In singles, lifts are not just for defence: you can use them to place your opponent under huge movement pressure, thereby forcing a weak reply.
Using lifts defensively
Lifts are an excellent way to neutralise your opponent’s advantage.
If you are in trouble, try to play a high lift to the centre (not to a corner). This gives you time to recover and limits your opponent’s shot angles, thereby blunting his attack.
Using lifts to create an attack
If you have forced your opponent into the forecourt, then you can apply movement pressure by playing a lift.
This can be effective even if your intention is obvious, but it’s much more damaging when your opponent is uncertain what shot you are about to play.
Combining lifts with net shots
Lifts are most damaging when you are in position to play a tight net shot.
Let’s suppose that, after your opponent’s net shot, you take the shuttle early and near the tape. You are now in position to play a tight spinning net shot.
Your opponent is compelled to cover the most dangerous shot — the tight net shot. This tempts him to move in nearer the net, which makes your lift much more damaging.
In this situation, you should play the lift shallow, not high; this deprives him of time, and causes the maximum damage. It should be just high enough to prevent him from intercepting it from his forecourt position.
Straight or cross-court?
Whereas cross-court clears carry a substantial risk of being intercepted, this is less likely with lifts. This means that cross-court lifts are safer than cross-court clears and can be played more often.
If your opponent just played a net shot, then he will be in the forecourt area and is unlikely to intercept your lifts. If he just played a straight smash, then he will not have recovered enough towards his central base to intercept a cross-court lift.
A cross-court lift is not always a safe shot, however. If your opponent just played a cross-court smash, then a cross-court lift should be the last thing on your mind! You will be returning the shuttle to your opponent and practically begging him to play a straight smash.
In order to make your opponent move the farthest distance, you can play cross-court lifts after his straight shots, and straight lifts after his cross-court shots. If you want to exploit his agility more than his raw speed, however, you could reverse the formula: match his straight shots with straight lifts, and his cross-court shots with cross-court lifts.
As with clears, lifting to your opponent’s backhand is a good tactic. It may be a crude tactic, but it works; if in doubt, lift to his backhand.