I noticed the shuttle flying in a nice arch, and in a split second, I made my decision: it was time to send this bird into the ground with a badminton smash.
I took a small step back, and launched off the ground and into the air. My body was rotating: my legs, my hips, and my forearm…
It felt like slow motion. I hit the shuttle like a hammer on a nail, at full force…
Only to send it into the net!
It was anticlimactic, and it felt like the millionth time that happened.
The smash shot in badminton is especially powerful in singles, where we often see it as THE point-winning shot. In doubles, it doesn’t happen as often unless on the second or third consecutive smash in a row.
In this clip, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy is smashing but is still required to follow up in order to finish his opponent off.
He currently holds the Guinness world record for the fastest smash, although that is performed in a controlled test environment and not during a competitive game.
This shot is among the most difficult strokes to perform and requires loads of practice to perfect. Especially, because performing a good shot during practice isn’t the same as doing it when you’re under pressure in a match.
It’s also among the most difficult shots to learn through an online article like this one. There are many small nuances that help generate the power, rather than just using the shoulder to move your arm when hitting the shuttle.
I feel that you won’t gain anything if I point out what you need to do on an intellectual level in order to have a powerful smash.
To make this practical and useful for you, I’ll instead dive into the pros and cons of the different styles of badminton smash. That way, you can get a sense of which ones you’ll get the most use out of without doing drills for hours if you’re a low intermediate doubles player.
While my own smash has a lot of room for improvement, I’ve found a few things that are easy to implement during casual sessions if you’re looking for improvements. I’ve prepared a separate article on the jump smash, if you’re interested in that as well.
The 4 styles of badminton smash: your best bet for securing points in real games
There are four styles of smash in badminton: the standard on-the-ground smash, jump smash, stick smash, and half smash.
Each one has its benefits, but it usually comes down to wanting more power or precision. For example, a classic standard smash at full power will be less precise than a stick smash or a half smash. On the other hand, those will be more effective if you’re looking to place the shuttle out of your opponent’s reach.
Many of us casual players aren’t able to prioritize training strokes as much as we’d like. I’ve prepared this diagram comparing the different styles of smash, their pros and cons, along with notes on how easy it’ll be for you to take advantage of despite limited training.
|Badminton Smash Styles Comparison|
|Full power smash|
|Pros||Can score points by overwhelming the opponent with power or be hard to return if it hits the opponent’s body|
|Cons||Offers a high chance of error (hitting the net)|
|Requires loads of drilling to get confident and increase power|
|Not difficult to block unless very powerful|
|Less precise than other types of smash|
|Requires good positioning and can be tempting to attempt even when out of position|
|Can be hard to perform with enough power without a ultra head heavy/powerful racket|
|Stick smash||Pros||A precise smash near the sides can be highly effective|
|Can be steeper and more useful near the mid- or frontcourt|
|Doesn’t require as much practice in order to use effectively|
|Cons||Easy to block if hit near the opponent|
|Half smash||Pros||Often gives a great balance between power and precision|
|Doesn’t require as much practice in order to use effectively|
|Cons||Fairly easy to block if hit near the opponent|
The biggest issue I’ve found with improving your smash is how difficult it is to practice. You can’t practice it on your own, so you need another player (or a machine) to feed you at the bare minimum.
Online material isn’t that useful either as you don’t have someone correcting your posture and movement in real time. Without that, we can only make minor improvements on our own, especially when it comes to the full power smash.
Intellectually understanding what to do and actually doing it correctly are two different worlds.
Combine that with the number of times you actually win points directly on your smash in casual doubles games, and it’s hard to argue for investing your limited time in it.
With that in mind, there’s a strong case for working on your half smash and stick smash confidence before the full power smash.
To make this practical, I’ve prepared some small tweaks that improved the power in my badminton smash without requiring a crazy amount of practice.
Steal these if you’re looking for quick gains, but don’t expect to become the next Viktor Axelsen!
4 easy tweaks to improve your badminton smash
When it comes to smashing, timing is everything. It’s the hardest thing to improve and these small tweaks will not make up for that.
While practicing drills is the most effective way to improve your game over the long term, I bet these tweaks will offer you quick results.
1. Standing sideways to gain rotational power
I’ve noticed being able to time my smash better and get my entire body to help produce power from the feet, to the hip, shoulder, and forearm, by tweaking my stand.
Instead of standing facing your opponent when hitting the shuttle, stand sideways and rotate into the shot so that you can take advantage of that rotation to generate power that is then transferred onto the shuttle.
You’ll have to stand more sideways than you think. If this feels unnatural at first, you’re probably doing it right.
Not only will this increase your power, but it’ll also help you avoid overusing your shoulder in an attempt to generate more power. That can often lead to fatigue or even pain.
You’ll also signal to your opponent that you are about to smash.
If you’re able to hold back at the last second and turn it into a disguised drop shot, I bet you’ll hit several winners during your games. When players see a smash is coming, they often take a step back in preparation which leaves them vulnerable at the front court.
Keeping the non-racket arm held high as you begin the movement can help remind you to stand sideways as it feels weird to do in the normal stance.
2. Use the hip to generate more power
Using the hip to help generate power takes a little while to get used to. It’s easy to overdo, but combined with the tweak above, it’ll give you that extra bit of power.
Tobias Wadenka describes it well here:
3. Avoid the temptation to smash
This item will be difficult to adhere to at first, but will bring out more quality in your smashes while reducing hits in the net.
It’s simple: smash less!
Far too often, we get tempted to smash when we are out of balance, under pressure, or just a little too late to get a clean shot.
In that case, play a clear shot or drop shot. You might get another chance on the follow up.
4. Use less force and power
The absolute worst thing that can happen with a badminton smash is that it hits the net. You can fix that by practicing your timing over and over again, but a faster solution is to trade a bit of the smash power for precision.
When playing around with this myself, I’ve found that I hit more winners due in part to fewer errors. I’ve also noticed that I often don’t need as much power to produce a winner, as expected (especially if you’re able to hit the body or backhand of your opponent).
The hack most players use to increase their badminton smash power
There is another hack that most players use. It doesn’t come without its downsides, which is why I wanted to offer the technical suggestions first.
If you want to get access to more smash power instantly, get a racket with more head weight, restring your racket with more repulsive strings, increase the string tension, or all three.
If you’ve never changed the strings on your racket, I figure you don’t know the tension. You’ll gain an easy boost by restringing it right away as factory strings tend to be horrible and strung at low tensions. It’s also the most affordable item to change.
You can get more details in this article on badminton strings, but you’ll likely be happy getting the Yonex BG80 strung at 10 KG (22 lbs) for your smash power.
This is still a fairly low string tension compared to many others, but the higher the tension, the more cleanly you’ll need to hit it as the sweet spot becomes smaller. It takes some experimentation to find your preferences.
I mentioned some downsides to getting a racket with more power, so let’s dive into those before we look at the pros.
The biggest issue is that if you have a very head-heavy, powerful racket with repulsive strings and high tension already, you can’t take advantage of this hack.
If you switch to a highly head-heavy racket, your racket will swing slower which often affects defense. Especially softer shots will be more difficult to control and it’ll take some getting used to.
As confusing as this may sound, that isn’t entirely a bad thing.
I’ve found that one of the most fun things about a powerful racket is blocking smashes. Often you don’t have to use much “whip” and just by letting the shuttle hit the racket, it’ll bounce off and sail right over the net nicely.
I’ve also noticed being later on the shuttle and still whipping it back over the net with less effort. That makes the game more fun if your stamina isn’t athlete-level, as you’ll need to use less effort when you’re tired.
Depending on the speed of the shuttles you use, you might find, that the biggest difference to your game will be holding back on the power instead of generating it.
It’s a fun idea but it takes a while to get used to. You’ll hit many shots out of the court until you’re able to adjust.
- The full-power badminton smash often isn’t worth indulging in until you can set aside enough time and effort to practice it properly
- There are a few tweaks that are easy to make and will increase your power slightly, but for most of us casual doubles players, we are better off with stick smashes and half smashes focusing on precision and placement over full power in the name of winning rallies
- The perhaps easiest hack for more smash power is changing your strings, tension, and racket