How To RETURN The Flat Drive Serve In Badminton

The flat drive serve in badminton is one of the most difficult serves to return. We have already done a tutorial for how to hit the perfect drive serve here, but what happens if you’re on the receiving end of the serve?

To effectively return the flat drive serve in badminton you need to prepare correctly, notice your opponent’s serving patterns, and be ready for it to come at anytime. Once you master these areas you will be guaranteed to get more drive serves back, and also to play good shots from them!

We’ll now go through our top tips on how to get the drive serve back and also how to play a good quality shot from it!

Is The Drive Serve Illegal In Badminton?

The drive serve in badminton is legal, as long as the whole shuttle is below 1.15m when the server hits the shuttle. 

It is important to mention that many clubs around the world will still adopt the old service rules whereby the shuttle must be struck below the bottom rib with the racket head pointing in a downwards direction.

All other service rules must also be adhered to. You can learn more about the latest badminton serving rules here.

How To Effectively Prepare To Return The Flat Drive Serve

The most important thing when returning the drive serve is your ready position. 

You want to be stood with your non-racket leg forwards and most of your weight going through this leg so that you’re ready to move either forwards or backwards.

Return of serve positioning

Now, there are three other important points when returning the serve:

1. Racket position – your racket should be relaxed and out in front of you, and not too tucked in or with your arms straight out in front of you or to either side (which are common mistakes we see).

2. Grip – you want to be in a neutral bevel grip so that you can adapt quickly to wherever the serve goes (learn more about the different grips in badminton here).

Bevel grip

3. Body positioning – different opponents will vary how much they use the drive serve and some will even have a favourite side they do this serve from, so you need to be mindful of this.
If you find you’re getting caught out quite a lot down one specific side then you can move your positioning to cover this more. You would take this approach with any serve that is working against you.

How To Return The Flat Drive Serve

Now that you’ve perfected your ready position, the rest should be a lot easier!

To be able to return the drive serve, you do need to have good reactions and a fast racket but also the awareness that this drive serve can come at any time! So whilst you need to be ready for the low serve and the flick serve, you should always be ready for the drive serve too (especially if your opponent has already done it before)!

How much you need to be ready may depend on who you’re playing. Try to spot differences in the technique of your opponents to give you a clue of when they’re playing this drive or flick serve as opposed to a low serve. For example, they might have a slightly bigger swing or be standing slightly further back!

What Shot Should You Play When Returning The Drive Serve?

It’s natural to play a hard return since the shuttle is coming at you very fast. A hard return is a good choice especially if you make good contact with the shuttle and ensure it is going in a flat or downwards direction. 

We would recommend hitting the hard return back at the server, as it will be difficult for them to react in time. Their partner will have more time to see your return, so they will be more ready for it. 

However, lots of people will be expecting this hard return and will be waiting for it – which is when a soft shot into space can also be effective (though it is very hard to do)!

Learn More

We hope we’ve shown you that the drive serve is possible to return, as long as you have the right preparation and are aware of when it is likely to come! 

If you’re interested, you can learn how to play the flat drive serve effectively here.

Lastly, you can also check out our full YouTube video on how to return the flat drive serve in badminton below, to see us demonstrating the tips we have discussed above.