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If I asked you now, what’s the most important shot in singles (other than the serve)? What would your answer be? Many might say the smash because it’s fast, exciting and by its nature is an attacking shot. And that’s what you want right? But the net shot in singles is far more important than this.

What Is The Net Shot?

For those who are new to badminton terminology, the net shot is demonstrated below. This is the forehand side but the principle also applies to the backhand side. It’s playing a shot in the forecourt that lands in your opponent’s forecourt.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=yJ5zO0T9jgk%3Fversion%3D3%26enablejsapi%3D1%23038%3Brel%3D1%26showsearch%3D0%26showinfo%3D1%26iv_load_policy%3D1%26fs%3D1%26hl%3Den-GB%26autohide%3D2%26wmode%3Dtransparent

There are several varieties of net shots. These include straight net shots, cross-court net shots, tumbling net shots and hairpin net shots. But no matter which variety is played, the objective is still the same.

Why The Net Shot Is The Most Important Shot In Singles

There are a number of reasons that the net shot is the most important shot in badminton. Let’s have a look at the reasons below:

Satisfies Basic Aim Of Badminton Singles

No shot in badminton would be effective if it didn’t achieve the basic principle of badminton singles. In singles, the general aim is to move the opponent out of their base position in order to create open space on the court for you to play into or force them to be late onto the shuttle, therefore creating weak replies which can be punished.

The net shot can achieve both these.

  • Creates space by forcing your opponent into the frontcourt in order to retrieve the shuttle. This creates space in the rear court.
  • Forces opponents to be late onto the shuttle if they are recovering from a shot in the rear court. For example, they just played a cross-court drop, you play a net shot in return. They have to travel the full diagonal length of the court in order to reach that shuttle. It’s likely they will be late to it.

Allows You To Control The Rally

What we mean by being in control of a rally is that you can comfortably play your game while making your opponent work harder to retrieve your shots. This makes it difficult for them to take back the initiative because they’re always chasing the shuttle.

Lee Chong Wei plays a net shot in singles.
Lee Chong Wei plays a net shot vs Lin Dan

This control can be achieved by using the net as above. By exploiting gaps in the front court left by your opponent, or even by returning their net shot when they’ve backed off expecting a lift. The more you can delay your opponent’s movements and shots, the less time they have to react and the more in control you’ll be.

One of the ways net shots achieve this is by attempting to force a weak lift. Let’s assume you’ve played a very good tight net shot. The opponent lifts the shuttle but it’s a short lift. Now you have control. Because the lift is short they have little time to react to whatever shot you play.

While you might argue a clear can also be attacked, the opponent is much more likely to play a weak lift than a weak clear. Therefore the net shot is much more effective at creating these opportunities.

Creates Winning Opportunities

Similarly to the above weak lifts as the result of a good net shot will mean you have an opportunity to finish the rally. This will generally take the form of a smash or deceptive drop. Even if the opponent manages to return this shot, it is likely that this could be that this will be a weak return, giving you a chance to follow up and kill the rally off.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/wW8oUlaDxmE?version=3&enablejsapi=1#038;rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en-GB&autohide=2&wmode=transparentLin Dan eventually forces a weak reply from Lee Chong Wei!

Not only does it create winning opportunities through achieving weak lifts from the opponent, but it also creates winning opportunities at the front of the court. When a tight net shot is played or a tumbling net shot, it makes it difficult to play a net shot in return. This is because

  • The shuttle is so tight to the net, you have to be careful not to touch the net.
  • The spin on a tumbling net shot means the opponent has to wait for the shuttle to stop spinning before they can play their shot.

What this means is that if the opponent replies with a net shot, it might be looser and this gives you the ability to finish the rally off with a net kill. The better your net shot, the more you can prepare yourself to play the net kill. But be aware, that very skilled opponents will be able to control their net shots with amazing precision and return even very tight net shots well.

Winning Shot

While it should be seen primarily as a set piece, fairly often, the net shot is a winning shot in itself. Often the shuttle can clip the net and tumble over making it virtually impossible to return. Now, of course, that’s not to say it isn’t possible! The video below proves that! However, more often than not, net shots which catch the net cord will be a winning shot.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=12ABwOzniQk%3Fversion%3D3%26enablejsapi%3D1%23038%3Brel%3D1%26showsearch%3D0%26showinfo%3D1%26iv_load_policy%3D1%26fs%3D1%26hl%3Den-GB%26autohide%3D2%26start%3D180%26wmode%3Dtransparent

Deception

While deception should be the last thing on your mind while learning the net shot, it has an important role to play! The net shot is one of the areas of badminton which has the greatest capabilities for deception. This is because the approach to a net shot looks almost identical to a lift if you have enough time on the shuttle. This can cause opponents to overcommit to moving towards your net shot, giving you the opportunity to flick the shuttle over them. This is referred to as the hold and flick, which is especially common in netplay in singles.

Of course, there are many more deceptions that can be used. The video below shows some of these deceptions by Anthony Ginting (as well as some impressive net shots)!

https://youtube.com/watch?v=sgqtS9ZYLQI%3Fversion%3D3%26enablejsapi%3D1%23038%3Brel%3D1%26showsearch%3D0%26showinfo%3D1%26iv_load_policy%3D1%26fs%3D1%26hl%3Den-GB%26autohide%3D2%26wmode%3Dtransparent

Common Mistakes Of Amateur Players

Many amateur badminton players naturally fear the net shot. It might be that they’re just not as comfortable with this shot, or they know there’s a higher chance of an unforced error with a net shot than a lift. Many players, therefore, chose not to play net shots, even when they have the perfect opportunity to. Instead, they lift the shuttle whenever they find themselves in the frontcourt. While a good lift will generally not give the opponent any significant advantage, it will give them other advantages:

  • The opponent doesn’t have to worry about a third of the court knowing that you’re going to lift the shuttle every time you’re at the net. This allows them to get into position earlier for your lift, putting you at a disadvantage.
  • The opponent will play more net shots knowing that you won’t play back to the net, therefore putting them in a better position to control the rally.
  • Makes it difficult for you to control the rally at all because it’s hard to force a situation where you can regain control without using the net. You are also more predictable which feeds into the two points above.

Practise Makes Perfect

Remember the opponent is also aware of the importance of the net shot and is just as eager to control the net as you. This is why you often get these little net shot battles on the court. This is also why practising the net shot in singles as much as possible will make it a valuable asset in your arsenal. Usually, who controls the net, controls the rally. And if you control the rally, you’re more likely to win the point!