The Badminton Bible

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All original content copyright © Mike Hopley

Deception in the forecourt

The forecourt is the most fruitful area for deception, because you can play shots with a short racket swing.

Forecourt deception usually involves faking a soft shot before playing a more powerful one; but occasionally this is reversed.

Deceptive lifts

With all of these deceptions, the lift should be played flat. Besides requiring less power, playing the lift flat deprives your opponent of time, thereby making your deception much more damaging.

Hold and flick

The basic idea is to play your lifts with a very short hitting action. Your preparation should look the same as a net shot, and you should hold this posture as long as you can. This shot is often called a hold-and-flick; try to delay your flick until the last possible moment, when your opponent has already started moving towards the net.

Reversing the hold-and-flick

As an occasional variation, you can reverse this deception by making a larger swing — as though playing a lift — before slowing down your racket movement and playing a net shot. The downside is that your net shot will be less accurate; the upside is that, because this deception is less common, it’s more surprising.

Another method is to use a three-part deception:

  1. Fake a straight net shot (the hold).
  2. Fake a lift, by withdrawing the racket (the flick, but this time it’s fake).
  3. Play a straight net shot.

This deception is similar to a common cross-court net shot deception (see below). What’s especially interesting about this version, however, is that your final shot is the same as your original fake!

Because of this, it’s essential that your opponent has time to see the second false action. If he misses this false action, then all you’ve achieved is to show your opponent the shot you intend to play, and delay it slightly (giving him more time) while reducing your accuracy (using a fancier technique)!

Double motion

This is mainly used for deceiving your opponent about the direction of your lift.

For example, you can start a racket swing in a cross-court direction, before withdrawing the racket and quickly playing a straight shot instead (bending back the wrist to help achieve the straight angle).

Slicing your lifts

This is technically very difficult, but it can produce spectacular results. As with double motion, sliced lifts are used to mislead your opponent about the direction of the shot; but they can be more deceptive, because they use an uninterrupted swing.

The difficulty is achieving enough power on your lift: the slice takes away much of the shot’s power. Therefore these shots are best reserved for when you can safely play a very flat lift — almost a drive.

Deceptive net shots

There are several variations for deceiving your opponent about the direction of your net shots. The most common variations involve faking a straight net shot before playing cross-court; but this deception can be reversed.

The basic cross-court deception

Fake a straight net shot, and then drop your arm at the last moment, rotating your arm so that your racket head turns to face cross-court. With this deception, you are trying to play the shuttle at the highest possible point: your elbow and hand drop, but your racket head stays at the same height.

A three-part deception, where you allow the shuttle to drop

A variation on the above deception is to first bring your racket head down, as though trying to play a deceptive lift. But instead, you turn your arm and play a cross-court net shot.

So this shot has three parts:

  1. Fake a straight net shot.
  2. Fake a lift.
  3. Play a cross-court net shot.

The second part, where you fake a lift, actually makes the last part easier: it’s easier to play this shot if you allow the shuttle to drop.

Although allowing the shuttle to drop might seem like a bad idea, this gives your opponent time to see your second false action (faking a lift). So this shot can actually be more effective when you allow the shuttle to drop slightly farther! You need to judge how long it will take your opponent to notice the false action; if you feel he’s quicker on the uptake, then you can make the drop shorter.

Reversing the deception

Angle your racket to play a cross-court net shot, but then roll your arm under the shuttle so that you play a straight spinning net shot instead.

This deception only works if the shuttle is close to the net (in order to play a spinning net shot).

Once you’ve established this deception, you can reverse it again by playing a simple cross-court net shot. Remember: nothing is inherently deceptive! It depends on what your opponent is expecting.

Deceptive net shots from the middle

These usually occur as a return of your opponent’s low serve (because this is one of the few times he will play towards the middle at the net).

Use double motion to begin a net shot in one direction, then delay the shot a moment while you withdraw the racket slightly and make a new swing in the other direction.