Why You Shouldn’t Always “Get Your Racket Up” In Badminton

“Get your racket up!” is one of the most common things a coach might say, but it isn’t always the best advice to give! 

We’ll now go into detail about why you shouldn’t always give this advice, and what you should do instead. 

Why Is “Get Your Racket Up” The Wrong Advice?

There are 2 main reasons why “get your racket up” is the wrong advice: most people put their arm straight up, and the pro’s don’t do it like you would think! 

It is worth noting that this discussion is not taking into account the majority of shots you play in singles, or even when waiting for overhead or defensive shots in doubles. In these situations you would generally be waiting with your racket low anyway. If you are unsure about this then just watch any professional badminton match. 

Most People Would Put Their Arm Straight Up

If you were to tell someone to put their arm up, what would they do?

Most people would probably bring their arm straight up next to their ear, like the image below. And this is often what people do, especially at the net.

Incorrect arm positioning at the net

But, this is actually not an effective position to be in because:

  • Having your arm straight up often means you’re tense, which prevents you from generating power. Essentially, your shoulder is locked into place, so you can’t generate any fluid movement.
  • If your opponent hits it below net height, you have to move your arm a long way down (which takes time that you probably don’t have) and you’ll likely hit the shuttle a lot later!

Instead, if you do have your racket up, your arm should be relaxed, a bit bent and more out in front of you, like the image below. This will allow you to hit the shuttle earlier and make faster position changes depending on where the shuttle goes.

Correct racket positioning at the net

The Pros Don’t Do It Like You Would Think!

When you watch some of the professional players, they often don’t have their racket up in the rallies, even at the net. 

Kevin Sanjaya with a low racket carriage

There are a few reasons for this:

  • Having your racket low might show to your opponents that there are gaps in the court to hit into, and might even tempt them to hit there because you don’t look ready. But, you actually are ready, and can bring your racket up milliseconds after your opponent has hit their shot!
  • It can help you stay relaxed, and therefore play better quality shots as a result.
  • Keeping your racket lower also means you’re more likely to have a slightly bigger swing, which can help with generating more power and intimidating your opponents. But, you still need to have very fast reactions to do this whilst still taking the shuttle early.
  • Many pros will only lift their elbow / racket up just as their opponent is about to hit the shuttle, and no earlier than this!
  • Some players have a combination of incredible reactions, fast racket speeds and an amazing ability to read the game, which means they can afford to have their rackets low. So, if you have the same speed and reactions, you can do this too!

When Should You Keep Your Racket Up?

If you don’t have lightning-fast reactions or an ability to develop these skills (most pros have developed them over thousands of hours of practice!), then having your racket in a higher position could be a good idea for you. It also depends where you are on the court and where you’re expecting the shuttle to go. 

For example, if you’re expecting a shot to come above the height of the net when you’re at the net or mid-court, we would advise you to have your elbow slightly out in a relaxed position (like the picture below) – it shouldn’t be too tucked in or too high above your head!

Elbow out in a relaxed position

💡 When at the net and mid-court, your arm should be in a comfortable position for you to move as fast as you can – whether that’s down by your knees, or up by your head!

In the rear court, you don’t want your racket ready too high, otherwise you won’t get your preparation quite right with your overhead shots. The rear court is ALL about staying relaxed and opening your chest out. So if you have your arm up from the beginning then you won’t be able to open out as much and you’ll lose power, accuracy and control!

You also don’t want your racket up very high when you are defending, in both singles and doubles! The only time you would have it at waist height or above is if your opponent was taking their overhead shot late and you think you have an opportunity to counter attack.  

Lastly, each individual has different strengths and characteristics that are unique to them, so it’s important to give advice that is tailored to those things. For example, if you’re a shorter player, you will need your racket up a lot more than a taller player!

Learn More

We hope you now understand that there can be different situations in badminton where a common piece of coaching advice might not always be correct, such as always having your racket up! If you want to learn more about how to intercept effectively at the net, click here.

If you’d like to see more visual examples of what we’ve discussed, you can watch our YouTube video on why ‘getting your racket up’ might not always be the right advice below!