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    Default grip /forearm pronation

    Hi there ,
    My first post- well this is my second attempt at my first post so if you see a similar version appear my appologies!

    I used to play at school, occasionally on the school team. Stopped as I was frustrated at not having a decent backhand. 18 years laterI started again playing 1-2 times a week for the last 4 years. I still have the same basic problems very week backhand- no chance of an overhead clear. I have got away with this by countering with some rather good drop shots, round the head forehands and by being left handed. My smash isn't much good either, it is poorly timed ( alot of miss hits) and not at all accurate- I am for the middle of the court if I'm honest. Again I find myself at the point of taking another long walk away from the game.

    If it wasn't for the fact that I did the same when I was at school I would try to blame my faults on my job- I am a Blacksmith and typically spend 4-5 hours a day hammering. This difference in weight between a hammer and a racket definately affects my timing I don't even try to smash in the first game I play. Also I am aware after reading Gollums guide on grips how wrong my grips have been- backhand not that bad and easily altered, but forehand for smashing seems insurmountable ( I tend towards , but not totally, panhandling) , I can't swing the racket over my head and keep the face in the right plane- is this common or has 10 years of forgework reduced my shoulder mobility, from a work point of view I can't afford to damage my shoulder. Are there any mobility/ stretching exercises I can do?
    Also I always thought I had built up strong wrist muscles yet my wrist feels like jelly when I do a backhand- are there any specific exercises to help with this?
    a couple of years ago I was advised to string up a shuttle to practice high backhands but this seemed to destroy my timing tio the extent that I wasn't even making contact with a moving shuttle- I haven't tried one since always resorting to drop shots. I know play at a level where a weak clear would be killed so without sorting this out I have nowhere left to go. So, are there any exercises that I can do offcourt to improve my backhand?

    Unfortunately time and money constraints mean that repeated trips to oesteopaths / coaches are not really viable.

    Great site, I have learnt a lot already- just a shame all the grip pictures need pasting into photoshop and reversing.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by forgeron; 12-13-2008 at 10:17 AM. Reason: Double Post - sorry!! still on rewritting it is slightly different

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    Hi, I think your problem is pretty common, actually. Also, it shouldn't be too hard to fix. Firstly, panhandle is acceptable for a smash or kill in my opinion. The main problem is timing. I would imagine, and please note this is without ever seeing you play so I may be wrong, that you just take a wild swing at it and try and get rid of the shuttle as quick as possible. What you should do is RELAX! You have much more time than you think so just take time to watch the shuttle. It will eventually come just to the correct hitting position. Then, you take a swing and strike the shuttle. However, just to improve your timing before hitting hard, just tap the shuttle. Use a smashing action but hit a slow shot. This will help you learn how to time the shot and once you get more confident, you'll be able to pick up the pace and hit a bullet smash. Also, just playing badminton should help increase shoulder mobility.

    On to the backhand problem. Again, I haven't seen you play, but I can hazard a guess as to what you're doing. For backhands, I hit a very wristy shot. This gives enough power and eliminates the main weakness of backhands, the difficulty of getting arm movement/speed. Make sure you have a really good backhand grip and then practise the flicking action. Eventually, you'll get really good wrist movement and be able to hit the shuttle well. Also, look at your footwork. Footwork is very important when trying to make a backhand shot. Make sure yours is correct. However, the best solution to a weak backhand is to not play one. Use a round the head shot where possible and develop a good hitting action for when it's not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by forgeron View Post
    I started again playing 1-2 times a week for the last 4 years. I still have the same basic problems very week backhand- no chance of an overhead clear. I have got away with this by countering with some rather good drop shots, round the head forehands and by being left handed.
    First remember that, although it's nice to have a strong backhand, it's not actually a terribly important shot. You're much better playing a round-the-head forehand when possible. Look at Lin Dan, the world number one in men's singles: he hardly ever plays a backhand clear!

    So I really don't think you should be so hard on yourself. You've done exactly the right thing by focusing on your round-the-head forehand skills, and learning a good backhand drop to get you out of trouble. The backhand clear is a difficult shot, and offers you a comparatively small reward in return for the investment of training.

    Yet there are situations, especially in singles, when a strong backhand is very useful. There are plenty of threads here on BC devoted to this skill (as players tend to obsess about their backhand...), so why not try a search?

    Here's a few pointers for the backhand:

    • Don't use a thumb grip. Try a bevel grip instead.
    • Prepare with your elbow low, then swing it upwards ahead of your hand.
    • Uncoil from the elbow, and hit the shuttle from somewhat out to the side of your body (not directly above your head).
    • Make good use of grip tightening. Keep your swing relaxed, and finish with a sudden tightening of the hand.
    • The follow-through movement is much more restricted than for the forehand.
    • For a full-court clear, you'll need some turning of the arm to get enough power.



    I am a Blacksmith and typically spend 4-5 hours a day hammering. This difference in weight between a hammer and a racket definately affects my timing I don't even try to smash in the first game I play.
    As a blacksmith, you have probably developed some very strong internally-rotating muscles, such as pecs and triceps. This means it's quite likely you have a muscle imbalance, with your externally-rotating muscles much weaker than the others. These muscles are located around your upper back and the back of your shoulder.

    These muscles are important for stabilising your shoulder. It may be worth your training for external rotation (lateral rotation with a resistance band/cable, reverse flys, rear deltoid exercises...). This may help protect you from shoulder injuries and, by increasing your shoulder stability, give you better control (and hence power) in your smashes.

    Also I am aware after reading Gollums guide on grips how wrong my grips have been- backhand not that bad and easily altered, but forehand for smashing seems insurmountable ( I tend towards , but not totally, panhandling) , I can't swing the racket over my head and keep the face in the right plane- is this common or has 10 years of forgework reduced my shoulder mobility, from a work point of view I can't afford to damage my shoulder. Are there any mobility/ stretching exercises I can do?
    It's possible that your work has reduced your range of motion. You might want to get this checked by a doctor. Strengthening the opposite side, as I described above, should help to rectify that.

    However, you should not have the racket facing forwards during the whole swing (and this would be extremely uncomfortable, if not downright impossible!). As your hand passes over your shoulder, the racket should be roughly sideways-on. As you complete the swing, your arm should rotate inwards so that the racket is facing forwards and hits the shuttle straight. This is essential for generating good power.

    I know play at a level where a weak clear would be killed so without sorting this out I have nowhere left to go.
    As I explained above, it's very unlikely that a weak backhand really is the limiting factor of your game. You might perceive it as such, but there are almost certainly many other skills that you could improve, which would have a much greater influence on how many rallies you win.

    So, are there any exercises that I can do offcourt to improve my backhand?
    Attach a resistance band to something at approximately waist height (say, a door handle, although a more secure hold is better). Then perform an overhead backhand action with this resisting you. You can vary the exercise by kneeling on the ground (the angle of resistance has been changed), doing it faster, or adjusting the band length and focusing on particular sections of the swing (such as the last part).

    Great site, I have learnt a lot already- just a shame all the grip pictures need pasting into photoshop and reversing.
    Note that the pictures on my grips guide are automatically reversed when you select "Left-handed" from the options menu on the right of the page. Try it.
    Last edited by Gollum; 12-13-2008 at 02:47 PM.

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    Thanks for the replies guys,

    Dan-if it is true that panhandling is acceptable for a smash I am can slow it down to concentrate on accuracy and timing - I was under the impression that it wasn't.

    Gollum- firstly I wish I had seen the lefthanded thing I spent ages doing right handed grips and translating it into left handed-DOH!
    As to my backhand being the limiting factor- it certainly seems like it to me, after a period of grace ( being left handed) people cotton on to it and I will get hammered on my backhand when my partner is serving. As I say I can drop well to both sides of the net. But if the other team realized that every high backhand that I can't reach round will be a drop and both run in that would be it, its never happened yet but I have no idea what I would do in this situation. Perhaps I should have said that I only play doubles. After a while my partners have a tendancy to serve from further back so they can step back to protect my backhand.

    Still, at least I can do the bevel grip and the swing feels much stronger and more wristy than the grip have been using. I'll have another go a practicing - would resistance bands be used inconjunction with a strung up shuttle or are the shots just imaginary?

    I had another go at going slowly through a forehand smash and although I can just get the head square on at the point of impact this just at my limit of twist in my forearm and shoulder I don't think it would be good speeded up - but if the grip is important I will try it, tentitively. There is a guy I play with who is into weights and should be able to explain the exercises you listed.

    Thanks for the replies- it gives me hope to move forward- I expend so much energy protecting my backhand that the rest of my game has felt stale recently.

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    And never forget good footwork!! Gollum's guide makes footwork more fluid and efficient; once you know the correct method, even without any extra work increasing fitness, you be much faster.

    Myself speaking, I'm hardly a great doubles player because my smash isn't devastating, my drops aren't the best, and my reflexes need work, but I have good footwork and this allows me to play with people who are much better at strokework than me.

    Not to mention, with good footwork, I hardly need to use a backhand unless I'm being really lazy.

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    If youre under pressure from the serve:

    Improve his serve.

    Improve your footwork to play lifts to your backhand overhead

    hold racket in a backhand grip so you can be ready to drive any pushes to that side (<- thats only a quick fix, because once they notice that, they will push on the forehand which will cause you trouble then, so just use that for a few sessions until you sort out your drive )

    sort out a backhand drive, or lift if your in trouble. Start stroke with palm facing ground, end with palm facing roof. hey presto, instant power

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    Quote Originally Posted by forgeron View Post
    Dan-if it is true that panhandling is acceptable for a smash I am can slow it down to concentrate on accuracy and timing - I was under the impression that it wasn't.
    I'm not sure what Dan intended by saying that pandhandling is "acceptable" for a smash.

    Certainly you can smash with a panhandle grip if you want to. But your smashes would be much more powerful if you learned better technique instead.

    In coaching, using the panhandle grip for smashes is considered a common, basic technical error.

    Gollum- firstly I wish I had seen the lefthanded thing I spent ages doing right handed grips and translating it into left handed-DOH!
    Well, I can imagine that it would be easy to miss. I should probably think about ways to make it more obvious.

    As to my backhand being the limiting factor- it certainly seems like it to me, after a period of grace ( being left handed) people cotton on to it and I will get hammered on my backhand when my partner is serving.
    Ah, this information changes things.

    If they are lifting to your backhand, then you should be able, from your middle-of-the-court position, to reach the shuttle in time for a round-the-head forehand. If their service return is lower -- more like a drive than a high lift -- then you can intercept it before it reaches the back of the court.

    In this case, although you are playing a backhand, it's not from the back of the court. You are therefore under much less pressure, and playing a clear is easier. Drives and drops should also be effective, as your opponents have less time to react. This is especially the case for drops, when you have the skill to hit either straight or cross.

    As I say I can drop well to both sides of the net. But if the other team realized that every high backhand that I can't reach round will be a drop and both run in that would be it, its never happened yet but I have no idea what I would do in this situation.
    If it's never happened yet, I would defer worrying about it. It would be more useful to worry about circumstances that actually occur in your games -- circumstances when you get into real difficulty, rather than hypothetical difficulty.

    If you were playing against much stronger opponents, then they might exploit this weakness. If you were playing against pros, then they certainly would exploit this weakness. But then you're guaranteed to lose anyway, so it doesn't really matter.

    Focus on the weaknesses that cause you problems at your current standard. When you become a better player, and start playing against better opposition, new weaknesses will be exposed.

    Perhaps I should have said that I only play doubles. After a while my partners have a tendancy to serve from further back so they can step back to protect my backhand.
    This suggests very strongly that you're struggling not only with high backhands in the rearcourt, but also with mid-height backhands in the midcourt.

    These backhands are bread-and-butter shots that you will need to use frequently in doubles play. It makes sense to work on them.

    Still, at least I can do the bevel grip and the swing feels much stronger and more wristy than the grip have been using. I'll have another go a practicing - would resistance bands be used inconjunction with a strung up shuttle or are the shots just imaginary?
    No shuttle, no racket. Just grab the end of the band in your hand -- as though holding the racket handle -- and do the action that way. This is not really a technique exercise: it's mainly a physical training exercise

    I had another go at going slowly through a forehand smash and although I can just get the head square on at the point of impact this just at my limit of twist in my forearm and shoulder
    Hmm, that doesn't sound right. At the limit of motion, you should be able not only to get the racket square-on, but to make it rotate a further 90 degrees (so that your palm is now facing out towards the sidelines). This actually occurs during the follow-through motion for a violent smash.

    Either you've misunderstood the action, or you have a substantial mobility limitation in your arm. Or there's something else that I've missed.
    Last edited by Gollum; 12-13-2008 at 06:15 PM.

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    Backhand is important in the singles game because of the wide open spaces a player has to cover. Around-the-head shots are good against slow or short of a length incoming shots, but it requires more energy and effort. One of the singles strategy, and now increasingly also used in top doubles play, is that when forced to lift or clear a player should lift or hit it high, deep towards the opponent's backhand. If the opponent has a weak backhand he is forced to use around-the-head, which requires more effort and if your lift or clear is of very good length he may be vulnerable from slow recovery. Also there are many shots to your backhand that are of insufficient height to warrant the use of around-the-head reply. There are also very fast high shots to the backhand that are too fast for a player to sping back to do a round-the-head shot. For top players running towards the backhand corner from near the net to do a backhand clear with the flick of the wrist is not a problem. It just isn't possible with the around-the-head because going backwards with your back towards the backline is slower.
    There is a top notch badminton academy in Malaysia which also provides enhancement training programs for the advanced players. In one of its 5 weekly modules, it has one module lasting a week specifically devoted to the advanced singles backhand. As the academy is of the highest standard internationally, its inclusion of the one-week singles backhand module for the advanced singles player reflects its importance in the modern singles game.

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    Gollum: "The follow-through movement is much more restricted than for the forehand."

    "much more"???

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    Yep. Try pronating, with your arm straight. Pronating, your palm should face behind you, however, supinating your palm will only be able to face up. In context, you will be able to follow through with a forehand so that the racquet is pointed down, and the face is pointing sideways, and with a backhand, the face will be pointed down, and the racquet pointed backwards.

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    Well Pronation/Supination goes together right, it is just a matter of the direction! The "Follow-through distance" is a matter of contact point! So if you do a forehand stroke in front of your body, compared to a backhand from outside the body or behind the body, it might be the same distance for follow-through. (NB: I have acknowledge that Gollum wrote movement, not distance).

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    A strong supinating action should allow you to finish a backhand with your racket pointing out to the side, similar to the forehand.

    The follow-through is restricted in that the arm locks at the shoulder and cannot continue to move down and across the body (without dislocating your shoulder). You finish a backhand with your arm still high in the air, but with a forehand you can allow the swing to continue so that your racket head ends at about knee height.

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    1)First to correct myself, the contact point is I believe normally linked to the racket swing and not the body, or maybee there is two kind of contact points!??

    2) Ah, the movement of the arm sorry I misunderstod that.

    3) Still it makes sense to talked about a restricted Supination. As Gollum wrote a couple of times, the racket head should be pointing out to the side.
    If you just let the racket head pointing towards the net, full Supination is restricted, as you can in the first picture compared to the second one.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    I'm not sure that I get this concept of restricted supination. Anyhow, don't forget that contact with the shuttle occurs when the wrist is neutral, since that is its strongest position. In the case of the backhand, the sequence of movements & muscle actions would be:

    1. eccentric pronation (backswing)
    2. concentric supination (accelerate forward)
    3. eccentric pronation (impact at contact) depends on impact force
    4. eccentric supination (slowing down the racquet during follow-through)

    I think that the distinction between eccentric and concentric is important, as it affects which muscles are firing, where the racquet is accelerating, the force of the movement, the stretch reflex, range of motion, etc.

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    Finally got to play last night!
    Turns out that the basic grip is fine for me with regards to pronation and smashing, faser, crisper sound and better aim. ( practising a smash balanced on the stairs obviously gave me a false impression)
    level backhands were also improved.

    however this grip felt supremely unnatural and the temptaion to change back to my normal grip was great. If I did I never managed to return to the proper basic grip in a rally (so very early on I stuck solely to this or the bevel grip) - I guess this will come with practise, and will help when I get my better racquet restrung. My spare has a disintergrating grip that makes feeling the bevels very difficult; I kept having to check visually.

    So smashes were better, level backhands were better. Return of smashes on forehand and backhand were better, although curiously it seemed like I had lost a couple of inches of reach on my forehand? Drops and level forehands were neutral. Netshots when returning serve were appalling, as were a high proportion of (short) serve returns. Is it possible to return a short serve accurately with the basic grip? itfelt like my wrist would snap at times last night or is a quick change of grip the norm? As to high backhands- I completely missed most of these and any I did connect with still felt like jelly. So more work needed there!
    was still getting caught out on drive serves to my backhand- when I try to drive back all I can do is return at moderate speed moderate height towards the server, easy kill for them, resorted to very tight drops as always, but it would be nice to be able to do something different.
    Gollum - as you said I have difficulty with high backhands wherever they are on the court not just at the back.
    Thanks for all the advice- as to the intricacies of the anatomical vocabulary of the backhand, I just let that wash over me

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    When receiving a serve there is a slight difference that's needed. When on the right side I use the backhand grip. I do this so that if they serve short i can lunge forwards and do a backhand drive FLAT and DOWN to rear corners or mid court. Or if its really low and my reactions are rubbish then Ill use this backhand grip to play a netshot. If the server plays a flick serve I can still use this backhand grip to smash, but changing grips when lifting the racket would be a better idea if your quick at grip changing. There should be a very small movement of the grip from backhand to bevel/basic.

    If they play to your backahnd on the serve, just be mentally prepared to move in that direction and play an around the head smash! When waiting for the serve stand close to the service line and central facing your opponent. I personally keep my weight 80% front leg and 20% rear. This enables me to Jump back for the flick, or to release the weight and lunge forwward for the drive or netshot.

    If your on the other side, then using the basic grip again is probably not the best idea. I lean more towards pan handle grip so i can drive again to either rear corners or mid court, sometimes if im feeling nasty ill aim towards the servers racket shoulder depending on height of serve.

    Your main skill is not to guess the serve but to be ready and react as soon as possible. For this dont watch the racket, watch the shuttle.

    Hope this helps with return of service.

    In regards to backhand as a whole. Again Ive been coached to never put myself in the situation where I need to use my (weak) backhand.

    Footwork is the only thing in badminton that will be responsible for your winning or losing of a game. You SHOULD be able to take the majority of backhand with your forehand if your footwork is upto par. If you are pushed into using your backhand, then there is nothing wrong with a backhand drop, so dont worry so much about having a weak clear.
    Last edited by blundey; 12-18-2008 at 03:38 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by forgeron View Post
    Netshots when returning serve were appalling, as were a high proportion of (short) serve returns. Is it possible to return a short serve accurately with the basic grip? it felt like my wrist would snap at times last night or is a quick change of grip the norm?
    Your observations hit near the mark. A quick change of grip is indeed the norm, and that's why a basic or bevel grip is good when you're waiting for the serve.

    For many serve returns, you need to use a panhandle (for forehands) or thumb grip (for backhands). Since you don't know in advance which side the shuttle will come, you need to be flexible about your grip.

    Having said that, the basic/bevel grip is the right grip for some serve returns (such as a net shot to the tramlines).

    As Blundey explained, an alternative is to shift your grip towards covering the straight low serve (as a left-hander, that's towards panhandle in your right service court and towards thumb grip in your left service court).

    The downside is mainly that the wide or semi-wide low serves become more difficult to return.

    More detail on my page about which grip for returning serve.

    was still getting caught out on drive serves to my backhand- when I try to drive back all I can do is return at moderate speed moderate height towards the server, easy kill for them, resorted to very tight drops as always, but it would be nice to be able to do something different.
    And what usually happens after these tight drops? Does the server lift the shuttle?

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