Most Important Shot In Badminton – The Serve

So you want to know what the most important shot in badminton is? Arguing with your friends? Well, I got your back. Well, actually I don’t because I’m going to go through all of the basic shots in badminton, their utility, and what it means for the game over several posts. So you guys decide amongst yourselves…

Realistically, there isn’t a most “important shot.” The best shot depends on the circumstance at the time in the match. Your best shot might not necessarily be the best shot for the situation at hand. But we can try and make objective arguments why each shot could be considered the most important in the game. We will begin with the serve.

The Serve

Yes, the serve. I know you wanted me to start with something more exciting like the cross-court net or the smash or stop drop. But unfortunately for you guys, I’m starting here!

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The serve is the first shot of every rally. In singles, both a high serve to the rear court and a shorter serve around the service line is used. More commonly the long serve is seen in women’s singles. In doubles, mainly a short serve is used but it is common to see a flick serve both in mixed and level doubles at least a couple of times per game.

If you want more info on the serve in each of the disciplines mentioned above, please see the below posts:

Why It Is The Most Important Shot In Badminton?

Full disclosure, I, think the serve is the most important shot in the game. But that is my opinion! You might think otherwise and we’ll go over those as and when those posts come out. But for now, we’re focusing on the serve.

The Serve Starts Every Rally

You might be able to play a whole rally or even a whole game without smashing or playing a net shot (in theory – not recommended)! But you will have to play at least one serve. Preferably more, assuming you are actually capable of winning some points!

Therefore while you might be able to strategize around a weakness in some of the shots in your arsenal, you cannot avoid the serve. This is why it’s so important to get it right. Every time you win a point you have to serve. And if you serve badly, you will end up canceling out those hard-fought-for points.

It’s The Only Shot You’re In Full Control Of

With other shots, there is momentum to them. Whether you’re playing an overhead shot, a net shot, or a drive. While in most cases you will be able to play these shots relatively easily given time and balance but these factors are rarely gifted in badminton, influencing your ability to play them well.

First of all, you have to move to the shuttle. Just that alone is enough to affect your shot, depending if you’re early or late, whether your footwork is correct, etc. If you can’t get to the shuttle early then controlling the shuttle becomes much harder.

Other factors that might have an effect on the player’s ability to hit the shuttle with full control might be lighting, a draft in the hall, or even the occasional occurrence when the opponent’s shuttle clips the tape. Yes, some of those things are rare and people can adapt for the most part. But it still means there’s perhaps an element of unpredictability.

Most important Shot - The Serve
Badminton Players Wait To Receive Serve In Badminton
Credit: Joits

When we look at the serve – none of these factors are in play. It’s literally you standing still and hitting the shuttle over the net. Unless there’s an off-court distraction when you serve, any error on this shot is entirely on you. Therefore it’s the one you can capitalize on, or at least reduce your error rate on the most.

In the old days, you could only score on your serve. So even if you won a rally, it doesn’t mean you got the point UNLESS you served at the start of that rally. So if you have a temperamental serve, chances are you’d have to fight really hard to win a game if you couldn’t serve consistently.

Giving Away Easy Points

The serve is the only shot where the opponent can win the point without doing anything if you make an error on it. So to the point above, if you are in full control of the shot and making basic errors like serving into the net consistently, then you really need to evaluate your serve and improve.

However, if you do manage to get the shuttle over the net but the opponent manages to kill it pretty often, then the serve itself was not good enough. For example, if you hit a high serve, it should have good length AND height. A high serve that’s short is going to get punished and a long serve without enough height is going to be intercepted.

Meanwhile, a low serve might be crossing the net at too great a height allowing the opponent to move forward quickly to kill it off. This is particularly relevant for doubles where the first three shots will determine the advantage in the rally. If you get the first shot wrong, you’ve already given it away.

So this is another reason the serve is so important. If you learn to serve well, it might not win you points outright but it will prevent the opponent from scoring at their first opportunity.

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Most Pressure

There is more pressure on the serve than any other shot. Especially when you get to the later stages of a game. Imagine 20-19 at a World Championship final and you’re serving with a few thousand people watching you. That is serious pressure.

Even when you’re playing your club games or with friends and the score is that close, you can feel it if you have to serve. It requires a lot of mental focus in these tight situations, almost more so than when you have a rally going and you have options over your shot choice. There can be pressure for example when playing at the net. It’s often the delicate shots that become less clinical in higher-pressure situations but you have the option of lifting. Whereas with a serve, you have little choice other than which type of serve to play. All of these need to be pretty clinical to avoid the opponent taking advantage.

You Can Win Straight Points Off A Serve

Ok granted it’s rare, but a good service can win you a couple of extra points in a game. I am thinking here, particularly of the flick serve and low serve in doubles. In singles, it’s not as common.

These points usually occur when the opponent misjudges where the shuttle will land or are totally deceived by your flick serve. Although it’s hard to justify this as an advantage in a way, since any shot can be a winning point, the serve has the advantage of not needing to actually do anything in terms of expending energy.

What Do YOU Think?

Do you think the serve is the most important shot in the game? There’s plenty to choose from. I’ve said before that the net shot could be the most important shot in singles for example. Above I’ve outlined my reasoning for the serve to be considered the most important and that might be enough for you…until my next post. If there’s any reason you think I’ve missed, let me know in the comments!

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