Wrest the initiative on the badminton court with the back shot.
THERE ARE MANY WAYS TO WREST THE INITIATIVE FROM YOUR OPPONENT ON THE BADMINTON COURT – BUT FEW WITH THE PANACHE OF THE BACK SHOT.
National shuttler Ashton Chen has certainly amassed a long list of anecdotes since turning professional in 2006. And one of his favourites is when he pulled off the back shot against rival Chong Wei Feng in the German Open Grand Prix Gold 2012. While the 24-year-old was crowing at his achievement against the Malaysian player, turnabout is fair play. He admits: “He did the same trick to me this year in the 2013’s Axiata Cup. But I managed to do it first to snatch the psychological advantage from him.”
So, capture the same element of surprise over your opponents on the badminton court by using his tips to master the back shot. And try not to smirk too overtly when it comes off.
HAVE FUN WITH IT
Although Ashton picked up the trick from watching former world No. 1 Taufik Hidayat, it was during his formative days as a youngster that he began practising the back shot. “I began trying it out when playing with friends. We’d be trying out trick shots for fun,” he says.
He added it to his repertoire only years later, as a way to include an element of surprise as a singles player. “It’s very useful when your opponent executes a smash and expects to finish you off from a weak return – only to have the shuttle fly right back at him with pace,” he says.
THE ART OF SURPRISE
In the execution of the back shot, it’s important to surprise your opponent, instructs Ashton. “Most opposing players tend to drop their badminton racquet as they approach the net after a smash and relax. And if the shuttle goes back from a back shot, it travels at a faster speed than they’d expect, which is why this trick shot is very useful,” he adds. The energy from the smash is still in the shuttle, so you’re really just redirecting it back.
“This is crucial in doing the back shot,” says Ashton. The important muscles are in your shoulders, as there’s quite a strain hyperextending your arm backwards to make this shot. The secondary muscles will be on your back and hips, he adds. You also have to make sure your other hand moves away from the body – otherwise you’ll hit it with your racquet, which can certainly hurt.
IGNORE YOUR INSTINCTS
Where to send the shuttle back matters: You don’t want to send it back where your opponent can return it, of course. Here’s where you want to be cunning. Ashton advises: “Most players tend to try to send the shuttle back as far from their opponent as possible. But I try to send it right back to his face.” His logic: The opponent will have a shorter reaction time, and it’s physiologically difficult to twist his body and arms to return the shuttle back from there.
IT TAKES BOTH PRACTICE AND PANACHE TO PULL OFF THIS TRICK – BUT THE REWARD IS YOUR OPPONENT’S AWE.