The Badminton Bible


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New grips content out, still more to do

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Posted 6 years ago

I’ve released several new videos about grips:

  • An introduction video (replacing the old one)
  • New videos for forehand, panhandle, partial panhandle, thumb, neutral, and bevel grips
  • Replaced the backhand grip video

I have also removed the old grips article. Much of the content was not that useful and has been cut. However, the section on adjusting your grip had useful content, so I’ve preserved those pages outside the article. We don’t have any videos on them yet.

What about the basic grip?

I have removed the video for the basic grip, because I no longer teach this grip. Instead, I am teaching a traditional forehand grip and a neutral grip. This also creates some inconsistency with older videos; I will try to note this on each page.

The situation is a little complex. At some point I might make a video to explain things better. In the meantime, here’s a long and rambling explanation:

History and changes

Badminton England is still teaching the basic grip, so it might seem like we are at odds. In reality, the differences between what I teach and what they teach are really very small. It’s mostly a matter of emphasis and pedagogical approach, as opposed to a technical disagreement. There are some things that they said many years ago that I now disagree with, such as using the basic grip for many backhands (I feel this leads to a floppy backhand, because the thumb is not used correctly). These ideas came about around 2007, when BE was making a big change in their grips teaching. These same ideas had a big influence on my grips article.

However, their latest official grips teaching is very good. This is shown in the current level one coaching manual. Unfortunately, this manual is not available to the public and I don’t think I’m allowed to share it with you.

Badminton England have used the basic grip as both the main grip for forehand overheads, and as a waiting grip for changing quickly to other grips. I believe that is still in line with their current ideas. In my current teaching, those two roles are filled by two different grips: the traditional forehand grip, and the neutral grip (which is essentially the basic grip, just with a different name). Using the forehand grip has the advantage that it’s very easy to learn, as it’s dead-centre on the handle; this also provides a useful reference point for learning the other grips. I also think it’s a better default grip for overhead forehands.

I am also teaching more grips than Badminton England does. That doesn’t mean they don’t recognise such grips, simply that they don’t give them a name — preferring to have fewer grips and therefore make it easier to learn all the grips. However, I find it useful to have a few more named grips, especially for my instructional website content.

It’s important to keep these things in perspective. We are talking about small differences in how the grips are taught. I have to teach what I personally think is best, and what I have found most effective in my own coaching. I also don’t like the name basic grip, because I feel it’s at odds with the core message of Badminton England’s grips teaching! To be fair though, it’s hard to choose good grip names. For example, I’m using forehand and backhand grip names, which could (wrongly!) imply that these are the only grips to use for forehand or backhand shots. I was very tempted to invent new names for these, like overhead grip (forehand) and partial thumb grip (backhand). But it seemed best to use the commonly recognised names instead.

As you can see, it’s easy to get in a tangle with grips teaching! I thought long and hard about making these changes, trying to balance different concerns. I was reluctant to depart from Badminton England’s terminology; it even felt a bit arrogant! Was I in danger of creating confusion by inventing my own system? But then again, this website has an international audience, so I tried to stick to grip names that are more widely recognised worldwide (hence forehand grip and backhand grip).

Keep it in perspective

When you focus on these small differences, you tend to miss the bigger picture: these grips are a starting point for players to learn. We need some standard grips with recognisable names, because it’s helpful for teaching. But once players move beyond a beginner level, they should be moving away from rote learning of grips, and instead developing a fluid and instinctive sense for how the racket should be held. That means making lots of small adjustments to how they hold the racket, without even consciously thinking about it. The grip should be adjusted to suit the rally situation.

The new level one coaching manual from Badminton England is excellent at making this point. It emphasises a continuum of grips, with the angle being adjusted according to the shuttle position. I am trying to do something similar with my new grips content.