The Badminton Bible

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All original content copyright © Mike Hopley

What is the right grip for forehand net shots?

It’s a simple enough question, but I bet most players would get it wrong.

Of course, there are different types of net shot, and we know they can require different grips. For example, you can play overhand net shots, where the racket head is above the hand. In that case, we use a panhandle grip.

But what about a normal, straight net shot? You are taking the shuttle just slightly below the top of the net, with the racket head below the level of your hand. What grip would you use?

It’s not a panhandle grip, is it?

Let’s take that panhandle grip that we use for overhand net shots. Now just turn the hand over, and try to play a normal net shot.

It’s awkward. It feels uncomfortable, and you can’t get your racket into the right position. Clearly this panhandle grip is not suitable here.

What about a forehand grip?

If you know about badminton technique, then you probably think the answer is obvious: you should play forehand net shots with a forehand grip.

Are you sure? I know that’s probably what you’ve been taught. But it’s definitely not what I do, and I’m pretty sure it’s not what the pros do either.

I start with a forehand grip, yes — or even a basic grip. Then I play the shot.

But before I hit the shuttle, the grip changes — to a panhandle grip. This grip change happens during the preparation for the shot, as the hand is turning out and the wrist is bending back.

A forehand grip doesn’t work here

We are taking the shuttle early, when it has only dropped a little below net height. In this case, the forehand grip gives you the wrong angle to play the shot. The racket is facing straight up, when it needs to be pointing a bit forwards.

To make your net shot work with this grip, you are forced to take it much later, or to use an awkward hitting action (bending yourself around the shot).

By allowing the grip to change to a panhandle, you can take the shuttle early, while controlling how much the racket faces forwards.

But that contradicts what you said earlier!

Yes, I said something about not being able to use a panhandle grip.

But these two panhandle grips are not the same. There are subtle differences, mainly in the angle of the racket — or you could say, in the amount of panhandle.

And it works the other way around too. Even though both grips are panhandle, it feels wrong to take the one from my normal net shot and use it for my overhand net shot.

This is an example of how grip names are not really adequate for describing grip techniques. You can’t always know everything about a grip and how it is used just from the name.

It’s also an example of how the grip can change during the stroke or the preparation.