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How far back to stand when defending

Home > Shots > Midcourt > Smash defence > Basics > Position

The best place to defend from is slightly behind the middle of the court.

Most players stand too close

Players often defend from near the net, especially in doubles. This is much too far forwards. Standing this close makes it very difficult to react to a powerful smash.

Stand slightly behind the middle of the court. This gives you a lot more time to react. The difference is bigger than you might expect, due to how much the shuttle slows down as it travels.

It’s possible to stand too far back

You might be tempted to stand even farther back — say, on the doubles service line. Admittedly this would give you even more time to react, but it’s a bad idea. If the smash is steep, then it will fall too far in front of you, and you will be collapsing forwards.

Don’t forget about clears and drops!

Your opponent might not smash. You must be ready to cover both clears and drop shots.

This is another reason for standing slightly behind the middle of the court. From this position, you have good coverage for all three possible shots.

If you go too far forwards, a flat clear will get behind you; too far backwards, and you won’t reach a drop shot.

Plenty of players know the theory, but still get it wrong!

Despite understanding this idea, many players still habitually defend from too near the net.

This commonly happens because they lifted the shuttle from the net and failed to recover far enough. When you lift from the net, you have a long distance to cover before you reach a good defensive position, and most players don’t get there in time.

It’s easy to get stuck at the net. Here are the main causes:

  • You were too hesitant moving backwards
  • You were watching your shot instead of moving!
  • You were watching your opponent (trying to guess their shot?)
  • You were looking around to see where your doubles partner went

These are very common habits. But whatever the reason, you’ve left it too late to recover backwards, and you’re stuck at the front. Now you are at the mercy of a smash or even a clear.

Fix this by cultivating a sense of urgency. As soon as you lift from the net, start backpedaling into your defensive position. If you can make a habit of immediately recovering after your net lift, your defence will be much better.