Which badminton stereotype are you? (I’m #8)


The gods of creativity got to me and I felt like creating something different than what I’ve often been writing on the blog.

If you’ve played badminton for a while, I bet you’ve noticed certain habits in some players.

The more I match up with different players, the more I realize how many of us fall into certain buckets with particular strengths and weaknesses. If you’re able to notice these early on in your games, you might find yourself able to beat your opponents with less effort as being adaptable is among the most powerful characteristics of any player.

This is meant as a humorous take on different characters you’ve come across during social games. Read on to see if you can recognize them (and leave a comment with the one you’re most like).

The stereotypes you’ll meet in badminton

First, let me show you an overview of the ten badminton player stereotypes I’ll cover. Each one has its own distinct characteristics. Which one are you?

  1. The smasher
  2. The rallier
  3. The sports fanatic
  4. The superstar uncle
  5. The athletic tournament player
  6. The child prodigy
  7. The uncle who never improves
  8. The goalkeeper
  9. The coach
  10. The gearhead

1. The smasher

The first stereotype I’d like to introduce you to is the smasher.

As the name suggests, this player loves a good power smash as much as the rest of us. The difference is that they indulge in their addiction at any chance they get. In your next game against this player, try lifting or clearing and count the number of times they smash compared to playing other shots.

Inexperienced players might feel nervous when up against this player’s smash. That expectation is one of the powerful elements of their playing style more so than their actual shot due to the number of times they cause faults.

Smashing as a surefire way to win rallies is a myth. While they do win points and rarely get a clean hit returned, many shots hit the net, causing a fault, and leading to frustration. That frustration leads to trying harder, which leads to more failed attempts.

This is one surefire path to self-destruction and one weakness that this stereotype often inflicts upon themselves. Another is their lack of ability to adapt if you stop setting up their smash by, say, playing more at the net instead of lifting. They will remind you of a deer in headlights and get stuck.

One thing is certain though: you’ll be playing short rallies against this player.

2. The rallier

The rallier can come across as the opposite player of the smasher. They enjoy playing longer rallies to stretch their opponents thin and drain them for energy.

You’ll find them playing fewer rally-ending shots, like a full power smash, and instead patiently balancing a wider variety of shots and tactical combinations to build the rally while waiting for their opportunity. This approach often leads them to have more time to anticipate their opponent’s next moves and play an intelligent-looking game as a result.

I’ve noticed this stereotype being skilled at avoiding the temptation of the ‘perfect shot’. Playing that perfect shot to get out of a difficult situation is something most of us feel the need to do when under pressure. The problem is that we’re often relying on luck to pull it off, and when we push our luck too far, we tend to end up losing the rally.

This stereotype’s playing style tends to be less suitable for exciting highlight reels despite winning more points over the course of an entire match. Simply getting the shuttle back over the net and letting their opponent cause faults can be an effective strategy.

This player’s strength is also their weakness and they’ll extend rallies in situations where being cynical and finishing their opponent off would earn them more points. Instead, they (perhaps accidentally) let their opponent back into the rally and they turn the table to put this character under pressure.

3. The sports fanatic

You can recognize the sports fanatic by their toned upper body muscles that often aren’t relevant for badminton. 

This player tends to participate in workouts and many different sports rather than doubling down on one. As a result, they are fit and have a good stamina baseline resulting in more energy than most casual opponents. That means they have no issue keeping up if they’re being moved around the court, even during long rallies… 

Provided that they didn’t skip leg day at the gym.

You’ll find that this player tends to be strong in recovery between games and stretched-out movements like deep lunges due to training the relevant muscles at the gym regularly.

At the lower levels where technical skills are less important, this player has a meaningful advantage due to naturally good hand-eye coordination skills and lots of energy. Despite that, they are no match for opponents with tactical and technical skills as they don’t know how to get out of situations where they are under pressure consistently.

Often this stereotype sees badminton as a great workout rather than having an interest in being the world’s best player.

4. The child prodigy

It’s a running joke that many Asian kids are child prodigies in badminton.

If you’ve played with Asian players, I bet you’ve experienced this: someone brought their child to a session and you don’t think much of it at first. After all, it’s a fun sight to see a child play with a badminton racket that’s too long for their limbs.

But after a few games, you realize that they’re shockingly skilled despite their age.

Being a child with seemingly unlimited energy and decent technical skills can pose a bigger challenge than expected, even if their footwork isn’t amazing (yet).

As you’re up against this stereotype, you’ll realize that this might not be as easy as first assumed during doubles games, when paired with an experienced partner who is tactically skilled and can direct them around the court. 

The embarrassment of losing to someone so much younger may be real.

While the child prodigy comes with surprising skills for their age, they aren’t without weaknesses. They tend to be among the easier players to frustrate and stress out as they haven’t worked on tactical skills and controlling their minds just yet.

5. The superstar uncle

At first sight, this uncle looks like a retiree who’s just passing time, but don’t let that fool you. They might have been a child prodigy in their youth, but never made it to the pro leagues. If you’re open-minded and interested in improving your game, they can become a great asset as a partner during doubles games.

You’ll notice strong anticipation, technical, and tactical skills that catch naive opponents off guard.

They’ll easily spot the gaps on court, notice your handedness and their first test will be to the far corner of your backhand or during the serve on the side where they are closer to your backhand (the right-hand side for right-handed players).

You’ll find yourself getting ahead early in the game against this player while they look for weaknesses to exploit. This makes their opponents feel as if they have to play the perfect shot to win causing many faults and frustration along the way.

While some players in this category move well for their age, you’ll find them careful of injuries and as such they don’t bother with long rallies moving between corners too much. Instead, they tend to be strong in serves, return of serves, and other similar tools that allow them to keep rallies short while winning plenty of points.

You have an advantage if you can see through their tricks and move them around the corners as they’ll quickly get tired. They’ll smell what you’re up to, but in sports, there isn’t much you can do against moving around unless they’re partnering with a younger player like the ‘sports fanatic’ or ‘child prodigy’.

If you’re up against this player during club night or drop-in sessions where they don’t play with a fixed partner, you’ll find that they struggle more as there are only so many tactical plays you can make if their partner isn’t quick to catch on and follow up. 

That means you can predict certain patterns they have, like playing a certain shot expecting that you’ll return it to them so they are ready to follow up (like a smash down the line followed by recovery to the net).

6. The athletic tournament player

The athletic tournament player is generally the most challenging player to be up against as they’re strong all around the court in movement, strokes, tactical skills, and reading the game.

It can feel like their defense is impenetrable as they send everything back over the net while being ready to attack when given the opportunity. Combining that with solid stamina makes you wonder how to beat them.

If you keep an open mind, you’ll eventually notice windows of opportunity where they get frustrated and make mistakes. You see, they tend to be more serious than the average player you’ll meet. 

Being annoyed with their own performance and trying harder and harder to correct it makes them their own worst enemy. If they get too far ahead on the scoreboard, they might relax too much and be unable to get back in the zone when you do catch up.

This is your opportunity.

These insights might not be enough to win the game, but it can help you keep up hope during games where you feel far behind.

7. The uncle who never improves

This stereotype is highly experienced and it feels like they’ve been playing since the dawn of time, yet they don’t seem to ever improve. You’d think that they would improve just from being on court as much as they have, but somehow it’s hard to notice.

They tend to play badminton as an exercise to stay fit and be part of the community rather than improving their skills. You’ll notice a few go-to tricks that surprise most players who are up against them for the first time, like a skilled return of serve or cross net shot.

As such, they don’t move around the court too much and you won’t have trouble winning if you take advantage of this. They tend to play shots that keep the rally alive for the social aspect rather than winning every point like it’s a tournament.

8. The goalkeeper

This player is crazy on the front court. If you watch football (soccer), you might notice the resemblance between a goalkeeper and this player.

They are quick on their feet and will go toe-to-toe with you in net duels seemingly no matter how many lunges are required to have the shuttle hit the floor on your side of the net. At the same time, they’re disciplined with fundamentals like keeping their racket up, ready to block your midcourt shots.

You’ll find them annoyingly effective at intercepting your shots when their rear-court partner is pinned down in order to buy time. They tend to win rallies by causing opponents to fumble, executing an easy net kill, or earning a lift that their partner can attack.

On the other hand, their quick reactions and soft touch can become weaknesses at the rear-court. Moving them further back can pose a threat if their hard-hitting rear-court partner gets stuck at the net and struggles to control the shuttle in the same way.

9. The coach

You’ll be hard-pressed to figure out what the strengths of the coach are as they’re busy with their signature move: correcting their partner mid-game. 

While it might be well-intended, it feels distracting and counterproductive if you’re on the receiving end trying to focus and play well. 

Some players within this stereotype take a supportive approach, whereas others struggle to control their annoyance which can cause their partner to play even worse if their skills already aren’t amazing. If you’re participating in regular open court sessions or club nights, I’m sure you’ve come across both variations of this player type.

If you’re looking to improve your game, seeking this player out for advice can be a useful component in your training provided that you’re comfortable with the way they express themselves.

As such, both their weakness and strength comes in their chemistry with their partner as they can improve their partner’s game or weaken it and destroy their own in the process.

If you find yourself up against this stereotype in doubles games, playing shots that cause confusion and annoyance will be effective. That could be by hitting right between the players.

10. The gearhead

The gearhead spends more energy on their gear than their on court skills and often plays with a racket that requires better technical skills than they have. That might be a beginner or an intermediate player using Viktor Axelsen’s racket.

One giveaway is that they cause plenty of faults from mistimed shots and this weakness along with switching gear all the time, never allows them to dial in their technique. Playing a patient game, and waiting for them to make mistakes will make for a straightforward win.

On the other hand, if they’re able to stay disciplined with gear like their rackets and strings, they’ll discover equipment that actually supports their skills rather than hinder them. That makes for a useful asset for other players looking to figure out what’s up or down in the jungle of badminton gear.

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