o win in badminton, players need to employ a wide variety of strokes in the right situations. These range from powerful jumping smashes to delicate tumbling net returns. Often rallies finish with a smash, but setting up the smash requires subtler strokes. For example, a netshot can force the opponent to lift the shuttlecock, which gives an opportunity to smash. If the netshot is tight and tumbling, then the opponent's lift will not reach the back of the court, which makes the subsequent smash much harder to return.Deception is also important. Expert players prepare for many different strokes that look identical, and use slicing to deceive their opponents about the speed or direction of the stroke. If an opponent tries to anticipate the stroke, he may move in the wrong direction and may be unable to change his body momentum in time to reach the shuttlecock.
DoublesBoth pairs will try to gain and maintain the attack, smashing downwards when possible. Whenever possible, a pair will adopt an ideal attacking formation with one player hitting down from the rearcourt, and his partner in the midcourt intercepting all smash returns except the lift. If the rearcourt attacker plays a dropshot, his partner will move into the forecourt to threaten the net reply. If a pair cannot hit downwards, they will use flat strokes in an attempt to gain the attack. If a pair is forced to lift or clear the shuttlecock, then they must defend: they will adopt a side-by-side position in the rear midcourt, to cover the full width of their court against the opponents' smashes. In doubles, players generally smash to the middle ground between two players in order to take advantage of confusion and clashes.
At high levels of play, the backhand serve has become popular to the extent that forehand serves have become fairly rare at a high level of play. The straight low serve is used most frequently, in an attempt to prevent the opponents gaining the attack immediately. Flick serves are used to prevent the opponent from anticipating the low serve and attacking it decisively.
At high levels of play, doubles rallies are extremely fast. Men's doubles is the most aggressive form of badminton, with a high proportion of powerful jump smashes.
SinglesThe singles court is narrower than the doubles court, but the same length. Since one person needs to cover the entire court, singles tactics are based on forcing the opponent to move as much as possible; this means that singles strokes are normally directed to the corners of the court. Players exploit the length of the court by combining lifts and clears with drop shots and net shots. Smashing tends to be less prominent in singles than in doubles because the smasher has no partner to follow up his effort and is thus vulnerable to a skillfully placed return. Moreover, frequent smashing can be exhausting in singles where the conservation of a player's energy is a at a premium. However, players with strong smashes will sometimes use the shot to create openings, and players commonly smash weak returns to try to end rallies.
In singles, players will often start the rally with a forehand high serve or with a flick serve. Low serves are also used frequently, either forehand or backhand. Drive serves are rare.
At high levels of play, singles demands extraordinary fitness. Singles is a game of patient positional manoeuvring, unlike the all-out aggression of doubles.
Mixed doublesIn mixed doubles, both pairs typically try to maintain an attacking formation with the woman at the front and the man at the back. This is because the male players are usually substantially stronger, and can therefore produce smashes that are more powerful. As a result, mixed doubles require greater tactical awareness and subtler positional play. Clever opponents will try to reverse the ideal position, by forcing the woman towards the back or the man towards the front. In order to protect against this danger, mixed players must be careful and systematic in their shot selection.
At high levels of play, the formations will generally be more flexible: the top women players are capable of playing powerfully from the back-court, and will happily do so if required. When the opportunity arises, however, the pair will switch back to the standard mixed attacking position, with the woman in front.
Governing bodiesThe Badminton World Federation (BWF) is the internationally recognized governing body of the sport. Five regional confederations are associated with the BWF:
- Asia: Badminton Asia Confederation (BAC)
- Africa: Badminton Confederation of Africa (BCA)
- Americas: Badminton Pan Am (North America and South America belong to the same confederation; BPA)
- Europe: Badminton Europe (BE)
- Oceania: Badminton Oceania (BO)