All original content copyright © Mike Hopley
The technique for playing a basic, straight net shot is easy to learn. Even complete beginners can pick it up quickly.
You might be tempted to skip past this page, being eager to learn more glamorous variations such as cross-court or spinning net shots. Wait! You must get the basic technique right, or your
advanced shots will never work.
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Net shots are delicate and sensitive. You don’t need any power, but you do need exquisite
touch — the ability to control the shuttle precisely.
Your fingertips are the most sensitive part of your hand. For net shots, therefore, you should hold the racket in your fingertips, with a larger gap in your palm than for other shots.
Your posture is crucial when playing a net shot. Make a balanced lunge forwards with your right foot, so that you can reach forwards to take the shuttle early. Try to keep as balanced as possible, with your arms positioned over your legs.
Sometimes on the backhand side, when you only have a short distance to lunge, it’s faster to lunge with your left foot (because it takes time to turn your body for a right-footed lunge). This commonly happens in doubles net play.
Your racket should be well in front of you. You should be at full relaxed reach: you’re reaching forwards, but there’s still a slight bend at your elbow.
The racket frame should be oriented horizontally. Imagine you are going to post the racket into a letterbox!
Bend your wrist so that the racket head is below your hand. This angles the racket slightly forwards, which is necessary to make the shuttle pass over the net.
It’s easy to forget about the left arm, since it’s not actually hitting the shuttle.
To play a good net shot, however, you must maintain excellent balance. Use your left arm as a counter-balance against your right, by raising it out behind you.
The timing of your arm movements should be together. As you raise your right arm and move it forwards, do the same thing with your left arm — except that the left arm goes backwards, not forwards. Notice that this also keeps your left arm balanced over your left leg.
If you are making a left-footed lunge on the backhand side, however, you need to use the left arm differently. Instead of raising your left arm behind you (as you normally would), you will get better balance by moving it out to your left.
For an accurate net shot, you must be able to see what you’re doing. Adjust your posture so that your eyes are near the same height as the shuttle. The idea is to help you watch three different things at (roughly) the same time:
At the instant you hit the shuttle, your focus must be on the shuttle (and not on your opponent or the net). Nevertheless, being able to see the net better will help you play an accurate shot (it improves your spatial awareness), and being aware of your opponent’s position will help you choose the right shot (it improves your tactical awareness).
This doesn’t mean that your eyes must be at exactly the same height as the shuttle. Normally, your eyes will be slightly higher than the shuttle.
Players commonly get this wrong when the shuttle is near the ground. Because it’s more comfortable, they stay upright. This means that their eyes are much higher than the shuttle, and consequently they are looking down at the floor as they play a net shot.
Instead, they should make a deeper lunge. This gets their body (and eyes) lower down. This way, while they are looking at the shuttle, they are also looking forwards towards the net, and not down at the floor.
As you are travelling to the shuttle, keep your racket in a comfortable
neutral position — pointing towards neither the forehand nor the backhand. Then, as you approach the shuttle, reach your racket forwards and turn your hand outwards (for forehands) or inwards (for backhands).
Forehand net shots are
palm up — as though putting out your hand for money!
Backhand net shots are
knuckles up — as though offering your hand to be kissed!
Make sure that you get your racket into position before hitting the shuttle. Do not bring the racket upwards to meet the shuttle; the racket should already be there!
The hitting action should be a gentle push. Do not flick the wrist! The wrist should stay still (or very nearly still) throughout this shot. Your whole arm, from shoulder to fingertips, should feel as though it’s one piece; in other words, keep the movement to a minimum.
Your push will be softer or firmer, depending on how near the shuttle is to the net. Sometimes, if the shuttle is right next to the net tape, you just let it bounce off the racket strings without pushing it at all.
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