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Nothing is more important than the way you hold the racket. VOS – it means that you must form a V with your thumb and index finger and make certain the V points to your Opposite Shoulder when the racket is in the ready position (pointing at the net.) Beginners find the VOS grip very uncomfortable and believe they can hit better shots if they hold the racket like it was a hammer. However, it is virtually impossible to improve at the game until you learn to play with the VOS grip! Use it on all shots.
All strokes should be hit with your weight on the racket leg (right leg for right-handed players; left leg for left-handers) at the point of contact. Learn to transfer your weight from racket to non-racket leg after contact. Try to do this on all shots and you will find that you have better balance and can move on the court with much less effort.
Forget about hitting hard shots when you are learning. Hold the racket loosely and hit only soft shots - no smashes until after you have learned how to stroke drops & clears. For underhand shots played near the net there is almost no backswing or follow-through. For overhead shots position the racket behind your head and stroke with a relaxed arm so the head of the racket will twist at the point of contact. It's called pronation on the forehand and supination on the backhand, and it’s done with the forearm--keeping the backswing and follow-through short. Use the same technique for sidearm strokes. For better balance always try to keep your free arm at shoulder height.
Use only the short backhand serve. Stand sideways to the net with racket leg forward and grip the racket loosely. Hold the shuttle below the waist and by the tip of a feather. Then take a slow,soft stroke with the racket shaft pointing down, and weight on the racket leg. Your elbow should be as high as your shoulder throughout the stroke. Forehand serves or high serves to the backcourt are not recommended for novice players. When returning a serve be sure that your ready position is with the weight forward on the non-racket leg and the racket held at shoulder height pointing at the server, so that when you move forward or backward to return the serve your weight is on the racket leg at point of contact.
Basic singles strategy
The way to improve is by doing drills--repeating the same strokes over and over. Drills can become monotonous, so if you decide to play the occasional game of singles, the strategy is to try and make your opponent run by placing your shots in any of the four corners. Avoid smashing altogether until you have learned the other strokes. And remember: the way to learn how to place your shots accurately is by not playing games, but by doing drills.
Basic doubles strategy
Doubles games may be more fun than singles, but the strategy can be quite complicated. The basic idea is that when one player moves forward to play a shot near the net, the partner should be ready to cover the backcourt. The smash is the most important shot in doubles, and to return smashes you and your partner must be side by side, mid-court. Try to keep your shots as flat as possible so that your opponents won't be able to smash so much.
At the Red Willow Badminton Club private lessons are available from professional coaches. The fee is $20 per half-hour, and this applies whether the lesson is for individuals, families or friends. Arrange your own group and then call 780-460-2441 for an appointment. Non-members must also pay the daily guest fee.