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    Default Footwork vs Accurate Shots (Closer to net)

    Which do you guys think is more important in badminton?

    I'm deciding which I should improve on first to improve my overall game. I consider myself relatively fit when it comes to physique, but it feels like I get to the bird slow sometimes. If I push myself 100% and get to the bird early all the time, it gets extremely tiring really fast. Shot wise, my shots aren't quite as close to the net as I would like (it's usually 1+ feet above the top of the net for nets and drops). If my shots were to improve so that they're tighter to the net, will that benefit me more? or improving on my footwork so that I can get to the bird faster while retaining more stamina?

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    nothing wrong with working on both simultaneously...

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    Better to solve a puzzle one piece at a time instead of the whole thing at once

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    It's probably more efficient to work on several areas concurrently, rather than spending weeks or months trying to perfect one thing.

    1 foot+ above the net isn't too bad for drop shots (although it could be improved). I would say it's more problematic for net shots, which are more liable to be killed.

    I wonder how much of your shot inaccuracy is due to footwork problems anyway? If you arrive at the shuttle late and off-balance, it's difficult to play an accurate shot. Have you tried playing these shots in practice, when you are not under any pressure to move? How do they compare with your shots during a game?

    If you have to pick one thing, I would work on net shots first, because this will take the least time. You should easily learn to play a basic net shot that is a matter of inches, not feet, above the net. Try to relax and use "soft hands" to push the shuttle gently over the net.

    After that, maybe focus on footwork. You want to develop efficient movement around the court, rather than running back and forth. You could start by learning a good lunge.

    Drop shots are also important, but maybe leave these until last -- especially if you have a decent smash. Remember that the most important technique for improving your drop shots is your smash technique.

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    I will give you some advice based on my experiences.

    I think your focus should be on getting to the shuttle and taking it early, playing an accurate shot. See below for more details

    Approach to shot making:
    By accurate shot, I mean more the direction of the shot (i.e. keeping the shuttle a foot inside the lines at all times). When I am practising, unless I am practising net shots, I will always aim a foot above the net IF I AM STRUGGLING IN ANY WAY.

    My approach to shot making is to just hit the shuttle naturally at first (best not to over think it). If this is good, working as I want it to (i.e. all passing close to the net, good angles, good technique etc), then I will not think about how to hit the shot, but focus on the feeling of it, make sure the preparation is early, adding deception if possible etc. If I am not hitting good shots "naturally" i.e. they are not steep enough, or the are going into the net, or out, or I am just really tired and misjudging a lot, I will aim a foot above the net. Good shots do not need to skim the tape.

    The above is advice given to me by a former commonwealth double gold medalist, former england number 1 etc. If you are playing great, then just keep going. If not, aim a foot above the net for all shots (drops, smashes, drives) except net shots (which need to be better). This ensures you do not make mistakes, which is the perhaps most important thing if you are not playing your best. This is especially useful to remember when you are tired, or under a lot of pressure within a rally: aim a foot above the net! Remember: not all of your shots can be great everyday!

    Focussing on Footwork:
    My main goal when practising is the quality of my shot - ensuring I do not miss. This is because my footwork technique (lunge technique, recovery, patterns used etc) is good. Thus, my goal with footwork is to keep going as fast as I can. This does not mean jump smash EVERYTHING. This means get into a good position to hit every shot - not necessarily jumping as high as you can to intercept everything. Focus on high quality movements, balance, posture, recovery speed, speed off the mark etc.

    Please note: my footwork technique is good. My footwork overall has many strengths and weaknesses.

    If you have good footwork technique (lunge technique, footwork patterns, use of split step), then you should not worry about it any more. Focus as I stated above: get there as early as possible, good intensity, hitting accurate shots.

    If you do not feel balanced when moving, if you do not know which steps to take, do not use a split step, do not recover well from certain corners etc, then make sure you pay attention to this. The best way to fix these issues is shadowing (for a few minutes under the watchful eye of a qualified coach), followed by hitting shots (without too much focus on accuracy, but just trying to put the hitting together with the shots). Paying attention to footwork should not mean hitting bad shots - just make sure they are close to where you want to place them (the direction is more important than the power/angle).

    When you have the footwork technique in your mind (not mastered) and you are confident you can lunge correctly, use the correct steps etc. if you had time to think about it then you can start to focus on your shots as mentioned above. If your footwork starts breaking down to rubbish, then do some shadowing, hit some shots, then continue with the session.

    More advanced:
    Once you have good control of all your shots, and are confident that they are accurate, crisp, and high quality, the focus then should turn to intensity. Moving faster, hitting earlier (not harder). Adding sudden injections of pace into your movements alongside your accurate shots. Obviously this kind of activity is useful even when you are still learning to play your shots and master your footwork, but it becomes much more important once you can ensure that the quality of your movements and shot making is good.

    Hopefully some of the advice I have given above is useful Good luck, and please ask any questions you may have.

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    I will also add that the overhead shots I practice most are half smashes/fast drops. With the occassional full smash, slow drop, stop drop, slice, punch clear, high clear etc. When I can hit a good consistent half smash, I can easily slow it down, speed it up, change the angle etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MSeeley View Post
    When I can hit a good consistent half smash, I can easily slow it down, speed it up, change the angle etc.
    This is also good for people learning the technique, because a good half smash / clip smash somewhat "forces" you to learn good technique for the full smash too.

    Nowadays I often start beginners on clip smashes before any other rearcourt shot -- certainly before the power smash. Depends on the player, of course; but I think sometimes we get our shot priorities a little backwards in coaching, because we have artificially categorised certain shots (e.g. clip smash) as "advanced".

    (Writing that, I glance at my clock and it reads 13:37. Cute.)
    Last edited by Gollum; 05-09-2013 at 08:39 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gollum View Post
    This is also good for people learning the technique, because a good half smash / clip smash somewhat "forces" you to learn good technique for the full smash too.

    Nowadays I often start beginners on clip smashes before any other rearcourt shot -- certainly before the power smash. Depends on the player, of course; but I think sometimes we get our shot priorities a little backwards in coaching, because we have artificially categorised certain shots (e.g. clip smash) as "advanced".
    Couldn't agree more. The coach I work with (who is absolutely amazing as far as I am concerned) teaches only the "action" for hitting the shots, and then expects the student to do the action faster or slower depending on the shot. They teach the fast drop shot first (effectively the clip smash) with a big emphasis on "tapping" the shuttle downwards (with excellent world class demonstration ). They don't actually teach a "slow" drop shot at all (as most "regular players" try to play) until the player is reasonably advanced and can hit it as a stop drop (with plenty of deception). But they do encourage players to hit the shot slower (not slow) sometimes (when in trouble and needing to buy some time to recover) and faster other times (to hit a winner). They also encourage general experimentation (obviously), but the drills are all focused on these drops.

    Her juniors are all top ranked in this country (grade "A"?). I think this approach is spot on.

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    ^ Re half smash / fast drop: I love this shot as it not only challenges my opponents footwork, but also forces them to use their wrist / forearm more to add energy to return the shot. Tires both their legs and arms in one shot.

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    If your gonna only work on one at a time please do FOOTWORK first. Footwork is required for everything. Your drops will become more effective with footwork because you will get to the shuttle quicker and have much more time to perform your shot, which will increase the shots accuracy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MSeeley View Post
    Her juniors are all top ranked in this country (grade "A"?). I think this approach is spot on.
    off topic, but I don't think juniors have separate grading to seniors. If they are grade A then that basically means they are national team level - an amazing achievement for any junior if this is true

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    Quote Originally Posted by amleto View Post
    off topic, but I don't think juniors have separate grading to seniors. If they are grade A then that basically means they are national team level - an amazing achievement for any junior if this is true
    Must be my mistake. I don't know how it all works (it changed recently as far as I am aware). They are top ranked for their age categories e.g. under 11s, under 13s etc... (i thought this was called grade "A" at that age level, but I could be completely wrong)

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    Quote Originally Posted by MSeeley View Post
    Must be my mistake. I don't know how it all works (it changed recently as far as I am aware). They are top ranked for their age categories e.g. under 11s, under 13s etc... (i thought this was called grade "A" at that age level, but I could be completely wrong)
    Yep, rank A is the highest rank for any player of any age, from A to I. Although, it was a while since I last played so I might be entirely wrong; but from what I remember A is the highest category.

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    Default Footwork 0

    As a men's doubles player I have a naturally aggressive style of play. This year I have begun medium distance running such as 10-15km runs.
    As a result I have gained a good amount of strength in my legs and have become more dynamic around the back of the court.
    This had led to me getting to the shuttle much earlier, which I am sure any coach will emphasise as an important element of improvement for any player.
    I myself found a large increase in my offensive ability by getting to the shuttle earlier, and so I personally would recommend footwork.
    However, it is important to recognise that smashing too flat gets you not so far once the people on the other side of the net become aware that you can't get a nice angle on your shots.

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