Few players are comfortable with an overly flat style of play. However, this is a very popular tactic among the top players in the world. Peter Gade was the player to popularize this tactic back in the late 90’s when he marched his way to the top of the world rankings. Peter was very dominant for 4 years before Taufik Hidayat, Lin Dan, and Lee Chong Wei started doing so well.
Like no other player before, Peter Gade kept the game very flat. He rarely lifted the shuttle high, and generally kept the shuttle coming down from the back. This style of game requires strong drives and defensive abilities, but can keep your opponent under extreme pressure. Peter Gade was a world junior doubles champion, so he is obviously very comfortable with flat play.
So why does this tactic work so well? A few reasons:
• By focusing on making your opponent really work for a lift from you they are unable to have much time to prepare for smashes
• This is a tactic that few players use, and requires shots that few singles players focus on. By keeping them out of their comfort zone you gain an advantage
• If your fitness is far from the best you make the court feel a little bit smaller for yourself
Like any tactic in badminton you need to be careful how you execute it, and who you try and use it against. Here are some tips on when you should avoid using this tactic:
• Against someone with poor fitness, make these guys run the full four corners of the court!
• Against a doubles specialist
• If you are not good at drives and flat play
So what do you need to execute this type of tactic?
• Don’t give up the lift so easily, try and push it flat when you’re at the net. Don’t be afraid of them smashing because their shot will have to be fairly flat, in fact you can probably hit it overhead back at them.
• If you find yourself digging from the back, don’t lift. Hit it flat back, hard and fast so they can hit a tight net shot. This is perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind. Don’t hit a slow drop shot back to the net, or else they’ll just hit a tight net shot.
• Control the net as often as you can. If they want to lift it nice and high to you, that’s just fine. You can hit a smash and follow it up with a push at the net or just net it again.
• Serve short. You’ll notice that players serve short more than ever now. With the 21 point scoring system players can’t afford to get burned on their long serve. Also, when you serve short it can be a good idea to mix up your placement. Serve it out wide sometimes, or even serve it deep into court, almost like a drive. This really throws people off who aren’t used to it, but be careful not to serve illegally.
• Practice by playing box game. Don’t know what box game is? Basically it is half court singles, where the only place you are allowed to hit the shuttle is the service box, nothing outside that one big box is in. This forces you to play flat, and is a great way to practice your flat play. A lot of doubles players like this game, but singles players need to be good at this too now.
If you want to use this tactic just watch a bunch of Peter Gade videos and you’ll see what I’m talking about. He is the master of this tactic, nobody does it better.