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Badminton grip principles

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Before you learn individual badminton grips, you should be aware of some principles about holding a badminton racket.

If you understand the principles, then all the details will make sense. If you don’t understand the principles, then the detailed instructions can seem arbitrary and alien.

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Relaxed badminton grips

A relaxed grip
Basic grip, showing spread fingers

Badminton grips should be relaxed so that the muscles of the forearm can work effectively.

Many players believe that a tight grip gives them more power. That is wrong: in order to generate power, the grip must initially be relaxed.

The feeling of a relaxed grip

It is extremely important to learn how a correctly relaxed badminton grip feels.

As a test, hold out your badminton racket to a friend and ask him to take it from you. The racket should come out your hand smoothly and effortlessly; if he encounters resistance, then you are holding the racket too tightly.

Many players feel that it’s impossible to play with such a relaxed grip. This is because their skills have developed over years of holding a badminton racket too tightly. New techniques always feel unnatural.

When you learn a new badminton grip, you must also learn how to use it. Grips and technique are inseparable.

Flexible badminton grips

A relaxed badminton grip is also more flexible: you can quickly change the angle of your badminton racket by turning the handle between your fingers. This is useful because:

  • You can change quickly between different badminton grips.
  • You have finer control of the direction that you hit the shuttlecock.
  • For some strokes, you can even turn the racket in the fingers as you hit the shuttlecock (for example, a spinning net shot).

Badminton grip tightening

A tightening of the hand should occur on impact with the shuttlecock.

This tightening will be much greater for power strokes (such as a smash) than for soft strokes (such as a net shot). For soft strokes, the slight tightening keeps the racket head stable.

You can only make effective use of grip tightening if your badminton grip is initially relaxed.

Often the grip at the end of a stroke (after finger tightening) differs from the grip at the start of the stroke.

Key tip

In this guide, I am teaching you how to hold the racket before you hit the shuttlecock. That’s why all the grips photographs will show a relaxed grip.

You must remember, however, that your grip will become tighter at the moment of impact with the shuttlecock, and the finger positions may change.

A relaxed grip before impact
Badminton thumb grip, showing gap
A tight grip on impact
Badminton thumb grip, tightened

Photographs can be misleading

Photographs of professional badminton players often give misleading impressions of their grips.

The photographs are usually taken as the players hit the shuttlecock, or just afterwards; by this time, they have completed finger tightening. This has two consequences:

  • They are holding the badminton racket very tightly.
  • Their finger positions may have changed.

Direction of the racket face

A good badminton grip allows you to control the angle of the racket face, so that you can hit the shuttlecock in the direction you want.

For straight shots, the racket face will finish parallel to the net on impact (in other words, it faces forwards on impact).

But the angle of the racket at the start of the stroke is often different from the angle at impact. This is mainly because, in order to generate power, badminton strokes require a turning motion of the racket.

Side-on racket angle before impact
Forehand drive, before impact
Racket faces forwards at impact
Forehand drive, at impact

Hand position

The bottom of the hand should be level with the end of the racket handle; the palm should not extend beyond the end of the handle.

For some strokes, this hand position may change.

Correct hand position
normal length grip
Error: hand too low
hand off the bottom of the handle

Finger positions

Gaps between the fingers
Forehand smash/drive preparation

Small gaps between the fingers make your badminton grip more sensitive, and increase the effectiveness of grip tightening. Clumping all your fingers together makes them less effective.

The gap between the index finger and middle finger is especially important (often this is a larger gap).

Using the thumb for backhands

For all backhand strokes, the badminton racket handle must be supported by an extended (straight) thumb. The thumb should remain extended throughout the hitting action: if you let it curl around the handle, then you will get a floppy backhand.

Key tip

The thumb won’t always be directly behind the racket handle (a thumb grip). Often it will be on a diagonal bevel, or even towards the side.

Whatever its exact position, the thumb should always be straight for backhands, to provide a stable hold on the badminton racket.

Forehands are different. With forehands, you have plenty of support from the other fingers, and often the thumb will be curled around the racket handle at the end of finger tightening.