Badminton Professor Xiao Jie Former World-Champion Zhao JianHua Content: Forehand clear and Backhand drop My name is Yan, 30 years old. I’ve played badminton for a year. I haven’t improved much lately. My attacks are quite weak. That’s one of my main problems. I am looking for good advice from professionals. Hi coach Zhao. Hi there, Yan. First, let me watch you play for a bit. Ok that’s good. I find your strength is pretty good; a lot of shots reach the rear court. However, you seem to be only comfortable when the game is slow. When the game picks up, and your impact point is slightly behind you, you don’t play as well. Another problem is your footwork. After seeing a few full court plays, it’s obvious you are having trouble keeping up. It could be a lack of practice or speed. Your first steps are fine; but you can’t follow that up. Because you lack the other steps, it’s very tiring for you. Right. Another issue is your backhand. While you can hit it, it’s not the best it could be. So we’ll start with forehand clears, then discuss your backhand. There is the high clear, high drive and drive, three key principles. If you are on the defense, you play a high clear, to give yourself time to get back. High drive (attacking clear) has some attacking intentions. This shot is very important because the court is only this big, and it can be used to move your opponent. The further your clear, the closer your drop, the more he has to run. This way you open up a lot of space on his court. Your clears are not far enough; and it is too slow. You are gifting the shuttle to them. If I were to receive your clear, it would be a gift. Then I can decide how to attack you. So first you have to change your intentions. My clear is not an offering, but should make you run. Don’t hit it too high. Instead, hit it faster; make it uncomfortable for your opponent. Then he will have to clear it, right? A drive may not be as effective as sometimes they might cut it off at half court. Every shot has a different purpose. In general, clears are used very often. Any alterations are made just by your racket face. The strokes are more or less the same. So the adjustments are made through your wrist. Exactly… Let’s try it out. Relax; don’t be too tense. Concentrate the force from your wrist. Ok, let’s stop for a bit; those were very good. I’m not sure if you felt it, but it seems your shuttle speed has improved already. However, if your clears improve, you must improve all aspects of your game. If you hit a great clear but don’t move, then you’ll on defense once again. It’s all about controlling or being controlled. I think you did great. I do a few more demonstrations. I’ve notice a problem with your power delivery; your shots are not far enough. Then that makes your opponents court smaller! It all comes down to the last second. I noticed you draw it back a little bit. Exactly, you swing it, rather than let it explode out. You push it out almost; but rather it should flash out. You have the strength, but are not using it properly. I’m not sure how to go about that. To practice, don’t hit too hard to begin with, but the shuttle still leaves comfortably. Be crisper! Right! Ok, stop. How was that? I feel like I have a hard time holding on to my racket after the stroke. No problem, here’s what I do. When I’m not hitting, my grip is very, very loose. Yet, you cannot pull the racket out of my hands. You can lock it in with the ring finger and pinky. Here, try to pull it out. Ah I see; it can’t fly out. Right, and it is also very relaxed, so you can use all the power in your wrist. So try out these two grips for yourself. So you always grip it with the two fingers? No, not always, this is only to prevent it from flying out. You can have it as loose as you feel comfortable with. Ok, lets try it again. Right! Very good! I don’t know about you, but that looked very good to me. It felt very crisp. Right and the shuttle flew very far as well. The theory is the same for a smash. It’s not about how hard to hit, but how much force you can converge on that moment of contact. So you have to ask yourself, is my force concentrated on that moment? Yes, I often feel like I use a lot of force but… Unless you use it then, you are wasting it. The clear is the key shot in the backcourt.
Force must be concentrated at the moment of impact.
Only grip tight at impact, increasing speed. I have noticed something about your backhand shots. Let’s try some. What do you mean? Lets try some drops and cross-court drops. First, you have to set a target for yourself. Those shots were very good. Because you are on defense, you must focus on quality. Speed it key, which comes from your wrist. Let’s try it out. Try some cross-courts. What’s important is your racket face; it controls where the shuttle goes. Relax. Don’t use too much force. Right, very good. Closer to the line. You look very stiff to me. I felt quite uncomfortable. That is all wasted energy. When you are not hitting, you should be relaxed. It allows you to turn faster. If you stay stiff, turning becomes tough. Unless you must exert force, don’t fight with yourself. We are quite weak in this area. Therefore, we get nervous, which naturally leads to being tense. Have fun while you play; don’t give yourself unnecessary pressure. There can be variations in the grip. Let me show you. If the shuttle is here, you can hit it like this. However, if the shuttle is behind you, then, this grip is not appropriate. But this grip is. So when do I switch? It depends where the shuttle is. If it’s in line with me, I can hit it like this. But if it’s behind me, I definitely can’t hit it like this. With the second grip, I can even hit it cross-court. Can I use the first grip? No, it’s impossible to rotate that much. So you must remember to vary your grips, then you can hit cross-court. Relax! Good. Try to minimize your swing. Stop after impact. You are slicing the shuttle. Your racket face it not square enough. Shots like this are much more comfortable and quicker. It’s all a little new right now. Remember you can do much better with practice. Alright? I will. Do you have any other questions, about things we haven’t seen so far? When I’m forced to the back with a backhand shot, I can’t clear it. Backhand clears require a lot of wrist power. Professional players can clear it because they train their wrists. So, that’s the first point. The second concerns your motion. While the power mainly comes form your wrist, you can borrow some form the rest of your body. You can generate momentum with your arm, but you still have to deliver it with your wrist. Listen to this sound. You can probably clear with that kind of power. Try swinging it; see if you get the sound. Not bad. Remember to relax your grip. But then I grip hard during impact? Exactly, it all comes down to that instant. But never grip it too tightly at any other times. Grab it right when it hits the shuttle. But loosely before impact… That’s right. Let’s try again. Very good! That last sound was very good and crisp, meaning you hit it right. Remember to practice lots. So it’s still an issue of delivering power. And always remember to stay loose. Any other questions? Regarding what you taught me earlier, you said to stop after I clear. Do I always stop the racket after I hit? It’s about preparing for the next shot. After I hit it, the arm drops to here. Try it out. After I hit it, my arm stays tense. The key is to relax your shoulder. After you hit the shuttle, you should be exerting no energy at all, and let it drop naturally. Next time remember to let it drop naturally. No matter how much I teach, you still have to practice. That’s the only way to improve. See here, your whole body is stiff. Just pretend you’re running, or dancing. Even when you’re dancing you have to be coordinated right? And here, because the shuttle is behind you, your clears become too high. Even our shots may be too high in that situation, unless we force ourselves to push it down. So try to improve you footwork. If you backed up faster, you wouldn’t have this problem. You can even attack. But if all else fails, you can push it down with your wrist.