Playing MS against MD players

Discussion in 'Techniques / Training' started by DarkHiatus, May 30, 2019.

  1. DarkHiatus

    DarkHiatus Regular Member

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    For us more Men's Singles inclined folk, it's normal to end up playing MS games against players more familiar with MD, and play in such a style.

    MD players playing MS tend to be characterised by their preference for:
    • mostly playing downwards strokes if given lifts/clears e.g. drops/smashes/drives
    • playing punch clears/flat lifts and favouring a faster game
    • moving forward aggressively after playing from the rearcourt (normally front MD players)
    • hanging back after playing from the rearcourt (normally rear MD players)
    • biasing themselves more strongly to a side in defence
    The playstyle leads to a very aggressive MS style which can work if the player has a strong smash and has lots of stamina.

    What are your thoughts on how to more effectively counter such players? I seem to meet them more often in early rounds of MS tournaments, and being able to conserve energy seems like an achievable aim. I sometimes see very experienced (not necessarily physically stronger or even technically stronger) MS players win against MD-leaning MS players by changing the game to what i can only describe as a more MS style match - the exact mechanics, I don't understand.

    Some ideas I would have thought:
    • blocking smashes/drops tighter (more looped) to the net
    • playing lifts/clears higher/deeper so they need to move the full distance to the shuttle, and for recovery
    • playing more crosscourt strokes from the rearcourt, as they are more likely to be used to covering the straight in MD doubles defence
    The difficulty I see in these suggestions is that if the MD style player really pushes for downwards strokes all the time, then the game will be very 'defensive' and ultimately the idea would be to wait for the opponent to make a mistake (by attacking too hard and being unable to follow up), to counterattack with a varied defence, or to tire out the opposition. Is this reasonable, or are there other ways to be less defensive and proactively create advantages against MD style players?
     
    #1 DarkHiatus, May 30, 2019
    Last edited: May 30, 2019
  2. SnowWhite

    SnowWhite Regular Member

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    I am the kind of MD-style MS player you describe. Not only because I mainly play MD, but also because I "have no choice". I like playing at the net, I like attacking clears, I like "attacking lifts" from the net court.
    I like to blow my opponents away before they ever get in the game or get rhythm. This is what happens when I play against lower level players. I tend to start at 100% when others need time to get a feel and get into the game.

    There is a certain player I play nearly every week in singles. I'd say he wins about 6 out of 10, but for arguments sake lets say its 50-50. There is only 1 way I can beat this player. Only when I can outpace him, or when I can force my attacking setups, can I win.

    Most coaches would say he's the better player (and I would agree). His footwork is cleaner and more efficient, his shots are more consistent, his defence is formidable. He's a rally player.

    What I have on him is explosive speed and though my smash might not be better, I tend to follow up my smashes more aggressively and successfully.

    Here as what usually happens. Either I push through, score my points and win. Or I burn out against his defence and he wins. 9 times out of 10 my wins are in 2 sets(cause if I need a third I can't play my forcing game and lose in the rallies). The scores can vary widely as well, if I succeed in blowing him away right out of the gate, it could be 21-10 at the end, or if his defence holds and I can't get anything on the ground and I lose my patience/explosive edge due to fatigue, it could be 10-21. If I however, take him on in the rally and wait for my opportunities(instead of forcing them), I tend to lose 9 out of 10 with a relatively close score, I'd get 15-19 points.

    So...

    How to play against me. If you can't outpace me, don't try. I feed of pace and it helps me play my game. What I absolutely hate, is when my opponent takes away the pace. I don't mind playing rallies and waiting for opportunities, but if I get opportunities and start accelerating and attacking, I hate it when my opponents reset the situation with a good high clear or lift. I like to follow up my smashes. If you block it to the net (which happens 90%) then I can play my game. Ill play a net shot, a push, an attacking lift, if it's loose I kill it. Don't play a loopy defence, because I will be there, right at the tape, if not to kill it, then to play a tight net shot or a fast shot over your head to the back corners.
    However, if you play a good lift on my smash I have to cancel my forward momentum, go back and play a shot that's likely less threatening than the previous one. If you can do this consistently, you will win.

    In badminton, you're taught that you have to control the rallies, that you have to force your game on your opponent, that you decide what happens on court. Often people imagine someone outpacing someone else and using his attacking play to dominate the rallies. But as a "defensive" "4-corners" kind of player, you can force your rallies onto your opponent as well. Don't give him any opportunities. Keep it safe and simple and if he ever tries to make something happen, cancel it immediately. Don't give him any momentum.

    Even if it's not the playing style you're comfortable with, if you have the ability to play like this, be prepared to frustrate a lot of MD-style players.

    Also:
    Deception is also a great tool to break the fast paced rhythm of the MD-player. It cancels all momentum and fatigues players much faster than a regular shot to the same area of the court.

    Lastly,
    If you can keep the score even while defending you're likely to win in the end, as no one can play on their 6th gear the entire match. That's the main problem with the MD-style player, even if they can seemingly score points at will in the beginning, it's not sustainable for 2 games. Often when I get a solid lead I slow down and start playing more conservatively to save energy. Though against some players I can sometimes be too "scared" to slow down.

    This kind of player is playing against you, but he is also playing against his own stamina. He always has to estimate how much longer he can play at 100% and if it is worth the effort. He always has to keep in mind that he could lose his edge. He has to figure out if he can win with his "normal" non-explosive game. or if his normal game is good enough to protect his lead.

    His stamina will run out, maybe not to the point that he can't move anymore, but at least to the point where he can't play his 6th gear game anymore. His stamina will run out, it always does at a certain point and he knows it is going to happen too. If you do find a player that can play a 6th gear game for 2 games straight... then that was his 4th or 5th gear and he hasn't shown you his 6th.

    Edit:
    Favouring cross shots just opens up your court for them to put pressure on you. But you're right in the sense that doubles players are more likely to try and anticipate your shots and often prematurely commit to it positionally. In doubles this is more often a good idea, because the pay off is often worth the risk and because you have a partner to cover you when you guess wrong.

    This is another reason why deception is so effective against these kinds of players. They are more willing to commit to what they think is coming and are unprepared when the shuttle goes where they didn't expect it.
     
    #2 SnowWhite, May 30, 2019
    Last edited: May 30, 2019
    kwun, Cheung, wemo1234 and 6 others like this.
  3. Cheung

    Cheung Moderator

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    The key is to slow the game down. This sets the doubles player playing singles off their natural pace and rhythm. A game of frustration then sets in for them. They will constantly look to 'make' shots which create a winning position or high quality shots. Eventually, errors set in. As @SnowWhite wrote, if the doubles player playing singles also cannot use his sixth gear by his opponent (i.e. you) giving neutral shots, and by you throwing in the odd deception shot and change of pace, then these work in your advantage.

    These players are quite predictable in smashing anything that is slightly short. So set your base back a bit when you do play a high lift that is a bit short - this will encourage the opponent to smash or drop and discourage him from playing attack clears (because you can quite easily play a quick stick smash off an attack clear). This also means you have narrowed his shot choice to either smash or drop - you now have limited him to playing into a smaller area of the court. He will be under more pressure to play more accurate drops.

    When training your receiving of smash, there are two choices for your defensive shot. One is to play flattish with the shuttle landing just past the service line. They won't be able to use the smash-rush net-kill loose shot strategy and you extend the rally as well as them using up anaerobic capacity. If I have played a decent block, they can't kill the shuttle and I just reset the situation by my next shot being a high neutral clear (or lift from the net) that is to the back tramlines to make them run more after using their anaerobic capacity. I can tell you only the very fittest can last two sets with this and the more times they use up anaerobic capacity in one rally, i.e. change from slow to fast, back to slow, back to fast, back to slow, the more they fall into your trap.

    The second defensive shot is to mix it up and play a cross court block off their smash. This is a devastating shot when the opponent gives it their best smash and see it change direction whilst they themselves are still running in a straight line.

    @SnowWhite also mentioned the occasional lift off a smash. If they play another second smash off that lift and you have regained a good defensive position, you have prolonged their anaerobic time. Don't use this strategy too often because the opponent learns and stops playing a second smash. It's good for twice in a game over a three set match.

    Deliberately extending the rallies with neutral shots is a good strategy because most MD rallies are pretty short. The doubles player is less used to playing extended rallies and as the rally progresses, the more chance the opponent will make a mistake (and also outwardly show fatigue). Once you see them putting hands on hips and trying to take a longer rest during service preparation, you know you have got them in the bag.
     
    #3 Cheung, Aug 19, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2019
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  4. Cheung

    Cheung Moderator

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    I used to be the MD converted to MS player. Initially my attack was pretty good. But I would still lose quite a bit to certain players. I noticed that time my singles coach would be tending to work on my attack game and anaerobic capacity i.e. my strengths. One day, I said to him I need to learn more netshots because of not feeling confident. So then I learnt cross courts a lot better and especially the spinning netshot which I wasn't very good at before because we don't use it that much in doubles. I felt that gave me an extra dimension to my game to neutralise the strong opponent and keep myself in control.

    Then I beefed up my defense as described above.

    Lastly, I changed my thinking and training to being prepared for long rallies.

    Had some great matches after that - singles three setters that might take an hour to complete in the heat and humidity of Hong Kong (no aircon courts). Loved that time.

    Now I am back to MD (if not injured) but new tactics and strategy compared to the old days.
     

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