I was unleashing powerful badminton forehand attacks on our opponents like it was an all-out war.
Drop shots, well-placed smashes—I threw everything I had at them.
… Nothing seemed to work.
In the end, I had to resort to a punch clear, hoping to force them out of position and regain control of the rally.
It became a stalemate.
Our opponents defended superbly, and just when I thought I had them cornered, they pulled off a late block that caught me completely off guard.
I hit the frame on the next shot, ending the rally in an anticlimactic way.
Despite the unsatisfying outcome, all four of us were left exhausted yet secretly happy to catch our breath.
When we reflect on which skills to improve in our game, we often default to focusing on the smash or addressing our weak backhand.
While these areas deserve attention, they won’t give us an advantage. As beginner or low-intermediate players, a simple tactic or two that we feel confident in often works wonders.
We tend to overcomplicate things because professional players make the flashy and challenging skills look effortless. But here’s the thing: there are other shots besides the jaw-dropping jump smash that can greatly enhance your game, even if you don’t master them to perfection.
In this article, I’ll look at an overview of all the forehand shots in badminton, along with the three that I’ve personally found particularly effective in my intermediate doubles games.
But first, let me tell you a story about something that caught me by surprise as I was testing and reviewing badminton rackets.
Earning more points with less work: using your badminton forehand beyond smashing
When I got back into playing badminton, I was all about smashing.
I loved it!
There’s something exhilarating about hitting a clean shot and sending the shuttle over the net so fast it looks like it’s on fire.
People from other countries even jokingly called me Viktor Axelsen. If you take a snapshot of his playing style, it’s easy to assume he’s just a one-hit smashing machine…
And you know what?
While he isn’t, that’s exactly how I played—one-dimensional, predictable badminton, with a preference for hammering anything and everything.
Looking back, I realized that smashing wasn’t always the easiest path to winning rallies. My skills were rusty, and I’d often lose unnecessary points by hitting the net. Smashing felt like a high-risk, high-return gamble.
I naively thought that if I developed a more powerful and accurate smash, I would win more rallies.
Little did I know that the more I focused on smashing, the more I needed to improve my footwork and stamina to stay well-positioned and avoid being caught off guard when the opportunity presented itself.
It was during a test of the Arcsaber 11 Play racket that I realized my smashing skills were actually poor.
I had relied heavily on the power of my previous racket, and now that it was gone, I had to find other ways to be effective. That’s when I discovered the value of getting creative, especially with the forehand shots I chose during rallies.
Compared to the high risk of hitting the net and losing the point while smashing, I found that playing safer variations of other shots allowed me to make fewer mistakes. Most other shots were easier to execute, and I could wait for a better opportunity to strike.
Smashing every lift in the game also became predictable, making it less effective as the matches progressed. After practicing smash drills for a while, I realized just how much practice is required to generate above-average power and make it challenging for my intermediate opponents to block the shot.
It turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
Playing with the Arcsaber 11 Play forced me to adjust my playing style and find other forehand shots to win rallies in my doubles games. The first thing I noticed was that I didn’t always need the perfect shot to win a rally, especially at the intermediate level. Often, if I was patient enough, my opponents would make mistakes and offer me an easy kill or a fault.
At the same time, strokes like drops and drives became essential parts of my arsenal. They allowed me to keep the rally going and maintain control.
Speaking of keeping the rally going, as social players, many of us care more about having an intense and challenging game against evenly-matched opponents than just winning outright. Keeping a tough rally alive is more fun than demolishing your opponents, and that requires a versatile game with a wide selection of shots.
By incorporating a wider range of strokes on my forehand side, I found that I won more rallies, made fewer errors that cost me points, and overall, had to make less of an effort on the court.
Counterintuitive, I know.
Initially, I considered clear shots a necessary evil. A bit boring even. But over time, they grew on me, and now, I can count on a flat attacking clear as a surefire way to score a handful of points in most games.
The 3 most underrated forehand shots in badminton
Now that I’ve shared my journey of transitioning from a smashing-focused player to a more versatile one, let’s dive into the world of badminton forehand shots.
I’ve compiled a comprehensive list of all the forehand shots in badminton. Based on my personal experience playing doubles at the intermediate level, I’ve rated each of these shots a 10-scale in terms of their usefulness and how much practice is required to reach a level where they are likely to be effective for you.
As you explore the table below, keep in mind that these ratings are subjective and based on my own gameplay. What works for me might not work for everyone, but I hope this serves as a reference for you to add new shots into your own game.
The key to becoming a well-rounded player is to experiment and find the shots that suit your style and bring success on the court.
|Badminton forehand shots||Easy to learn to a useful level||Impact in doubles games||Final score|
|Slice (and reverse slice)||2||4||6|
Now that we have an overview of the badminton forehand shots, let’s dive into three that I’ve found to be highly effective and easy to use.
One underrated forehand shot that I’ve come to rely on is the ‘attacking clear.’ It’s a sneaky move that catches opponents off guard and can help me score several unexpected points.
You won’t believe how many times my opponents thought the shot was going out, only to realize too late that it was actually in!
Another effective variation is sending a flat clear right down the middle, between both players as they’re standing side-by-side. It’s amazing how often they struggle to return it properly because they’re caught off balance or react too late.
The challenge with this shot is disguising it along with balancing hitting it far enough without overdoing it. You don’t want to smack it out of the court and give your opponents an easy point.
But when you get it right, this variation gives your opponents less time to react, and often either forces a weak return or makes them misjudge that the shuttle was out.
There’s another shot that I’ve grown to love on the forehand side—it’s the humble forehand push shot. It may seem simple, but don’t underestimate its effectiveness!
The idea is to push the shuttle right behind the front-court player, catching them off guard and forcing them into an unbalanced return. Sometimes, they even leave it for their rear-court partner, who ends up returning it late and with less power, resulting in a weak mid-court return.
This shot can be tricky because if your push is too weak or your opponent anticipates your placement, they might go for a quick return. The beauty is that it’s often difficult for them to make a big swing, which limits the speed of their return.
What makes this shot underrated is its simplicity.
You don’t need a ton of technical skill in the stroke itself, unlike some other shots in the game. That means you can focus more on the placement of your shot, and that’s where this little gem really shines.
Imagine that you manage to get your racket on a front-court shot early, and you play it past your opponent at the net. It’s challenging for them to quickly move backward without fumbling, especially since the quick preparation shot can look a bit like a net shot or a flat drive at first glance.
I’ve found that the magic in this shot lies in finding the right placement and using the right amount of power. Use too much, and you make it a piece of cake for the rear-court player to handle. Use too little, and it’s a walk in the park for the front-court player.
The drop shot is hands down the most versatile and useful attacking shot on the forehand side. It’s relatively easy to get good at (unlike smashing), and it’s a solid go-to when you find yourself in a tough spot on the rearcourt.
One of the reasons why I love it is that it exposes any poor recovery your opponent might have, if you follow up with a smash or clear on the next shot. If they are forced to lunge and lift even a relatively tight drop shot back, they’ll have to be quick if they don’t want to be caught off guard on the next shot.
I’ve found that setting up the attack by first playing a drop shot is highly effective. I used to think of myself as more of a smash-player, but then I started experimenting and realized that I could win more rallies by getting creative with combinations of, say, drop shots followed by smashing or clearing.
The drop shot is like a secret weapon that can catch your opponents off guard. It requires some finesse and control, but once you get the hang of it, it can be a game-changer.
- The smash is often the dominating forehand shot in badminton, but with the amount of practice it requires to use it with confidence consistently, you’re better off practicing several other shots. Many require less work and are used more often in doubles games
- One example is the simple push shot that you’ll often use without realizing it to set yourself up for a winning shot on the return
- The biggest benefit of using a variety of forehand shots is that you’ll be less predictable, meaning that your opponents will keep guessing as your game processes instead of figuring your game out