As I sprinted towards my opponent with a ridiculous expression on my face and my racket held out like a superhero, I knew I was about to attempt the ultimate distraction against their badminton net kill.
Spoiler alert: it didn’t work.
But to everyone’s surprise, the shuttle hit my racket and bounced right back to their side, granting my partner and me an unexpected point.
The whole court erupted in laughter, even some of the spectators joined in.
But let’s be real, this kind of defending is a hail mary move, and it’s usually best to avoid it altogether.
In this article, I’ll explore the fascinating world of net kills in badminton. We’ll find out if it’s really as easy and satisfying as it looks for us intermediate players who haven’t mastered perfect technique.
I’ll also share strategies to help you earn more net kills while keeping them out of your opponent’s reach, and we’ll discover the surprising confidence boost it can give us.
Get ready for some net killer insights!
The badminton net kill: a “guaranteed” winner?
At first glance, the badminton net kill appears to be an easy and foolproof way to secure a point. But there’s more to it than meets the eye.
Before we delve into the details of this shot, let’s set the context and break down the situation we find ourselves in.
In net battles, players usually engage in tight net shots. But if your opponent adds too much power and the shuttle sits too high above the net, there’s an opportunity to go for the kill.
Here’s a real match example of a net kill where the Danish double (Mikkelsen/Søby) hit a net shot that’s not very tight and the shuttle sits a little high above the net. The Chinese double, (Zheng/Huang) quickly picks up on this and moves in with a kill shot that wins the point.
It happens again later in the game. This time, the Danish double moves in on a net kill. Notice how quick you have to be to react to a net kill opportunity as the window closes in just about a second. (You can follow this better if you set the playback to half speed.)
The key to executing a successful net kill is lightning-fast reaction time. If you miss the window of opportunity, you have just as good of a chance to net-kill yourself.
The three traps for intermediate players
When we spot the opportunity and position ourselves for a net kill, we often fall into three traps that can hinder our chances of winning the rally, despite the seemingly easy situation.
And that’s the sneaky deception of it all.
It appears so straightforward that we can’t possibly mess it up, right? Even our opponents expect us to succeed. Yet, if you’ve played for a while, I’m sure you’ve witnessed numerous situations where someone slams the shuttle into the net.
That’s the first trap: focusing solely on raw power and hitting the net with full force because it seems too easy.
The alternative, and the second trap, is exerting full power but keeping the shot above the net, causing the shuttle to fly out of bounds.
I can’t decide which is worse.
Actually, I can. It’s the third and final trap.
Just as you’re about to execute the kill shot, your opponent pulls off a “hail mary” move, holding up their racket, and unexpectedly, the shuttle hits it, flies back onto your side of the court, and leads to you losing the rally in a random turn of events that no one anticipated.
It doesn’t happen frequently, but it occurs often enough to make attempting it worthwhile. When I’m the one attempting the “hail mary” and it works, it feels AMAZING!
The only thing that rivals the thrill of these experiences in a net kill situation is when you try to be clever and let the shuttle slide down your racket, only for it to land on your own side of the court.
…Or better yet, when you attempt to play a casual “mini” drop shot that’s too slow, allowing your opponent to reach it in time and keep the rally going.
I’ve certainly been guilty of most of these embarrassing mistakes. I’ve found that the most effective approach is to remind yourself to resist the temptation of power and instead prioritize placement and control.
Even if you execute a medium-paced, average shot and your opponent manages to retrieve it, it often grants you another opportunity to try again. That’s far better than hitting the net (or sending it out of bounds), where you’re guaranteed to lose the rally.
That’s exactly what happens to me in this clip.
In fact, I’ve noticed that many opponents give up when they see you preparing for an easy net kill. So, even if you don’t go for it, acting as though you are and then holding back at the last moment can be surprisingly effective.
If you really don’t want to mess it up or prefer to maintain a friendly atmosphere rather than crushing your opponent in the second, you can opt for a simple soft midcourt shot, focusing on placement.
All of these suggestions serve as temporary solutions until you can train the badminton net kill shot to the point where you feel fully confident in your ability to execute it whenever the situation comes.
Speaking of getting into that situation, let’s explore how to avoid offering easy net kills to your opponent and how to earn them for yourself or your partner.
How to earn more net kills (and avoid giving them away to your opponents)
In order to create opportunities for a net kill or prevent your opponent from capitalizing on them, I’ve noticed two specific situations: a poor net shot and a slow drop shot.
I’ve already discussed the situation with a poor net shot in a previous section, so I won’t repeat myself. Essentially, it comes down to accurately predicting when your opponent will play a net shot, positioning yourself early, and ensuring that the net shot is high enough over the net cord for you to reach it without committing a fault.
While it may sound simple in theory, executing it in real-life situations can be challenging.
Now let’s focus on the slow drop shot.
We tend to play a slow drop when our opponents have lifted all the way to the backline and it doesn’t feel like a smash will be sufficient. Ideally, they are placed far back and will have to work to get close enough to the net to return the drop.
But there are times when we play a drop shot while our opponents are already close to the net or anticipate our move, allowing them to intercept the shuttle before it flies below the net cord. This can also occur on poor returns of serve or during other random mid-court, mid-air shots.
To earn a net kill, you need to think a few shots ahead. In a net duel, this often means playing one additional net shot before lifting, with the hope that your opponent will make a poor return.
When it comes to slow drop shots, it involves playing high-quality lifts that are difficult to smash. Your lifts should be placed as far back on the court as possible, making it challenging for your opponent to position themselves effectively for a smash.
Instead of lifting the shuttle back to the same location, try moving your opponent from side to side, aiming to catch them slightly off-guard and out of position when they play their drop shot.
The psychological aspect of the badminton net kill shot can play tricks on our minds and confidence if we make mistakes. In the next section, we will delve into the psychological challenges associated with the net kill and how to overcome them.
Let’s explore that next.
The psychology of not messing up the net kill and other easy shots
Making mistakes on easy shots like the net kill can have a significant impact on our confidence. Our mind starts questioning, “If we messed up something that easy, what else will we mess up?”
This loss of confidence can be detrimental, especially if it happens repeatedly throughout a game.
As a result, we may start doubting our smash and hitting the net more frequently, which only makes the issue worse and increases frustration. If you’ve been playing for a while, you’ve likely experienced this before.
In the worst-case scenario, this negative spiral takes hold and ruins our overall game, causing us to make mistakes that we wouldn’t normally make.
It’s a frustrating situation, and many of us attempt to fix it by striving to play even better and more perfect shots. We aim for shots that are perfectly on the line, but this approach is often a gamble because we haven’t drilled those skills enough to be confident in executing them.
As a consequence, it results in more unforced errors and further frustration.
Instead of taking that path, I’ve experimented with a different approach that has proven effective for me: shifting gears and playing simple shots that I know I can execute easily without getting into trouble. Gradually building up confidence within the same rally has been key.
Only you can determine how long it takes for you to regain confidence, but the more you work on it, the quicker your recovery will be.
This approach is especially powerful because, to be frank, the badminton net kill isn’t the most crucial skill to prioritize practicing for most of us. It doesn’t happen that often in rallies compared to other aspects of the game.
By focusing on playing simple shots that you are confident in executing, you can rebuild your confidence and regain control over your game. It’s a process that requires patience and practice, but it’s usually worth it.
A single mistake does not define your abilities as a player. Everyone makes errors, even on seemingly easy shots. The key is to gradually regain your confidence through consistent practice and focused play.
- The badminton net kill may appear easy and like a free point, but it can be deceptive. Hitting the net and losing confidence is a common pitfall. Be aware of this and approach the shot with focus and composure
- Making frequent mistakes on net kills can significantly impact the rest of your game. If you lack trust in your abilities and try too hard to compensate, it often leads to more unforced errors. Instead, focus on regaining confidence gradually and playing simple shots that you know you can execute well
- Defending against a net kill is challenging. The best approach is to prevent the situation from occurring in the first place. Stay alert to your opponent’s positioning, whether they are ready to capitalize on a poor net shot or anticipate your slow drop shot to move in for the kill