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  1. #1
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Offensive or Defensive shots - Intention is the Key

    In modern badminton there is no clear-cut definition of whether an underhand stroke like a serve or an overhead one like a smash can be regarded as defensive or offensive.

    I subscribe to what cheongsa said in his post of Jul 1, 2006 when he emphasized "Intention is the Key!".

    I reproduce below his thoughts on the matter and welcome your views:


    "An offensive shot is one played with the intention of getting the opponent into trouble in the rally, and a defensive shot is one played with the intention of getting oneself out of trouble in the rally.

    If one is ready to accept this definition, then the corollaries are:

    1. the possibility of playing a neutral shot, when the player is not in trouble, and there is no conscious intention of getting the opponent into trouble.

    2. an offensive shot does not have to be the one that ends the rally.

    3. a defensive shot can be the one ending a rally.

    4. an underhand flick serve can be an offensive shot, if the intention is to catch the opponent off guard, and subsequently, out of position.

    5. a smash can be a defensive shot if the player is in deep trouble, the opponent is in strong command of the rally, and a smash is one of the very limited number of options available, and at considerable risk to execute, that would get the player out of trouble.

    6. a smash return can be offensive if executed with the intention of getting the smashing opponent into trouble. This is possible when the player is confident with his/her smash defence, and the opponent's smash is weak.

    7. drop shots, both fast and slow, can be offensive or defensive shots. For example, in WC 2003, Camilla Martin used slow drops with an offensive intent to pull Zhang Ning further away from the latter's base position. Another example, in OG 2000, Jin Xinpeng, when caught in the forehand baseline corner by Peter Gade Christensen, chose to execute a cross-court drop shot to dig himself out.

    8. lifts from the net can also be offensive shots. For example, in AE 2006, Xie Xinfang, seeing that Zhang Ning was slow to return to her base position after a straight drop shot from her forehand baseline corner, opted for a fast lift to Zhang Ning's backhand baseline corner, to elicit a weak reply.

    9. clears can also be offensive or defensive shots. Generally, an offensive clear is flatter and faster, so that the opponent will be late (with respect to the shot, not with respect to the pace of the game) to the shot, while a defensive clear is played very high, so that the player has time to return to base.

    Intention should be the entity defining the nature of the shot, and not the quality of the shot itself. The opponent's capability should not matter."

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    I have to disagree slightly with the final sentence. While intention is important, shot quality is more so. It doesn't matter how attacking you intended to make that flat lift. If your opponent has the capability to intercept it, and you don't lift it high enough, then it goes from an offensive shot to a defensive shot.

    What makes a shot offensive or defensive, I believe, is what you aim to achieve from that shot, factoring in your opponent. You can't just say the quality is not defining. A poorly struck smash goes from offensive to defensive, and your opponents ability to make something out of that smash must also be taken into account.

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    bah, let's dumb it down.
    a shot that wins the point is a good shot, the shot that loses it is a bad one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Loh View Post
    Intention should be the entity defining the nature of the shot, and not the quality of the shot itself. The opponent's capability should not matter."
    this is probably true in theory, but doesnt always work so well in practice.

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    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgao_net View Post
    this is probably true in theory, but doesnt always work so well in practice.
    Yes, while the intention is key, proper execution of the shot to fulfil the player's intention is important in a game.

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    I agree to this. All shots could be defensive or offensive (especially in singles) depending on the situation. However, this could be different in doubles as there are 2 players to cover the court.

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    The best defense is offense, and that explains why I love to smash so much! Also, trick shots are very deceptive and offensive too~

    Sorry but I'm a bit Gade-ed right now....Haha~

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    Remember the more offensive you play though, the faster you'll have to be to make up for the replies....you are increasing the pace not only for your opponent, but for yourself.

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    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Athelete1234 View Post
    Remember the more offensive you play though, the faster you'll have to be to make up for the replies....you are increasing the pace not only for your opponent, but for yourself.
    This relates to the two points below:

    5. a smash can be a defensive shot if the player is in deep trouble, the opponent is in strong command of the rally, and a smash is one of the very limited number of options available, and at considerable risk to execute, that would get the player out of trouble.

    6. a smash return can be offensive if executed with the intention of getting the smashing opponent into trouble. This is possible when the player is confident with his/her smash defence, and the opponent's smash is weak.

    Indeed against a player with good defense, say like LCW, the harder you smash to him the faster will his returns to you. His smash return not only neutralises your smash but puts you in serious trouble and gains a point for himself.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Loh View Post
    5. a smash can be a defensive shot if the player is in deep trouble, the opponent is in strong command of the rally, and a smash is one of the very limited number of options available, and at considerable risk to execute, that would get the player out of trouble.
    That's a pretty odd situation. Your opponent is "in strong command of the rally", and you decide to play a smash as a defensive shot?

    Surely you would play a clear instead! What is the tactical rationale for smashing in this situation?

    Your smash might be intended to win the rally, or seize the attack. This could happen if you spot a "gap" in your opponent's court coverage. But this can hardly be called a "defensive" shot.

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    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gollum View Post
    That's a pretty odd situation. Your opponent is "in strong command of the rally", and you decide to play a smash as a defensive shot?

    Surely you would play a clear instead! What is the tactical rationale for smashing in this situation?

    Your smash might be intended to win the rally, or seize the attack. This could happen if you spot a "gap" in your opponent's court coverage. But this can hardly be called a "defensive" shot.
    Yes it is assumed that player is in a "pretty odd situation" and he is using the smash to dig himself out of trouble at that moment, I presume.

    If he continues to clear, it will give more options to his opponent who is already "in strong command of the rally". A change of tactic to smash, even though it may not be a strong one, will bring the shuttle down to prevent an attack, change the pace a bit and limit his opponent's options. It may not necessarily be that a gap has been spotted but that it may give more time for recovery and subsequent action which is more important.

    Quite often, even a drop shot can take the pace off the shuttle and spoil an opponent's game plan. I suppose this smash is meant to be a last resort surprise shot to enable the player to regain his comfort zone but it is dangerous and can jolly well backfire as many will agree. I think in this sense, the intention of this smash is defensive in nature. So says "the smash is the best form of defense". Just what I think.

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    I think if you have the ability to pull off a half-decent smash while the opponent is "dictating the pace", you're not being defensive, but being counter-attacking, to attack when the opponent is not expecting it.

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    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Athelete1234 View Post
    I think if you have the ability to pull off a half-decent smash while the opponent is "dictating the pace", you're not being defensive, but being counter-attacking, to attack when the opponent is not expecting it.
    You are right if that is your intention.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Loh View Post
    It may not necessarily be that a gap has been spotted but that it may give more time for recovery and subsequent action which is more important.
    That doesn't make sense to me. I don't understand how a smash can give you more time for recovery than a clear. If you want more time for recovery, hit it high.

    I would say the best example of a tactically sound defensive "smash" is when you are under pressure in your rearcourt, and play a drive-drop shot (this is mainly a singles tactic). This is a very fast, flat drop shot -- but it's not really a smash. I suppose you might think of it as a very slow smash instead.

    (I discuss this idea in my singles tactics article: drop shots)

    I like the general idea of your (cheonsa's) theory. But I don't think it applies to every shot. Smashes are a borderline case, with some room for debate. But what about net kills? Do you really think a net kill can be played as a defensive shot?

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    An offensive shot is one played with the intention of getting the opponent into trouble in the rally, and a defensive shot is one played with the intention of getting oneself out of trouble in the rally.
    I would personally disagree, because sometimes when you're playing tournament level matches of 2 - 3 competition level games per round, sometimes you'll have to test your endurance and stamina in most tough rounds. So if you were to play more defensively to regain some energy instead of getting yourself out of trouble.
    -But sure, International Pro Tournaments demand a high level of stamina and still be offensive, but I think that the vast majority of players on this forum don't play for their country or state level and instead are club players.

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    I would agree with you on some of those points, some shots can be either offensive or defensive. It's a good perspective of how one different shot/stroke can have multiple goals and effects

    So, as you state "a defensive shot is one played with the intention of getting oneself out of trouble in the rally". Which generally means you want to buy yourself time, or take the pressure of your opponents attacking shot.

    bu then, by clinging to these black and white definitions you kind of work yourself into a corner; as soon as your shot isn't about buying time/getting out of trouble you're already attacking (by your definition). So these two fields of attacking and defending overlap quite a bit.
    I'd say a more loose third option for 'countering' might make your position more tenable.

    Like your "offensive smashreturn" is more a counter-attacking sort of stroke, same for the fast dropshot. A fast clear can either be attacking or a counter, but not defensive.

    In my opinion, all these simplifications rarely work for all cases.

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    bottom line there is no such thing as defensive or offensive shots. they're just shots. What makes them defensive or offensive is the observer. There are couple hundred audience sitting and watching the match. there could be about half of the audience is thinking of the shot is offensive but other half might think of the other way.
    The observers are the people who makes the decision that the shots are defensive or offensive.
    Different people different point of view. A high clear can consider an offensive shot to low level player who doesn't like to smash one of those high lift shot. However, a better player who able to smash those kind of smash can always think it is just a defensive shots from opponent to buy sometime for them to get back to defence.

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