6 Common Net Mistakes In Badminton Doubles (+ How To Fix Them)

We have coached badminton players at a variety of levels, whether that’s beginners, intermediate or advanced. We have also analysed many hours of our YouTube subscribers playing badminton.

Throughout all of this, we kept seeing the same common mistakes that players were making at the net in doubles.

With some simple changes, these mistakes can be fixed and your game can be taken to a new level!

6 common mistakes badminton player’s make at the net in doubles are:

  • Only hitting straight shots
  • Standing too close to the net
  • Trying to play a winning shot too early
  • Waiting with their racket down
  • Not changing between grips quickly enough
  • Staying in the middle

We’ll now go through each of these 6 mistakes in more detail, and more importantly, what you should do instead! 

Mistake #1 - Only Hitting Straight Shots

Only hitting straight shots is mainly a mistake when you’re striking the shuttle at the top of the net height or lower. 

There are 2 main reasons why only hitting straight shots from this position is a mistake:

  • It makes your shots from this position really predictable, meaning your opponent can prepare their body and racket position before you’ve even struck the shuttle.

  • It doesn’t make your opponent twist and turn at all. Humans are fastest when moving in straight lines, so making your opponent twist and turn forces them to change direction, making them slower.

💡 This doesn’t mean you should start playing everything cross-court though, as this is not effective too!

Instead, we recommend you use an under-rated and under-used shot – a ‘half turn’ to the middle. This is what the better players do so well to make it really difficult for their opponents.

You can use the half turn to make your opponents slightly change direction when they might be anticipating a straight shot. It might not be a winning shot but it will certainly make it harder for them and often means they can’t put you under as much pressure!

Arrow showing the direction of the 'half turn' shot to the middle

Mistake #2 - Standing Too Close To The Net

There are 4 reasons why you need to avoid standing too close to the net:

1) If your opponents hit it hard, it’s much more difficult to react. This means you’re more likely to mistime the shuttle and make a mistake, or just miss it completely.

2) It’s harder to see what’s happening. If you bring your face very close to the screen you’re reading this on, it’s much harder to see! This is a similar concept to on-court where if you are too close to the net, then it’s much harder to see what’s happening.

3) Being too close means you can only cover the soft shots in front of the service line, and your partner then has to cover everything else on the court. Even if you think your partner is a lot better than you, it’s still not the right thing to do.

4) It shows a lot of space on the court to your opponents and can make the game feel really easy for them.

So what should you do instead?  

Firstly, standing a little further back will make it much easier to react and see what’s happening on the court. You’ll also be able to cover more shots too, creating less space for your opponents to hit into. 

An added benefit is that it’s much harder for your opponent’s to make you twist and turn when you’re further back as you’re now moving forwards INTO the shot, rather than sidewards when you’re standing too close.

Correct net positioning

But exactly how far back you should be depends on a few things:

  • If you or partner plays a soft shot in front of the service line and your opponent is taking the shuttle below the height of the net, then you can move your position forwards to around the service line. This is because the more likely shot from your opponents is either a soft net shot, or a high lift!
  • But if you or your partner plays a harder shot behind the service line, then we would recommend standing further back. This is because it’s more likely for your opponents to play harder, flatter shots, and you’re therefore in a better position to intercept them and potentially help your partner out.
If you want to learn more about how (and when) to intercept shots at the net, check out this article here.

Mistake #3 - Trying To Play A Winning Shot Too Early

We’ve all had those times where our opponent has hit a bad defensive block, and you picture yourself hitting an amazing net kill winner… But the reality is you don’t always get there early enough to play that winning shot.

Because you think you’re going to get there early enough for the kill, you take a big swing, but by the time you’ve done this you’re actually not taking the shuttle where you thought you would. Instead you end up hitting the shuttle into the net or out the back of the court!

There will also be times where you fully commit to a winning shot like a net kill, hit it over and in BUT it goes straight to your opponents racket. Going for this winner too early allows your opponent to hit the shot back into what is now a huge space on your side of the court.

So, how can you get better at recognising when the opportunity is there to go for the winning shot? And when it’s not?

The key is that you don’t always have to fully commit to a big winner. Instead, you can play a shot that applies pressure but still enables you to stay on balance. And when you’re on balance, you can place this shot well, setting either you or your partner up to win the rally on the next shot!

💡 Sometimes a shot with a bit less power or a little bit of a shorter swing can be more effective as it prevents the risk of making a mistake and can put you in a better position for the next shot.

Mistake #4 - Waiting With Your Racket Down

Waiting with your racket down by your ankles is a huge mistake! This is because:

  • It slows down the time for you to react to shots, as you have to waste time bringing your racket up to above the height of the net. This therefore means you’ll hit the shot later or even not at all!

  • It makes you look less threatening to your opponents. You’ll be surprised how many points you might win purely because you look like you’re ready and waiting for their shot!

Instead, we would recommend that as soon as you see your opponent is about to hit their shot, start getting your elbow up so you’re roughly in this position:

However, you don’t want to have your racket up too high. This is bad for a couple of reasons:

  • Doing this can make your arm really stiff and tense, which actually reduces your power. 

  • If your opponents hit a shot at net height or below, you then have to bring your arm a long way down, which wastes time and reduces your control.   

The only times where you CAN get away with having your racket low is if you have lightening fast reactions along with great racket speed and the ability to read the game REALLY well – like Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo or Hendra Setiawan. 

But unfortunately, most of us haven’t been blessed with those skills and also haven’t put in the thousands of hours the pros have!

Therefore, we’d recommend having a racket position similar to the photo above.

Mistake #5 - Not Changing Between Grips Quickly Enough

This skill can be the difference between you taking the shot early and timing it well, or completely mistiming it! The main mistake we see people make is not switching to a backhand grip when they need to.

To improve this skill of changing between grips quickly:

  • You want to change your grip with your fingers and thumb. If you’re playing with your fingers and thumb tightly wrapped around your handle it’s going to be difficult to change grips mid rally – so you need to be relaxed and loose!

💡 It’s much easier to turn the racket with a loose grip, compared to a tense grip.

You can learn more about how to change between grips in badminton here.

Mistake #6 - Staying In The Middle

Staying in the middle makes it both frustrating for you because it’s difficult to reach a lot of shots and also frustrating for your partner because they have to cover both sides, making things much harder for them!

So what should you be doing instead? The answer to this like a lot of situations in badminton…it depends! But we’ll go through 2 simple scenarios that often happen in a match:

Scenario 1

Your opponents have lifted, your partner is in a good position at the back and hits a good straight smash. The likely shot from your opponents is a straight block, but if you stay stood in the middle then either you or your partner will have to take the shuttle late. 

Whereas if you moved over slightly on the side they smashed to in what we call a channel attack’, you would be able to intercept this shot. You can then hopefully win the point, or as we said earlier, play a shot to set yourself up to finish it on the next shot! 

This ‘channel attack’ is shown in the photo below.

Again, you can learn more about intercepting shots at the net here.

Channel attack positioning after a good straight smash where R represents the rear court player and N represents the net player

Scenario 2

If your partner is under pressure in the rear court, you would stand slightly to the other side. This is because your partner is likely to play a slightly worse shot and therefore your opponents are more likely able to step into the shot, and the gap they will see is cross court to the opposite side of where your partner is.

Because of this slight difference in contact point, your partner would have a lot less time to move to this cross-court shot and therefore it is your job to move out and try to intercept it.

Positioning when rear court player is under pressure where R represents the rear court player and N represents the net player

💡 Those are just 2 scenarios, and the advice changes depending on where the previous shot has been played from and what shot has been played. For example, for drop shots or softer shots you might move closer to the net as you shouldn’t need to worry about the flat counter attack as much.

Learn More

We hope you’ve this article has helped you identify mistakes you might be making at the net – and more importantly, how to fix them! If you want to learn how to effectively intercept shots at the net, click here.

Or, if you want to see more visual demonstrations and explanations as well practices you can do to fix the mistakes we’ve discussed above, you can watch the full YouTube video below.