How to Hit a Great Smash in Badminton
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.
How to Smash Effectively
The process of smashing involves moving into position, preparing for the shot and then hitting the smash.
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.