whats your skill level in badminton

What’s Your Skill Level In Badminton?

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Sometimes we’re disillusioned by our own skill level in badminton. Sometimes it takes a reality check to show us maybe we’re not as good as we thought we were. I had my own experience of this, coming out of university, thinking I was pretty good, thinking about going pro…them BAM got battered by players who were good club players. Not county or anything. Then I realised – I sucked.

Badminton Skill Level
Club Players Can Range Widely In Skill Level In Badminton

Usually, players who think they’re a good standard actually just haven’t stepped out of their comfort zone. If you’ve only ever played recreationally, or even at a non-competitive club, you might not see beyond that standard. If you’re one of the better players, it’s easy to think you might be a more advanced player. Badminton clubs often get people claiming to be of a certain standard. But when they turn up, their gameplay is something quite different…

This is not to mock anyone or belittle anyone’s abilities. But rather, it’s hopefully to give you a general idea of your standard so you can confidently go to a club or other badminton session knowing you will have competitive games. This is only my opinion based on what I’ve seen in the badminton scene here in the UK.

What Determines Skill Level?

While it’s relatively easy to identify a beginner and a very advanced player, in between the two is very much a grey area. It can be subjective according to your own ability, which is what players often measure against and what can cause players to mislabel themselves a certain standard.

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Badminton Insight Demonstrate Some Differences Between An Elite Player A Lower Level Skill Player In Badminton

In my humble opinion, the standard you are depends on 3 things:

  1. Technical Ability
  2. Tactical Knowledge
  3. Consistency

Technical ability is how well you are able to produce shots, move around the court and also applies to things such as grip choice. Tactical knowledge is how well the person knows the game, the right shots to play in certain situations and strategies. Consistency is about how well you’re able to continuously play without making an error.

Low Level

Low doesn’t mean bad by the way! Everyone starts here at some point. Others who sit at this level might not enjoy competitive play. They could just be recreational players who enjoy playing for fun.

Low-level players often comprise beginners and some recreational players. Players who are new to the sport would obviously immediately fall into this category. But there will be some players who have been playing a while and could still be considered a beginner.

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The Try Guys Are Obvious Low-Level Players

Low-level players will have very little technical ability. The very obvious culprits are panhandle grip for every forehand shot, lack of footwork and no backhand. In some cases, they can play a few shots such as a forehand clear, smash or basic net shot but with minimal skill.

In terms of tactical knowledge, again there will be little thought process beyond hitting the shuttle over the net or hitting it as hard as possible. For example, they will usually not understand doubles as a partnership, but rather as two individuals on the court trying to win the point. Very commonly we will see cross-court smashes being used extensively by beginners because it looks like an advanced shot. When tactically it is often a poor choice when not utilised correctly.

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Beginners make more errors than intermediate or advanced players. The lack of correct technique often is the culprit here. They also try to force points rather than play the rally, mostly relying on their smash to try and win an outright point, leading to unforced errors.

In some instances, they have developed their own techniques for certain shots and are able to move around the court fairly well, despite their lack of technically correct footwork. But these self-developed techniques are not particularly effective against higher level players.


This is by far the largest category and hardest to determine. Many players fall into this scope but at various levels and this is what I think creates some confusion as to their actual ability. From what I’ve seen from playing around, players who consider themselves intermediate are often lower intermediate players. There can be a broad range even within each of the sublevels below – so I have tried to apply a general analysis.

Lower Intermediate

Lower intermediate players are hard to place. In some instances, they look technically adequate but lack consistency and quality in their shots. The game itself is played at a slower pace than we would expect of higher intermediate or advanced players. Most players at this level are improving players who might be improving through coaching or playing a lot of badminton themselves to improve.

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The Above Is A Good Example Of Lower Intermediate Players

Their tactical knowledge is may not be very strong OR they do not have the technical ability to correctly execute that tactic effectively. It could be both. There is some knowledge of positional play in doubles and singles. But very often in level doubles, we see a lack of the role of the frontcourt player. In singles, we might see weak court coverage, particularly on the backhand side and the long diagonals.

Intermediate (Actual Intermediate!)

As the name suggests they average out across the three components. I would say that while their technique is usually pretty good they have comparatively less consistency. There will normally be a certain weakness in their game that emphasises this. The one I see most, particularly in doubles is a weak defence. They might be able to defend one or two smashes but struggle under compounding pressure or find it hard to turn the play around.

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This Singles Game Could Be Considered An Intermediate Level

An intermediate player may know what to do but lacks the technical skills to fully utilise that tactic. In some cases, they know the right shots to play but are unable to do it consistently. Or they are still willing to play high percentage error shots to win the point, rather than play safe.

Alternatively, they might be technically very good but tactically naive. This is often the case when a player has become very good at winning straight points at lower levels. However, these shots are retrieved more easily by better players. You have to work harder for your points and more like a partnership in doubles, and they lack the knowledge to play shots which benefits the team.

All in all, most competitive club players will fall into this skill level in badminton. It is quite broad covering those who have just come out of the lower level – those edging on upper intermediate.

Upper Intermediate

These players have a strong foundation in technical skills and a good level of consistency. They will also have a sound understanding of general tactics and strategies. Upper-intermediate players usually will be able to effectively work together in a partnership to create winning points for each other, rather than trying to win the point as individuals. In singles, they will be able to exploit a weakness in their opponents and play with variation to create openings to win the point.

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An Example Of Higher Intermediate Players Skill Level In badminton

Their overall game will be reliable with fewer unforced errors than an “actual” intermediate player. There may be some weaknesses or lacking in their gameplay but these will not be as obvious as at the levels below. For example, they can defend very well but only when they lift the shuttle (as a general example). This is where we might find the higher club level players or low-mid county/state players.

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Advanced players have dedicated a significant amount of time and energy to mastering these three elements. They are extremely consistent players with errors that they do make usually being forced by their opponents. They are able to read the game extremely well and recognise patterns in play relatively quickly.

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It’s Hard To Believe How Good These Kids Are. They Are Definitely Advanced Players.

Importantly they are able to determine the right strategy to use against a given opponent and adapt that strategy as the opponent adapts theirs. Training becomes much more specific as players are strong in all three areas.

It is almost expected at this level that technical ability is a given and so there is a deep focus on consistency and strategy and on the player’s individual needs rather than the overall game. Remember in badminton at this level, most points are not won outright. Most are won by forcing mistakes out of the opponent. Therefore the more consistent you are, the fewer mistakes you’re likely to give away.

In the general badminton population, advanced players and above are very rare, relatively speaking.


Surprise! There’s one more level. Elite level players are basically national and international players. Elite players encompass everything the advanced player is. But what separates them is their dedication and commitment to the sport, including not just the three areas we have mentioned but also their fitness levels and perhaps a more natural affinity to the sport (although this isn’t always the case).

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Elite players generally have excellent consistency and technical skills. At this level, they’re as good as they can be. While weaknesses are minimised, some might still be present. For example, Fu Haifeng for most of his career was obviously not as strong at the net as in the rear court. However, elite players excel in tactics and the ability to use their strengths to their advantage. The focus becomes much more strategy-driven.


What’s crazy about this is the jump between the tiers. Obviously, we can all see the difference between a beginner and an advanced player. However, even the difference between an advanced player and an elite player can be huge. A county player considered advanced might still get destroyed by a lower level elite player. So even within these gradings, there are wild differences. We see this clearly on the professional scene where often 4 or 5 of the top rank players dominate tournaments, despite all the players being elite.

This is also subjective depending on your level. For example, a low-level player might view an intermediate player as advanced. But an elite player might find an intermediate player low level. I have tried to find the middle ground based on the standard I’ve most commonly come across on the badminton scene here in the UK – at least in my experience.

In summary, most players based on this analysis will fall into the intermediate category if they play competitively. Obviously, newbies or most people who play non-competitively (assuming no prior training) would fall into the low-level tier.

Advanced players tend to be county/state players representing their region and perhaps straddling the boundary of the national team. Whereas elite players will be national team members.

Are you honest with yourself about your level? Does the above change your mind or do you think I’ve gotten it wrong? Which category do you think you fall into? Let me know in the comments below!

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