The Drive Serve In Badminton: Everything You Need To Know

The drive serve, or flat serve in badminton is a type of flick serve hit with a very flat trajectory, often putting the receiver under a lot of pressure. It’s popularity grew after the change of service rules brought by the BWF (Badminton World Federation) in 2018.

In this article we’ll discuss whether it’s illegal to do in badminton, how to do it, and some tactics! 

Table of Contents

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 – where 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 Do The Drive Serve In Badminton

First, you need to set up your racket and the shuttle as you normally would for a low serve as this forms part of the deception.

Serve set up

You also need to do the same preparation and hitting action as a low serve to the T, but just before you strike the shuttle, you squeeze your grip with your fingers and thumb adding more power into the shot.

To maximise the deception, you should:

  • Have a very short backswing – it will be obvious you’re about to hit the serve harder if you suddenly have a big backswing!

  • Add the power as late as possible.

  • Keep your body position and eye contact exactly the same as you would when hitting a normal low serve – don’t lean back or look up!

💡 It's the combination of many little things that form the ultimate deception!

Where Should You Play The Drive Serve To?

It’s most common to hit this serve down your opponent’s backhand side as most people aren’t covering this in their stance and it’s the hardest area for people to quickly move their racket to. 

However, you can occasionally play an across-the-body drive serve to completely surprise your opponent! 

Drive serve placement
Drive serve placement down opponent's backhand side - where the circle shows the trajectory and the arrow shows the landing position

Even if the drive serve isn’t a winner but it is executed well, you will likely gain an advantage and win the point in the next few shots anyway!

💡 Similar to a flick serve, playing a drive serve can be a good way make your opponents stand a little further back on the return of serve in future points, and therefore play worse quality returns from the low serve.

What Should You Do After The Drive Serve?

It’s very rare to see someone returning the drive serve with a soft shot, because they are often just reacting and a typical reaction is to play a hard shot. You can therefore be ready for this and anticipate it. 

This serve is a great way to win a quick point, especially at crucial stages when your opponent is likely to be more nervous and may be more susceptible to being caught out with it!

💡 You need to be careful not to overuse this serve or do it badly, as it could end up backfiring on you!

Learn More

The flat drive serve in badminton is one of those shots that when you get it right, is so satisfying and fun to play! If you’d like to learn to more about how to perfect your low serve in badminton, click here.

If you want to learn how to RETURN the flat drive serve, you can do so here

Or, if you’d like to watch our full YouTube video on what we’ve discussed above, and to see video examples of players using this serve effectively, you can check that out below. It was one of our first ever on-court YouTube videos so apologies for the bad quality!