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  1. #1
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    Lightbulb Tactical revelation (doubles)

    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.

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    for another reason that I don't get, one of my double partners always tell me to hit it deep to the base line ? he used to be the pennstate single champion in the early 90s (so that's he's been telling everybody). I don't know what is that one for. for setting up the next shot maybe? incase the opp hit it short we are ready for a smash...or something like that

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    about your net-tumble. you have to calculate the arc in it as well.
    below are two ways to do a net tumble. the first (blue) is sliced with an almost horizontal racketface, it is cut, goes up and drops right behidn the nettape.
    the second (red) netshot is hit a bit flatter (but can still be tumbled...) and thus lands deeper.

    Now singles playe rtend to do netshot #1 more often. because the opponent has to move further and reach deeper often forcing a bad netshot or a bad lift.
    Doubles players however do #2 because it's harder to bursh/kill or make a high quality netshot (a perfect combination between the two: low and tight) of it. it also ups the pace.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  4. #4
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    As jerby says, the singles tumble is often played with a higher trajectory to fall tighter to the net. In doubles this is usually suicidal.

    Note that singles players also can play the shuttle low to the net tape; they will do this when the opponent is likely to kill the higher, loopy tumbles.

    (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"?
    These principles are fine for beginners, but they are too simplistic to constitute good doubles tactics.

    (a) You cannot always play it downwards. You must learn to recognise when your opponents are in too strong a position for you to attack. Attempting to attack when you are in a weak position is often met with an immediate kill.

    In particular, you must learn when to play a lift instead of a netshot, and when to lift high instead of shallowly.

    Shallow attacking lifts can regain the attack for you, but used at the wrong time they will simply give the rearcourt opponent a better smash as he intercepts them from farther forwards. This shot is more useful in singles from the net.

    (b) Almost no shot is "unattackable", so this is not a realistic goal. Think about playing a shot that puts pressure on your opponents to lift. You want to make it very difficult for them to find an attacking opportunity; but again, you have to recognise when they have succeeded despite your efforts.

    (c) This one is a more effective tactic for singles. In doubles, you will often be smashing directly at your opponents, which is hardly moving them around. Typically the side that is moving most in doubles is the attacking side, with the defenders standing relatively still and expending little energy. Yet the attacking side will usually be the winners.

    (d) This one is not very helpful, even for singles. You need to recover as best you can for the next shot, but bear in mind that this will not mean returning to a particular area of the court all the time, and often you will not have time to reach the position you would like. You must stop your movement as the opponent is hitting, and get ready to change direction.

    Bases are greatly oversimplified in most teaching; in a real game the "base" is much more fluid than a box in the centre.

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    Thanks for your replies guys. Jerby, I made the point about the hairpin tumble, but not the height of the push net shot, so thanks for clearing that up...it was on my mind but I didn't mention it, thought I had!

    Gollum, thanks for your comments. What you have said was part of the point I was trying to make - these things are often taught at beginner level, but are grossly too simplistic to be applied in advanced doubles, and I was just using them as a guideline for broader analysis and appreciation of the variability of doubles tactics. In an ideal world, you would attempt to attack every shot and make every shot unattackable etc, but of course this isn't possible. Thanks for bringing it up.

    The wider analysis of these four points would hopefully allow any player to question their game and introduce some more advanced tactics.

    Aleik.

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    I recently took a very good coaching course where the coach worked mostly on the important principles involved in playing good tactical badminton, rather than specific techniques. Rather than telling the player "do this, do that," his style of coaching involved asking "why did you do this? why would you want to do that?"

    In doubles, the main principles he emphasized were:
    - moving in to the net with your racquet up, which helps to
    - take the bird high, allowing you to
    - hit the shot downwards or flat, which
    - puts pressure on the opponent , which
    - makes it difficult for your opponent to attack


    As for shot selection, it was based on watching:
    - racquet head position, and grip
    - foot position
    Using this, you figure out where there might be holes in coverage - perhaps the spot where a change in grip occurs, or where the feet need to reposition before pushing off. So, assuming basic technical ability is there, there are two important things to train:
    - reducing the holes which are awkward to cover
    - automatically exploiting the holes that your opponents open when they play against you.

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    many times in singles or doubles, the shuttle is placed past the net into the forecourt to prevent the opponent from attacking the shuttle. Today's players are getting faster so the hairpin shot can be subject to a simple tap down by the opponent! Another disadvantage of the hairpin shot is if you play a fairly tight netshot, it's easier for the opponent to play another tight netshot.

    That's why you don't see many slow drop shots in singles or doubles top level play.

    For point b), that's true. But some shuttle are more attackable than others. The key is to give the opponent a 'neutral' shot wher you don't give much disadvantage away. It's important to realise in this situation, you may not be able to regain attack, be patient, and wait for a later opportunity to regain the attack. This way, you'll be less anxious during the game and less prone to trying to make low percentage shots work.
    Last edited by Cheung; 09-09-2006 at 09:55 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cheung
    many times in singles or doubles, the shuttle is placed past the net into the forecourt to prevent the opponent from attacking the shuttle. Today's players are getting faster so the hairpin shot can be subject to a simple tap down by the opponent! Another disadvantage of the hairpin shot is if you play a fairly tight netshot, it's easier for the opponent to play another tight netshot.

    That's why you don't see many slow drop shots in singles or doubles top level play.

    For point b), that's true. But some shuttle are more attackable than others. The key is to give the opponent a 'neutral' shot wher you don't give much disadvantage away. It's important to realise in this situation, you may not be able to regain attack, be patient, and wait for a later opportunity to regain the attack. This way, you'll be less anxious during the game and less prone to trying to make low percentage shots work.
    -------

    May i know how to deal with those slow drop shots .... ? i always have trouble taking slow drop shots. Usually taking at very late and using much effort to recover. I play mainly doubles, & in singles, many times that i did not even move from the center base to anticipate the slow drop shots.
    Any advised ?

    shallow lift
    One of my fav shots is the attacking shallow lift to either sides, i wanted my opponent to drive it flat back to me & I hit as hard as i can generate back to his partner. Usually successful though....

    -------

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by B-KJoe
    -------

    May i know how to deal with those slow drop shots .... ? i always have trouble taking slow drop shots. Usually taking at very late and using much effort to recover. I play mainly doubles, & in singles, many times that i did not even move from the center base to anticipate the slow drop shots.
    Any advised ?

    shallow lift
    One of my fav shots is the attacking shallow lift to either sides, i wanted my opponent to drive it flat back to me & I hit as hard as i can generate back to his partner. Usually successful though....

    -------
    If you're not getting to it in time:

    (a) you might be standing too far back.
    I'm guessing by what you've said that your drive and smash defence is pretty reliable, so there's no reason not to push forward on the defence if you're standing a little far back. Compare your position with others who can deal with that shot. Remember that you and your partner should be the same distance away from the attacker when playing "sides", not the same distance from the net.

    (b) you're not very fast on your feet.
    There's no recipe for this other than hard work.

    (c) your base position isn't very "energetic".
    I had this very same problem of not even moving from base for the drop shot in singles; someone helped me make a slight technical adjustment and I was off. If it's the drop to your backhand side, you might want to lead with your non-racket foot at base. Bend your knees at base and use the "hop" to shift your feet a little to the desired position. This also makes your body more ready to move. Compare your base stance with other players who can deal with the shot.
    If you have little energy coming out of the shot, you probably aren't maintaining an upright gait on approach. You probably find you're looking at the floor after you've hit the shot. Keep your upper body and head facing the net by making your knee bend more on the lunge, and flexing it will move you back towards base nicely.

    (d) your racket is low in the first place.
    This isn't just a mentality thing. We humans aren't perfectly coordinated, and moving the racket up has a detrimental effect your means of getting there. Either footwork or racket position will probably be too slow in coming by the time your need to make the shot. Cut this out by going straight from your "racket ready" position (about waist height and in front of you) to the attacking position. You won't really be thinking about it soon, and you can concentrate on your footwork.

    For now, if none of the above applies, then your opponents are too good and you're in trouble tactically. Once it has passed below net height the safest option is the lift, as long as it's deep. You won't be able to play an effective attacking lift from a tight drop you haven't reached in time. Play the deep lift and wait for another chance. As Gollum says, you need to know when to concede the attack in a safe way when trying to maintain or create an attack just isn't safe.
    Last edited by Aleik; 09-10-2006 at 07:13 AM.

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