All original content copyright © Mike Hopley
When your opponent smashes, you have very little time to change your badminton grip. So which grip should you use while you are waiting for the smash?
These grips are excellent for lifting the shuttlecock, with either a backhand or forehand action.
Personally, I like to make a slight adjustment so that the basic grip is shifted farther towards the thumb grip. With this adjustment, the V shape rests more directly over bevel 2 (its normal position is over the edge between bevel 1 and bevel 2).
I find this adjustment makes both backhand and forehand lifts easier.
Many players use a full thumb grip for backhand smash defence.
This badminton grip restricts the use of your forearm muscles, making it harder to achieve good height and depth on your lifts.
Make sure your badminton grip is relaxed. You may find it helpful to shake the badminton racket lightly up and down in your fingers while you wait for the smash.
In doubles, use a short grip: this will allow you to flick the shuttlecock more powerfully with a very short swing.
In singles, the smash is normally returned with a block to the net; lifting or driving the shuttlecock is rarely useful, and so the benefits of a short grip are usually wasted in singles. Using a long grip gives you more reach, which is important in singles because your defence must cover the entire court width.
I suggest a long grip for singles defence; but if you want to try drives or lifts then a short grip may be better.
Although you rarely have time for a complete rearrangement of your badminton grip, you often can make small changes before you hit the shuttlecock.
These small changes can help you play different types of replies to the smash, and can also help you control the angle of your shot. For example, moving farther towards a thumb grip can help you play better backhand drives.
When the smash is flat (not steep), you will have more time to change your badminton grip, because the smash must be slower. If the smash is flat and very fast, then leave it: it will land out at the back. For flat smashes, you will often want to change to a panhandle grip, so that you can counter-attack with a flat drive, block, or push.
There are three main styles of smash defence:
Backhand-biased defence is where the player commits to playing a backhand: he will play most forehand defence using a backhand hitting action. Often the badminton grip moves farther towards a thumb grip. Avoid using a full thumb grip, however, because it will limit the power of your lifts and drives.
Crouch defence is where the player crouches and uses an overhand hitting action (the badminton racket is above the hand). The badminton grip here is normally a panhandle grip, but sometimes a thumb grip is used on the backhand side. This form of defence involves complete commitment to counter-attacking strokes (no lifts).
All three methods are valid, and each requires practice.
Neutral defence is the foundation of your defensive technique. This one needs the most practice. Backhand-biased defence is fine in moderation, but observant opponents will exploit a weak forehand defence: they will push your backhand defence to the point of collapse, by aiming smashes at your extreme forehand side.
Crouch defence is highly specialised. In many situations it will be a disaster. Used at the right time, however, it can be deadly.
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