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.

Men's Health (Singapore) - - ED’S NOTE -

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.

FLEX­I­BIL­ITY MAT­TERS

“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.

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