I’m a keen badminton player and sports writer. I’ve been playing badminton since my early teens. At the moment I’m playing 2-3 times a week.
How to Smash in Badminton
The smash is the most aggressive shot in badminton. The world's fastest badminton smash was 332kph (206mph), hit by Fu Haifeng of China in 2005, though even faster smash speeds of over 400kph (250mph) have been recorded unofficially during smash speed tests used for promotional purposes.
Smashes are used differently in singles and doubles. In badminton singles, the smash should be used sparingly—only when you are confident of a weak return. In badminton doubles, you should smash more often—after all, it's your partner's job to cover the strong returns! The technique for smashing is very similar to serving in tennis or throwing a ball overarm.
What You Need to Know to Smash Effectively
- The footwork needed to move into the right position
- How to move into the ready position prior to the smash
- The process of hitting the shuttlecock from the smash position
1. Moving into Position: Footwork
You cannot play a shot effectively unless you are in position in good time. You need time to come to a halt and centre your balance before you try to take the shot.
2. Preparing: The Ready Position
Your body should be relaxed, as tense muscles move more slowly than loose ones. Use a relaxed forehand grip (same as in tennis).
Stand sideways, so that your non-racket foot and shoulder are facing toward the direction you wish to smash.
If you are positioned correctly, you should be standing so that the shuttlecock would drop down the back of your neck, were you to let it fall.
Your non-racket arm should point up toward the shuttlecock, while your racket arm should also be raised with your elbow bent and your wrist uncocked, so your racket is pointing upwards (see fig. 1 below). Your weight should be on your back foot.
3. Hitting the Smash
When you smash, take a step forward. You are aiming to hit the shuttlecock at the highest point you can comfortably, so your arm and racket should be fully extended at the point of impact.
Imagine you are "throwing" your racket through the shuttlecock. Your muscles should be loose up to the point of impact. Don’t try to hit the shuttlecock hard! Doing so will cause your muscles to tighten. You may find it hard to believe, but the smoother and more fluid the motion, the faster and more consistent the smash will be.
The key principle is to maximise the acceleration of the racket and the momentum of your bodyweight.
Here I'll walk you through each step of the process.
As stated, "Your non-racket arm should point up toward the shuttlecock, while your racket arm should also be raised with your elbow bent and your wrist uncocked, so your racket is pointing upwards" (see fig. 1).
You should lead the motion with your non-racket arm, which should start off pointing toward the shuttlecock. As it moves forward and downward, your shoulders will rotate (see fig. 2).
As your shoulders rotate, you should simultaneously start to step forward and swing your forearm forward, so that your racket arm and racket leg are moving forward at the same time (see fig. 3).
As your forearm swings forward, you should "cock" your wrist—tilt it backward so that your racquet is pointing downward rather than upward. Your elbow should also turn so that your racket is pointing behind your back (see fig. 4).
Then as you swing your arm forward, you should rotate your forearm around and straighten your elbow so that your arm straightens out as you "throw" the racket toward the shuttlecock (see fig. 5).
Just before impact, you should flick your wrist, generating extra speed as the racket hits the shuttlecock. The shuttlecock should hit the centre of the racket, with the racket flat to the shuttlecock at the point of impact. The racket should face downward so that the shuttlecock flies at a steep downward angle over the net.
The point of impact should be slightly in front of you. Keep your arm and racket outstretched so that you hit the shuttlecock as high in the air as possible without your arm being hyper-extended—there should still be a slight bend in your elbow to avoid the possibility of injury (see fig. 6).
After you hit the shuttlecock, your racket should continue downward as if it had just hit through the shuttlecock and is continuing its trajectory (see fig. 7 and 8).
Your racket should follow through in an arc and come to rest near your non-racket leg so that your racket arm crosses your body. Figure 9 has almost completed his arc and will continue to move his racket until it stops by his other leg.
A good follow-through maintains your racket speed as you hit the shuttlecock so that you put the maximum force into the impact. You should be hitting "through" the shuttlecock!
Following this technique may feel strange at first. Try practising in front of a mirror without shuttlecocks until it feels more comfortable. Then get a friend to feed you high lifts so you can practice the smash. Soon you should be hitting the shuttlecock much better and harder than before!
One last thing that will help is watching this slow-motion video of Fu Haifeng smashing. As I mentioned, he has hit the fastest recorded badminton smash, so he knows what he's doing!
It's a jump smash but the arm movement is the same—watch how his arm coils and uncoils as he smashes it.
Slow-Motion Smash: Fu Haifeng
Has this helped your badminton smash? What else would you like to know? Please share your thoughts!
ibraheim on March 11, 2020:
i like ruby
seb on November 26, 2019:
I went and shot up a school, I like kids bums
gurk timpson on May 10, 2019:
i love kids
malikye on April 29, 2019:
I need help
justice on March 03, 2017:
i like it
jeff on June 25, 2015:
this article was not helpful whatsoever.thank you
pushaan on September 04, 2014:
nice but useless
BB on May 18, 2013:
Manjeet on January 04, 2013:
I find hitting the base of the shuttlecock most difficult in a amash shot.
Manu on December 01, 2012:
My smashes are now not going to the net. They are just going like a bullet to the opponent's midcourt. I am very happy now. Thanks for your help. I hope that you will post few more articles on how to improve our tactics.
Badminton Doubles (author) from London on May 12, 2012:
Yes - I mention the ArcSaber Z-Slash record in the same paragraph. It was done in a speed test rather than in a match so I don't think it's as significant.
geeth on May 11, 2012:
nice i have lean many things thank you so much
JGS on May 11, 2012:
The fastest smash is 421 km/h (261Mph) using the Yonex Arcsaber Z-Slash
SOS!!!! on April 13, 2012:
Since I'm pretty bad at the game I started attending this course but it turned out that there too, I was the worst amongst the learners.I couldn't even serve right.Then after some weeks, out of my clear observation of myself, I found out that the problem rested in my lack of power and aim while hitting a smash or even surving.The coach continually scolds me for my utter defeats.How can I solve this?
abam on March 06, 2012:
great info! and thnx for extra info from Mike and Badgerman's comments!! I love this article, it's just TOO AWESOME TO BE TRUE!!! I can't believe that you just need to put an easy swing to do a smash and TOTALLY NOT A VERY HARD SWING to do so... XP
chintia meliala on February 12, 2012:
this info is helpful
supersmashrackett on November 14, 2011:
Badminton is AWESOME!!! especially when it comes to smashes and drops and serves and,,,, oh i don't know but it's awesome!
ginge on June 06, 2011:
really good article
Yasar on May 21, 2011:
This is awesome
costraphil on April 11, 2011:
thanks a lot
cyber on March 27, 2011:
Ai on March 07, 2011:
very informative... I recently joined my school badminton team, so far, I think I am the worse player on my team -.- I will definitely follow these tips and hope to improve my hitting skills!
shivs on November 19, 2010:
this has helped me a lot.
flinsura on October 26, 2010:
Wow! I like this Hub! tHanks for the tips... Hope to learn more.... Great Hub...
Hannah duncan on October 06, 2010:
badgerman on September 29, 2010:
You have my respect for printing my comment. It’s very had to see what really happens, even in a slowed down video, but I could show you lots of photographs to support my point about the follow through. However, perhaps it is not that important, as it actually illustrates my REAL point. The coaching advice would simply be to ‘follow through in the direction you want to hit the shuttle.’
However, since you seem to like biomechanics, you will no doubt be aware that about 53% of the power on the smash comes from shoulder rotation and radio-ulnar pronation. When the forearm pronates the palm moves towards the OUTSIDE of the body. That is the right side of a right hander. That's actually what I mean by the follow through being towards the racquet side. The problem is that, due to the player's body movement and the instant relaxation of the arm in preparation for the next shot, it is very hard to see this in 'motion’. If you freeze the action at the appropriate point, it becomes obvious.
The original research on this, which has been confirmed by later studies, was presented at the 1977 World Championships coaching conference by the Canadians, David B. Waddell and Barbara A. Gowitzke. In a review of thirty years of biomechanical analysis by themselves and others Waddell and Gowitzke (2000) wrote "The myth of “wrist snap” was reportedly laid to rest." Hand movement, specifically palmar flexion, plays a greater part in hitting round the head cross court smashes, and in hitting a smash with a very short follow through, but I'm afraid players don't change the direction of the smash with their wrist at the last moment, even if they think they do.(Certainly not on a flat out power smash). The whole stroke takes less than 1/10 of a second to perform. Anyway, that's a whole new argument.
You may be right about what the coach does, because that's what most coaches think they are supposed to do. This is the misconception that leads to advice like 'Ah, you must snap your wrist at the point of contact.' As if the player can actually determine the exact millisecond in that shot played in 0.1 seconds when they should be ‘snapping’. The best technical coach in the game told me something many years ago which I didn't quite believe at the time. He said that (leaving aside footwork) there are only two things you can teach a player about hitting a shot; how to prepare, and what hitting action to use. So for a smash that would be starting position (however you want to describe it) and throw. The more I thought about this, the more I realized it was true.
If the player has a problem, the coach must identify that problem AND ITS CAUSE and give the player appropriate activities to fix it. It is usually unnecessary to tell the player what the problem is, but they may need advice on the cause. For example, a player is hitting smashes too flat. The coach who merely thinks he is good either a) tells the player they are hitting too flat, advising the player to hit it down more, or b) spots that the player’s arm is bent and thus the point of contact is too low, advising the player to straighten the arm and hit the shuttle from a higher point. The coach who really IS good asks WHY the arm is bent (actually, he generally knows already) , corrects the player’s pan handle grip and tells the player to throw, which they now can with the correct grip (grip being part of ‘how to prepare) . (Of course, THAT coach knows that, like giving up smoking, giving up a pan handle grip isn’t easy, but has a range of measures to help the player kick the habit).
Most badminton coaches in this country haven't a clue about fault detection and correction, and none of the coaching systems we have had since I qualified (1984) train them to do it. Apart from having completely the wrong idea about how most shots actually played, most coaches don’t have the necessary skills to do anything other than a) repeat their initial advice, or b) tell the player what they think they are doing wrong. Talk to most coaches about backward chaining and they either accuse you of being a theorist or think you are building a fence.
Your comment about annotating a video indicates that you have missed my point. No, it would NOT be great to break down a smash in detail and have players try to work out if their elbow was in the same place as Peter Gade’s elbow at some given point in the stroke. What would be helpful would be to show them how good players prepare to hit and then show them at full speed how the hit is performed. Have you never noticed how fast young players improve when they are around good players? That is because they learn by imitation. They don’t analyze, they ABSORB the visual information and copy. I could talk about visualization techniques at some length, but this is now an even longer comment than my first.
I am pleased that you are doing your Coach Part 1, and I hope you continue to higher levels. I also really hope that you will learn something useful, but I gave up training coaches when I could no longer justify teaching people the absolute garbage the B.A of E. (as they were then) were putting in their courses. At that point the courses were being written by people who did not even have the experience to know how ignorant they were. Some of them were very good players, but that is not always, indeed, not often, a particular advantage in technical coaching. I have frequently seen top-class players describe how a shot is played and then demonstrate something completely different, and, of course, much more correct.
I hope that things have improved since then, but when I stopped I felt that the content of the system was far less useful than what I was taught in 1984. I quickly learned that a lot of that was rubbish, but at least it attempted to cover the basics of teaching, and was aimed at preparing coaches to do what most of them do initially – coaching beginners. By the latter stages of my career as a Tutor Assessor the system seemed to have lost all touch with reality. I attended a course at HQ where the tutors gave us the low-down on the new system of teaching grips. After a morning listening to complete nonsense we had a break, during which I witnessed a Danish coach, whom the Association had brought in largely for his technical knowledge, saying to a group of coaches “Of course if you want to the shuttle hard on the forehand, you hold the racquet like this.” He then proceeded to demonstrate what I had taught for years as the ‘forehand power grip,’ used for all forehand strokes with a long swing, (hard and soft) like a high serve, clear, drop or smash (without slice). I said to him ‘I completely agree with you, but why is that grip not in the manual?’ He shrugged. I took that to mean ‘it’s more than my jobs worth to contradict all these idiots.’
That story sums up what’s wrong with coaching. Too much of it is based on what people think and say players do (including the players at times) and not enough on what they actually do. Don’t look at staged photos in coaching books; keep looking at the live videos and at action photos from real games. (For instance, there’s a superb photo of Lee Chong Wei using exactly the grip I am talking about on the current All England Poster).
If you intend to coach I hope that you will consider what I am saying. The science of coaching is to know how the strokes are produced; the art of coaching is to teach players to do what you want them to do WITHOUT giving them too much detail. That is to say, effective coaches don’t talk about what happens DURING the shot; instead, the ensure preparation is correct and talk about hitting action types like, throw, push and tap. (Which vocabulary, the player must of course understand). Coaching is full of pseudo-scientists; but there are very few real artists out there.
Badminton Doubles (author) from London on September 16, 2010:
To follow up my last comment, here's a YouTube video from Badminton England about smash technique, where all the smashes finish with the racket arm following through across the body:
Badminton Doubles (author) from London on September 16, 2010:
Thanks, Badgerman for reading my article so thoroughly and giving me detailed constructive feedback.
I'm not a professional badminton coach and I only play at a (decent) club level, but I do play in league matches and have been playing for about 15 years, so I'm not a complete novice either.
You make good points but I'll start off with the one I disagree with most - "the follow through will only be across the body in a cross court smash from the smasher's forehand side (that is to say a right hander hitting from his/her right to left)."
Actually I used to suffer shoulder strain until a very experienced coach who's judgement I trusted pointed out that my follow through on overhead shots was straight rather than across my body and this was putting a strain on my shoulder. I checked this with another coach and decided to change my technique - this plus physio work has sorted my shoulder out.
I'm currently taking the UK level 1 badminton coaching course, which I'm sure will affect my approach to writing about badminton technique in future. I've just double checked the handbook, which has step by step photos of players like Peter Gade playing shots - the overhead shots show right handed players on the left side of the court with their racket following through across their body.
In fact, looking at the slow motion video of Fu Haifeng's smash (and yes, perhaps a jump smash is not the best choice but there's not so many slow motion videos to pick from and this one really lets you focus on his beautifully fluid arm movement) it's very hard to tell which side of his body his arm is going, but it's definitely beginning to cross his body. As he's jumping to his backhand side it looks to me like his racket arm will finish nearer his non-racket leg, and this is him playing the smash cross court to his forehand side, so I'm still not convinced by your argument.
I don't have time to look through YouTube videos for examples or counter examples right now, so here's a challenge: I think that when any decent player hits a smash cross court, if they want to hit a proper smash at full power they face their whole body that direction, they never swing their arm in a different direction. If they don't want to broadcast the direction of their smash then they use their wrist to adjust the direction (as Fu Haifeng does in the slo mo video). So your challenge is to find a video counter-example and post the link on the comments.
You make a reasonable point about writing about bio-mechanics - the player should (initially) focus on a good smooth throwing motion, and any more information does risk paralysis by analysis. However, it's still possible for a player to read an article like this, identify something they don't think they do correctly, and then pay attention to that one thing while practicing the shot? Surely this is what a coach does - identifies a part of the stroke that could improve and explains to the player what they should try to achieve?
I must admit, a video is a better medium and it'd be great to annotate a slow motion video on youtube so that players can visually digest the desired motion rather than read a dry description of it. I've not seen this done anywhere....if anyone has then please post the link!
Anyway, Badgerman, this is a v long comment so I hope you have time to read it. Thanks for starting the discussion, I hope to hear from you further.
Badgerman on September 15, 2010:
My goodness, what a lot of information! Unfortunately most of it is unnecessary and quite a bit of it inaccurate. For instance, if your video was taken from a different angle and lasted a bit longer, you'd see that Fu Hai Feng's racquet will follow through much closer to the racquet leg than the non-racquet leg, which is what happens on a straight smash. (One can just see it happening). The follow through will only be across the body in a cross court smash from the smasher's forehand side (that is to say a right hander hitting from his/her right to left).
Your site is a laudable effort, but it is notoriously difficult to write about badminton technique, and Michael, you are not making it. Do you really believe that a player should THINK about 'flicking' the wrist (whatever that is) 'just before impact' on a shot that takes well under a second, even for an average club player? The action you are referring to will happen naturally, if the player prepares correctly and THROWS. Watching slow-motion videos and reading a fairly inaccurate biomechanical breakdown of a shot will produce 'paralysis by analysis' as the player becomes conscious of technique.
Good coaches don’t talk about biomechanics (except to other coaches), because they know that their job is produce technically sound players who are UNCONSCIOUS of technique. Any coach who starts to spout biomechanics is either very naïve, or is showing off. You make some reasonable points, such as relaxing for power, but if you are going to set yourself up as a badminton guru you need to know a lot more and say a lot less.
You don’t bother to mention the grip, but perhaps that is just as well, since you’d probably end up telling us what you heard or read, rather than looking at what Fu Hai Feng is DOING, which is most certainly not what 99% of coaches would expect him to be doing - because they don’t look. Why use a video of a jump smash, then talk about a smash with no jump? However, even if a player is not going to jump smash, it is important to work towards being able to hit overhead forehands with what is usually called a ‘scissor kick’, where both feet are off the ground, (although sometimes only just.) To do this the player will need to know that an overhead forehand is initiated by pushing up of the bent back (racquet) leg – not by any movement of the non racquet arm.
By the way, since you’ll no doubt be wondering, I am a professional badminton coach with over twenty five years of experience, and I DO know how to teach technique; which in this country (UK) makes me a very rare animal indeed.
nelson on August 28, 2010:
very good article i can smash very well now
Ly on July 20, 2010:
Great article... Only need to put that into practice!
Sandeep on January 13, 2010:
yes, a lot informative