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Lifts

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Lifts are a badminton shot played from the midcourt or net area. A lift involves hitting the shuttle upwards towards the back of your opponent’s court.

Lifts vs. clears

Lifts and clears are different shots:

  • Lifts are played from the midcourt or net; clears are played from the rearcourt.
  • Lifts use an underarm hitting action; clears use an overhead/overarm hitting action.

The terminology is often used inconsistently. Sometimes you will hear people call lifts underarm clears, in an attempt to avoid confusion.

What this article covers

For now, we’ll look at these topics:

Deceptive lifts are not yet in this article, although you can read about the tactical ideas in my singles tactics article: deceptive shots from the net.

I also don’t cover lifts as smash defence here (long defence), since smash defence is a significant topic by itself.

Lifts are an essential shot

Because lifts are primarily a defensive shot, some players find them boring and neglect to practise them. This is a mistake: if you can play an accurate lift when under pressure, then you will win many more rallies.

Using lifts defensively

Men’s doubles players in particular often prefer to practise their attacking skills, correctly reasoning that attacking is the way to win in doubles. Yet your opponents are trying to attack too, and you must avoid throwing away points with weak defence.

Getting good height and depth on your lifts makes a huge difference. A high, deep lift will blunt your opponent’s attack, forcing him to work harder for a winning smash.

Direction matters too. In doubles, lifting accurately to the corners will allow you to maintain the best defensive position, open up space for counter-attacking shots, and put some pressure on the attackers’ movement. In singles, lifting to the middle helps you narrow down your opponent’s angles of attack.

Using lifts aggressively

Lifts can also be attacking shots. An attacking lift involves hitting the shuttle flatter (i.e. to a lower height): you’re trying to deprive your opponent of time and get the shuttle behind him.

Deceptive attacking lifts can be deadly, especially in singles. The idea is to fool your opponent into committing forwards to the net, before flicking the shuttle over his head.

You can also deceive opponents about the direction of your lifts. Once you recognise all the deceptive possibilities, it’s easy to see that lifts can be some of the most advanced shots in badminton.

Lifts as feeding shots

In terms of your ability to train, lifts are the most important shot in the game. Before you can practise any rearcourt shot, you need a partner (or coach) who can play good lifts!

The only alternative is to buy a shuttle-feeding machine. Although these have some use in coaching, they are prohibitively expensive and much less versatile than a skilful human feeder.

So remember: by practising your lifts together with a practice partner, your rearcourt practices also become more effective. This is one reason that coaches usually teach lifts early on: they are training the players to feed for each other.

Playing hand