm not using them. I play singles shots - those plain, almost moronically-easy-to-describe (but, I stress, not necessarily easy to play) shots that we were all sort of shown at an early age as basic skills but simply don't cut it in doubles. Let's take the net tumble. In singles, this is most likely to be played very tight to the net, and can rise upto half a foot above net height once played before dropping down. This ensures that the shuttle consistently goes over the net, but doesn't forfeit tightness to the net. Once the opponent gets there, the shuttle is on its way down. It has effectively been hit downwards, is unattackable, has moved the opponent a long way and pressurised him/her, and has allowed time for you to return to base. Perfect, right? Why not play that shot every time in every situation? Answer: because every situation is different. The height of the shuttle I described is affordable in singles but not in doubles, as the singles opponent's base for your net tumble is further back than for a doubles player. I've been playing this shot far too often in doubles, and either (a) it has been exploited by the aggressive net player, or (b) I have succumbed to the pressure in playing the shot, and the shuttle didn't go over the net. The correct doubles variation of this shot is quite a longer story... How am I going to hit it downwards? By getting on the net quickly and playing at or above net height. This is possible in doubles, because the player nearest the net is indeed very near the net. What constitutes an "unattackable" shot? The singles net tumble would, but this relies too heavily on a perfect touch. To play the shot as more of a push just past the net player is often the correct shot in this case. There is a larger area to aim at than for the singles net shot, so consistency is improved. Note that the singles tumble played in doubles is very attackable. How do I move my opponents about and keep them under pressure? The shot described above takes care of this. Playing it just beyond the net player will put him/her under pressure and force a weak lift, or force the rearcourt player to come forward and lift. This is slightly risky if the net opponent anticipates well, so playing it slightly further past him will eliminate him, but move the rearcourt player less. There are advantages to each, but the biggest advantage is varying between the two, which is very possible and advisable. Note that the singles tumble played in doubles does not really move the opponent about or pressure them, unless they are extremely slow at the net, which a doubles player should inherently not be. Why should I return to base, and where is it? To be ready for a weak lift or an anticipated attack. Note that the singles tumble played in doubles has a dire consequence in terms of bases. If it isn't attacked above net height, your net base should be very advanced towards the net, whereas if it is, the net player will be redundant or will need to move back very quickly to defend the drive/kill. In the doubles push, this isn't really a problem. Your base is unchanged. So there you have it. This logic can be applied to every shot you play. The key benefits to working out which are doubles-specific shots and playing them are: (a) improved consistency, (b) the option of longer rallies with safer shots while keeping pressure on the opponent, (c) more variation, which taps into a reservoir of strategic opportunities, (d) simpler rules regarding base, (e) more satisfaction with your game! If you ask yourself these four questions from time to time, you should be able to logically adjust your play relevant to the doubles game. Rather than looking for a recipe-style guide to each situation, these are the thinking skills you can use to become your own tactical coach, appreciate the differences between singles and doubles, and improve your doubles game.