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Forehand high serve technique

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The low, flick, and drive serves form a family of serves: with correct technique, it will be difficult for your opponent to predict which of them you are going to play.

This is not true for the high serve. When you play a high serve, your preparation is different from the other serves.

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Hitting technique

The high serve has a much larger swing than the other serves. In the early part of the swing, your racket travels well out behind you. It then swings through in a wide arc, passing below the level of your knees, and coming upwards to strike the shuttlecock from below with a low contact point.

In contrast, all the other serves use a compact swing with a flatter motion, striking the shuttlecock more from behind than from below. The lowest point of the racket head is about the level of your hips.

The high serve also uses much more pronounced arm rotation: the arm is fully turned out (supinated) on the backswing, and fully turned in (pronated) on the forward swing. The arm follows through, often finishing with the racket over the other shoulder.

Timing the drop

Because the contact point of the serve is lower, the shuttlecock must be dropped for a longer distance. It can be difficult to learn the timing of this. Beginners frequently miss the shuttlecock because they drop it and swipe desperately with their racket at the same time.

Give the shuttlecock time to fall. Drop, wait, hit. Drop the shuttlecock into the racket’s path and in front of you.

Make it as high as possible

It’s important to understand that the high serve puts no time pressure on your opponent. He has plenty of time to move backwards into position.

The advantage of the high serve over the flick serve is its trajectory. A good high serve travels upwards almost to the back of the court; then the shuttlecock turns and falls almost vertically down into the back tramlines. This strange behaviour is due to the shuttlecock’s high drag (the air slows it down), and is unique in racket sports.

The higher you hit it, the more vertically it falls down.

It is difficult for the receiver to deal with a vertically falling shuttlecock, because he is at risk of hitting the feathers and losing control of his shot. After a flick serve this doesn’t happen, because the cork is pointing forwards as it falls.

Aim for the ceiling, not the back line

Many players hit the high serve out, because they aim for the back line. When they do this, they naturally play the serve too flat.

In your practices, focus on hitting the serve as high as you can, while maintaining control of your shot. Don’t worry about where it lands. Once you are hitting it high enough, you can adjust the serve so that it lands in the back tramlines.