The serve in badminton is used to start the rally, and there are four different types: a low serve, flick serve, drive serve and high serve. The low serve, flick serve and drive serve can all be performed using a backhand serve.
The backhand serve is most commonly used in the doubles categories, though is often seen in the singles categories too. It can have varying trajectories depending on the type of serve used.
A good backhand serve helps give you an advantage from the start of the rally. To perform it, use a backhand grip and hold the shuttlecock with your thumb and index finger. You should then move your racket backwards and forward in one short motion.
From studying over 200 professional and amateur doubles matches, we found an average of 59% of rallies were over in the first 4 shots, and many of these were service errors. This is a very high percentage and shows how important the role of the server is in badminton!
Having a consistent, effective serve can:
Step 1: Start with a backhand grip, holding the racket slightly higher up on the grip – the shorter lever will give you more control over the serve.
Step 2: Have your racket at around a 45-degree angle, as shown in the picture below.
Step 3: Have some space in between your racket and body to allow for a small backswing.
Exactly how much space you leave is down to your personal preference – we’ve seen some players almost entirely outstretched, and some quite tucked in; there are many different techniques that can be used, so we recommend experimenting to find what works best for you.
Step 4: Hold the shuttlecock with your thumb and index finger, about halfway down the feather (this is so that you can have a good grip of the shuttle, but equally you can move your fingers out of the way when you strike the shuttle!
Step 5: The angle you hold the shuttle is also very important. It should be roughly facing this direction:
This is because:
Step 6: How you stand when performing the backhand serve is down to your personal preference, but the most common way is to stand with your racket leg in front, or your feet side by side.
We’d encourage you to experiment and do what feels comfortable for you, as long as you are ready to move as soon as you have served.
Step 7: Stand close to the service line. This is the shortest distance for the shuttle to travel, meaning your opponent has less time to react once you hit your serve, and you can quickly move forwards to cover the net after serving too. However, in certain situations you would stand further back – such as if you’re playing singles or if you’re the male playing mixed doubles.
Step 1: Start with the shuttlecock touching your strings (or very close to touching), and then move your racket backwards and forwards in one simple short motion.
Step 2: Hit the shuttlecock out of your hand (don’t throw the shuttlecock up or let it drop too much)! This increases your control of the shuttle and the accuracy of your serve.
You should squeeze your grip (using your fingers and thumb) to create the little power required and hit the shuttle over the net. It is very simple!
As you strike the shuttle, we would advise you to hit it using the top edge of your strings.
You might be wondering why not the middle of the strings, and this is for 2 main reasons:
Everything up until this point will be exactly the same for the flick or drive serve. But from here onwards they are of course slightly different.
To perform a normal flick serve:
To perform a drive serve:
There are 7 main serves in doubles (shown on a badminton court in the image below):
1 – To the T
2 – To the middle / body
3 – Out wide to the tramline
4 – Flick down the centre line
5 – Flick out wide
6 – Drive down the centre line
7 – Drive out wide
Players often train for hours on the technical aspects of their game such as their smash or backhand, but often neglect practicing their serve!
So here are 3 ways to practice your backhand serve:
1. Simply stand and serve!
2. Get someone to return your serves
3. Practice it in a routine or match
Even though these practices are progressions from each other, they are all really great practices no matter what level of badminton player you are!
There isn’t one perfect technique when it comes to the serve, even a lot of the professional players serve slightly differently. So experiment and figure out what works for you, and hopefully the guidance in this article can serve you well and help you head in the right direction!
And if you’re interested, you can watch our YouTube video on how to perform a backhand serve below, which also includes some set plays to help you win some quick points off the serve!