How do we read our opponent’s shot before they could deliver?

by Fairuz

(Kuantan, Pahang, Malaysia.)

Question: How do we read our opponent’s shot before they could deliver? Like in men singles, before they smash, where do we need to defend?

Hi Fairuz, thank you for your question.

Before hitting a badminton smash, one must be in the right position to hit a strong smash. He must get BEHIND the shuttle so that the player can direct the shuttle downwards via a natural swing to direct the shuttle downward with a jump smash (see picture above).

Therefore, one must get behind the shuttle in order to hit a strong and effective smash.

How to Predict the Smash

In men’s singles, you can most probably predict a smash coming when you:

  • Lift or clear the shuttle (gives a good chance for your opponent to smash)
  • Be aware if your opponent injects pace in his movement. This means that your opponent moves extremely quick to the shuttle (quicker than his normal pace during the game) so that he can get behind the shuttle and hit the smash.

Be Prepared to Defend

When this happens, move to your defensive base. Adopt a defensive stance.

Stand in the appropriate area to defend the smash (see picture above). It is slightly behind the very centre of the court. This is because you want to give yourself some time to detect the flight direction of the shuttle. This gives you time to react.

Make sure not to stand too far back or front of your defensive base.

If you’re standing too far in front, you won’t have enough time to see where the smash is going.

If you’re standing to far back (we call this going too deep into your defence), you won’t be able to retrieve the shuttle if your opponent decides NOT to smash and hit a badminton drop shot.

Final Tips

In badminton men’s singles, you will need to cover wider smash angles as compared to men doubles. It’s impossible to tell whether your opponent will smash towards your body, your forehand area, or your backhand area.

However, follow the correct badminton defence technique. It’ll help you defend smashes effectively, regardless of whether the smash is going to your forehand or backhand area.

The KEY is to be ready. Be ON-GUARD when your opponent hits the smash. If you’re off-guard (i.e. not standing at your defensive base or not standing on a defensive stance), you’re less likely to retrieve the smash. Even if you manage to retrieve the shuttle, it might not be a good return.
Click here for a step by step tutorial on how to defend against your opponents’ smashes


When you lift or clear the shuttle and see your opponent injecting pace in his movement, expect a smash!

However you can’t be 100% sure if your opponent will smash, or do a drop shot. The best thing to do is to BE READY.

Get your badminton defence technique right and you’ll be able to defend the smashes or drop shots.

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