Position after receiving serve

Discussion in 'Techniques / Training' started by Opus, Mar 16, 2020.

  1. Opus

    Opus New Member

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    Hi all,

    I have been playing badminton doubles for quite some time now but only recently I started to really analyse and breakdown all my badminton habits. One of the things that bug me is the positioning after receiving serve.

    Here's the scenario:
    I'm receiving serve from the opponent and I managed to return it by pushing the shuttle deep to corners (sometimes a bit too high which opens up the option for the back opponent to do quick smash), should I
    1. Commit and stay in front
    2. Push and return back to my box
    3. Vary 1 or 2 depending on the quality of the push (this might not be easy for my partner because he will have to react based on my subjective definition of the quality of the push)

    I noticed in my circle of friends including myself we are very used to doing 2, I have discussed with them about it but they all think that 2 is the better option, the reason being a fast smash or return to the sides will be difficult to return if we do 1.

    I'm convinced recently that 1 is the better option because I feel when returning serve, we should maintain a front-back attack position and the idea of doing number 2 strips that offensive advantage and turns it to a defensive position (box position).

    Some advice on this would be nice. Thanks!
     
  2. phihag

    phihag Regular Member

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    By default, if the opponents can hit the shuttle above or at net height height, you should be in a defensive (side-by-side, although this does generally not equal a box) stance, otherwise in an offensive one at the front.

    This is because the opponents can play a smash or fast drive longline and cross when your push is too high. If you go to the front, you might be able to get the occasional smash to the center, but even that is doubtful. Therefore, if you go to the front when the opponents smash, you force your partner to cover the entire court in defense. This is really, really hard.

    So the answer is clearly 3: You should only go to the front if you've forced the opponents to play an ascending shot, which allows your partner more time.

    Some players and pairs do speculate on a weak return (drive to the center or drop). You can do that if the opponent is not playing a smash (in lower leagues, you may know that, or see it from the player's racket). But generally, such movement to the front should be discussed before the match, as it requires a partner who is able to cover the whole court defensively.
     
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  3. DarkHiatus

    DarkHiatus Regular Member

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    I am going to say the answer is clearly 3 (Vary 1 or 2 depending on the quality of the push).

    1. take the scenario that your push is good e.g. your opponent gives a terrible serve, you attack it well and push it into your opponent's deep rearcourt and they must hit it upwards - they might even be off balance or taking it behind them with a backhand action. You would be nuts to move back into a sides defensive formation.

    2. take the scenario that your push was poor and rises (very) high above net level by the time the opponent can reach it (one of those awful floaty midcourt strokes), such that he can smash easily with good angle. Then you clearly need to be in a defensive position, because otherwise if you stay in the front, you are useless, and your partner is now playing 1 vs. 2.

    3. the in between area is where it gets interesting, just as you say because it is dependent on your "subjective definition of the quality of the push". Note the following:
    • the decision of whether the push is good or not is fully made by whoever returned the serve and played the push. the partner must follow suit whatever the front player chooses, whether it is "right or wrong". If the front player stays forward, the rearcourt player must cover the full width, and if the front player moves back, the partner must go into defence
    • It is up to the pair to communicate on whether they believe they should have been in attack or defence after the push (between points, or after the match) and eventually there will be a common understanding. This is exactly the same as when a player plays a lift - sometime the lift is an attacking flat lift that is almost a drive, and you can gain a massive advantage e.g. play it to your opponent's backhand corner when you see they are out of position.
    • The decision to move into offensive/defensive positions will not just vary on the quality of your push, but also the skill of your opponents. if you know your opponent is incapable of smashing (a bit of an exaggeration), then you could remain front/back after a poor push. On the other hand, if you know they are very skilled and can play a full court drive/smash with little/no backswing, even if they take the shuttle late/behind them on the backhand, you may still choose not to push forwards, and perhaps wait for an opportunity to attack their partner. Depends on your match strategy after all.
     
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  4. Opus

    Opus New Member

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    Hi all,

    Thanks for taking the time to write @phihag @DarkHiatus. Perhaps I was too blinded by my recent success of doing 1 (and also supported by the idea that generally when receiving serve, your partner stands behind you thus setting up a front-back attack formation) that I thought 1 is the optimal way. But I agree, communication and player composition need to be taken into consideration as well.

    Currently, I play with different groups of people where we pair randomly and I must say, 3 is difficult to execute successfully due to the reaction needed to act accordingly. I usually just stick to 1 or 2 and just follow through with it regardless of my return and hope for the best.
     
  5. DarkHiatus

    DarkHiatus Regular Member

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    To be honest, once you get into the higher levels of play, it is much more 1 than 2, simply because it takes too much time to do 2, and the margin for error is much lower - a poor push can be one that is literally contacted 1 inch above net height by the opponent, and at the high pace of play, there won't be much time to move back much. They are always in a front/back positioning (1) after serve relative to amateurs, but the front player might be 1 ft further away from the net than if they played a good push, so that could be considered a pro version of (2)...a defensive front/back almost!

    Therefore at higher levels of play, they are reliant on having good consistent pushes. That is why there is a huge focus on the first 3 shots of a rally in doubles - if executed consistently and accurately every time, it is very difficult to have a disadvantage before the fourth stroke.

    This is quite different for amateur levels of play where the definition of a poor push is often quite a bit higher than net height, and there is normally sufficient time to move back into a defensive formation.

    It's up to you to agree with your random partner - amateurs sometimes ask "do you prefer mixed or levels?", particularly in mixed doubles, but also in levels, and they are asking if you prefer to play sides or front/back. Of course the ideal is to be front/back where possible, but many amateurs play for fun, and if you stay at the front when they expressed a preference for sides/levels, then they'll get very uncomfortable if you cannot intercept strokes that would land on your 'side'.

    I would recommend you do your best to make (1) happen, but default to (2) if your partner prefers sides/levels or you are struggling to create any pressure with (1) against your opponents. Eventually (3) will happen as you understand when your opponents are in a strong or weak position, just like rushing the straight net when your opponent has to play a late backhand.
     

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