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The four types of badminton serve

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There are four types of badminton serve: low serve, high serve, flick serve, and drive serve.

The angle of these serves can also be varied: straight, wide, or at the receiver.

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Types of serve

Low serve

The low serve is played gently over the net to land at the front of your opponent’s service court, near the short service line. It’s important that this serve passes low over the net (hence the name low serve).

The low serve is used in both singles and doubles. In doubles, the low serve is used more frequently than any other serve.

High serve

The high serve is played powerfully upwards, so that the shuttlecock travels very high and falls almost vertically downwards at the back of the receiver’s service court. High serves are used frequently in singles, but never in doubles (at a high standard of play).

The high serve can only be played with a forehand action. Unlike the other three serves, you just won’t get enough power from a backhand to play a good high serve.

Flick serve

The flick serve is also played upwards, but much more shallowly than the high serve. The idea is to deprive the opponent of time, forcing him to hit the shuttlecock when it’s behind his body.

Flick serves are used extensively in doubles, and occasionally in singles.

Drive serve

The drive serve is played flat and fast towards the back of the receiver’s service court, passing low over the net. The idea is to provoke an immediate reaction, hoping that the receiver will mishit the shuttlecock. Drive serves are a gamble: if your opponent is too slow, then you will win the point immediately; but if he reacts quickly enough, then you are likely to lose.

Drive serves are almost never used by professional players, because their opponents are quick enough to counter-attack the serve consistently. At low levels of play, drive serves are used extensively by competitive players, because many opponents are unable to handle them.

In particular, drive serves are favoured by strong junior players (around the age of 13), who enjoy getting cheap points. Drive serves are mainly used in doubles, because the receiver stands farther forwards than in singles.

Direction of serve

Each of these serves can be played with different angles: straight, wide, or at the receiver.

Serving straight

A straight serve is directed down the centre line. This is especially effective for low serves.

Serving wide

A wide serve is directed towards the outer side lines. Wide serving is used most often in doubles, where the court is wider and the server can aim for somewhere in the tramlines.

Some wide serves, especially backhands, are technically difficult and require extra practice.

Serving at the receiver

This is mainly useful for low serves, where the receiver may be unsure whether to play a forehand or backhand reply.