Badminton Drop Shot: Types of Drop Shots and How to Play Them

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A badminton player playing a drop shot

Drop shots are some of the most beautiful and deceptive shots in badminton. A drop shot can be used to surprise your opponent, giving you the opportunity to win the point outright or by forcing your opponent to play a weak reply which you can capitalize on.

First of all, what is a drop shot?

A drop shot in badminton is a soft shot which is played overhead from the back of the court and lands on the opponent’s side of the court, as close to the net as possible.

The deception of the drop shot is what makes the shot so great. The aim is to make your overhead swing from the back of the court look the same, whether you are playing a clear, a smash or a drop shot. Then your opponent won’t be ready when you gently drop the shuttle over the net. There are three main types of drop shots, and each one can be played in a variety of ways. In this article, we will discuss the different types of drop shots, how and when to play them as well as some useful tips, tricks and drills to make your drop a winning shot.

Types of Drop Shots and How to Play Them

  • Slow Drop
  • Fast Drop
  • Slice Drop

Slow Drop Shot

The slow drop is the most common drop out of the three. As suggested by the name, the slow drop travels slowly through the air, in an arc shaped motion, to the other side of the court. With the slow drop, the aim is to land the shuttle as close as possible to the net. A good slow drop should land before the service line on your opponents side. It is important not to make the shuttle arc to high as this will give your opponent too much time to get to the shuttle. The slow drop can be played as a forehand and a backhand shot.

A schematic diagram demonstrating the flight path of a slow drop shot in badminton
A schematic showing where the shuttle should land for a slow drop

How to hit a Slow Drop Shot

1) Get Ready

Stand sideways with your non-racket foot closest the net. Raise both your racket and your non-racket arm. As a drop shot is all about deception, it is important that your ready position is also the same for your clear and smash too.

2) Anticipate the shuttle

Shift your weight onto your rear foot, bend the arm holding the racket and hold your non-racket arm up in the air to counter balance. To help you learn the technique, it is very helpful to use your non-racket arm to point at the shuttle.

3) Hit the shuttle

Swing the racket over your head, straightening your elbow and contacting the shuttle at the highest point. Hit the shuttle with a flat racket head. This is the point where the drop shot will differ from a clear (which will be hit hard and straight) and a smash (which will be hit hard and downwards). Instead of hitting the shuttle hard, you will gently hit the shuttle, with your wrist locked to maintain control, as your racket comes down and across your body. Upon contact with the shuttle, your racket leg should be stepping forward across your body to become the front leg, giving you a forward motion. This will send the shuttle slowly in the arc motion to the front of the court.

4) Continue the shot

Make sure you follow the shot through, shifting your weight from the rear to the front foot, with your racket swinging down and across your body. Do not finish the swing early thinking that this will take away the power for a drop shot. This is often the difference between a successful drop shot and the shuttle landing in the net.

Fast Drop Shot

The difference between a slow and a fast drop shot is, as you may have guessed, the speed of the shot. Much like the slow drop, a fast drop is still a deceptive shot aimed to surprise your opponent. The increased speed of a fast drop means that the angle of the shot is more like a smash but with less pace. This means that the shuttle often lands further from the net than a slow drop, but the advantage is that your opponent has less time to react to the shot. As the shuttle lands further from the net, it is best to keep a fast drop aimed towards the sides of the courts, around the tram lines, instead of in the centre of the court. Similar to the slow drop, the fast drop can be played as a forehand and a backhand shot.

A schematic diagram demonstrating the flight path of a fast drop shot in badminton
A schematic showing where the shuttle should land for a fast drop

How to hit a Fast Drop Shot

The general technique of hitting a fast drop shot is the same as a slow drop shot. The only difference is the point that you contact the shuttle and the power that you put into the shot. Instead of hitting the shuttle when it is directly above you like for a slow drop, take the shuttle when it’s slightly in front of you which will help direct the shuttle steeply downward. Add more power to the shot by following through more without taking as much pace off your swing as with a slow drop shot. Importantly, as with a slow drop, make sure that you continue the shot to completion, otherwise you will end up hitting the shuttle slowly over the net, to your opponents mid court, producing a shot that is easy to return.

Slice Drop Shot

The slice drop shot is by far the hardest and most effective of the three drop shots. The slice drop shot combines the speed of the fast drop with the direction of a slow drop shot, allowing you to get the shuttle close to the net, without the shuttle slowly looping over the net. However, unlike both the fast and the slow drops, the slice drop requires you to move your wrist in such a way when contacting the shuttle that you cut across the shuttle, slicing the shuttle downwards at pace, over the net and landing before the service line in your opponent’s court. By using your wrist, you risk losing control of the shuttle and putting it into the net instead of over it. But get it right and the slice drop shot can be an outright winner. Another benefit of using a slice drop is that you can deceptively change the direction of your drop to cross court. This can be achieved from either of the two back corners by rotating your wrist either clockwise or anticlockwise depending on the direction in which you want to send the shuttle.

How to Hit a Slice Drop Shot

Like the fast and the slow drop the motions in the lead up to hitting the shuttle are the same to ensure deception. The difference in a slice drop comes when contacting the shuttle with your racket. Instead of hitting the shuttle with a flat racket head and a locked wrist, you should rotate your wrist (clockwise for reverse slice or anticlockwise for normal slice) and cut across the shuttle. It is important that the rest of the swing is like a normal drop shot and that you put in enough power to counter the speed that has been taken away by the slicing action. Again, as with both the fast drop and slow drop, make sure that you continue the shot to completion.

The Benefits of Using a Badminton Drop Shot

Get your opponent out of position through deception. A drop shot is often a shot that can set you up for a winning shot. The deception of a drop shot can force your opponent into playing a poor shot, like a half court lift or a net shot that is not tight to the net, allowing you to win the rally with an easy smash or net kill. A deceptive drop shot can also disrupt your opponent’s footwork by causing them to scramble to the front of the court if they weren’t expecting the shot, allowing you to capitalize on their poor movement around the court.

Vary the pace of the game. Often in a game of badminton, both sides can get caught up in a smashing match where all the shots played are hit hard. So by playing a soft drop you can gain a movement advantage over your opponent who was likely expecting you to smash the shuttle. By varying your shots you can move your opponent around the court and try to work an opening to win the rally.

Win the rally. So far we have talked about using the drop shot to work an opening to win the rally. But another benefit of a drop shot is if played well, a drop shot can be an out-right winner. As we have talked about already, if your shot preparation is the same whether you are playing a drop, a clear or a smash then your opponent will never know what shot you are about to play, giving you the advantage.

When to Use a Drop Shot in Badminton

So far we have talked about the types of drop shots, how to play them and the advantages that they bring. However, when you play a drop is just as important, if not more important. You definitely don’t want to play a drop shot when your opponent is standing at the net for instance. We will go into specifics for both singles and doubles, but the ideal time of when to play a drop shot is often similar for both disciplines.

When to use a drop shot in singles

After a good clear or lift

If you play a successful clear or lift that gets in behind your opponent and they are struggling to get to the shuttle. Often they will struggle to get back to the centre of the court and get ready for the next shot. In this situation, playing a drop to the front of the court can either be a winner or at least lead to a winner.

Cross court after a clear

If you play a clear or a lift to one of the back corners and your opponent plays a clear back, it is often a good time to play a drop to the opposite front corner to where you played your previous shot to. This means that your opponent has to travel the furthest distance across the court to get to your shot. This can then force your opponent out of position and lead to you winning the rally.

A schematic showing when to use a drop shot in singles

A variation from a long serve

If your opponent is consistently playing a long high serve to the back of the court throughout the game, a drop can become a good alternative to a clear or a smash if you have been playing these consistently. This change and deception can often be a winner. If you do use this tactic, you must have played clears and smashes for several shots before changing to a drop. Also, as we have mentioned several times already, you should make sure that your preparation for all three shots are identical.

When to use a drop shot in Doubles

After a series of smashes

A good time to play a drop shot in doubles is often after a series of smashes. If at a point in the rally you play several smashes in a row from your opponents lifts then it may be a good point to play a drop. By playing a drop you can catch your opponent out by the change in pace and plus they were probably expecting a smash. This tactic can also work in singles.

If a player doesn't move forward after a clear

In doubles, when the shuttle is played high to the opponent, such as with a clear, doubles movement requires that the pair stand side to side to defend the attacking shot that may come next. This is instead of standing front and back which is often used for when attacking. A good time to drop is if the player who has played the clear doesn’t move forward quick enough. This can be because the clear had put them out of position or because they are expecting a smash. So playing a drop to that player’s front corner can be a very advantageous shot.’

A schematic showing when to use a drop shot in singles

When Not to Play a Drop Shot in Badminton

We have talked about some of the best times to play a drop shot in a badminton match, but there also are some specific occasions when you should not play a drop shot. Such as the obvious, when your opponent is standing at the net for instance.

When you are off balance or out of position

If you play a drop shot when you are off balance or out of position there is a good chance that your execution of the shot won’t be as good as a drop shot is all about finesse and accuracy. Therefore, you may end up playing the shuttle into the net or too high over the net, giving your opponent the advantage in the rally.

If your opponent is ready

The problem with a slow drop is that they take time to cross over the net, giving your opponent a lot of time to reach the shuttle. If your opponent isn’t under pressure and ready they can reach the shuttle early and play a tight net shot or even a net kill, making it very hard for you to recover the rally.

How to Defend Against and Return a Badminton Drop Shot

So far we have talked about using drop shots, but what if your opponent uses a drop shot against you. As the mark of a good drop shot is its deception, it is hard to anticipate and counter a good drop shot. But there are some general things that you can do to defend against a drop shot.

Improve your footwork

If you have good footwork, then you have the best weapon to counter a good drop shot. Just by getting back to the middle as quickly as possible allows you to be ready for wherever your opponent next puts the shuttle, even if it is a good drop shot. If you want to improve your footwork then check out our article on footwork drills for badminton.

Take the shuttle as high as possible

The reason you want your drop shot to pass as close to the net as possible is that it limits the shots that your opponent can play. Therefore, if your opponent plays a drop shot you will want to take the shuttle as high as possible so that you increase the shots you have available. It also increases your chances at playing a successful shot. For instance, it is very difficult to play a good net shot from close to the floor. A third reason to take the shuttle as high as you can is that this then takes time away from your opponent, giving you back the advantage in the rally. In badminton, every second counts.

Tips for Improving Your Drop Shot

Make your shot preparation the same every time

Practice your shot movement so that it looks exactly the same as your clear and smash. You can easily shadow this movement without a shuttle. Be conscious every time you go through the motion as to how the movement feels the same for each shot.

Take the shuttle high

Taking the shuttle as high as you can increase the angle at which the shuttle crosses the net. This is particularly important when playing a fast drop, as the higher you take the shuttle, the steeper the angle, the closer to the net the shuttle will land. Jumping can also increase the height at which you take the shuttle.

Complete a full arm swing

Make sure that when you play a drop shot, you follow through and complete the full motion of the shot. If you don’t, there might not be enough power in your shot and you risk putting the shuttle into the net. Also, by not finishing the swing it doesn’t look like a smash or a clear. It is good practice to make all of your shots look the same. We keep saying this … because it is important!

Practice your footwork

Quick and agile footwork to get you in position to play a drop shot is just as, if not more important than the racket swing itself. By having good footwork, you give yourself time to get into position and prepare to play the shot. This is also important for getting back to the middle after the shot so that you are ready for the return too.

Badminton Drop Shot Drills

Here are five drop shot drills that you can do to improve your drop shot. If you want to see a full description of each of the drills check out our drop shot drills article.

  1. Drop/Lift Routine (Pair Drill) – A good drill to practice the drop shot motion. One player lifts and the other player drops the shuttle back. Variations can be added for complexity.
  2. Drop-Net-Lift (Pair Drill) – A good drill to practice a drop shot with movement. Player 1 lifts, player 2 plays a drop, player 1 plays a net shot back. Player 2 now lifts and player 1 plays a drop. Variations can be added for complexity.
  3. Multi-shuttle Drop Shot Drill (Feeder drill) – Complex drill for more advanced players. You need to be able to, or have someone that can feed multiple shuttles. Good for practicing a drop shot with full court movement.
  4. Half Court Singles without Smashing (Pair Exercise) – A fun way to practice getting your drop shot as tight as possible, as your opponent knows it’s coming!
  5. Footwork (Solo Drill) – Not just good for practicing your drop shot, as anytime you are working on your badminton footwork, you’re improving every area of the game from helping you reach the shuttle quicker to returning to the middle of the court faster. 

Conclusion

So as you can see from this article, there is a lot to know about the humble badminton drop shot and I hope you have a new appreciation for the beauty of its deception.

In this article we have talked you through what a drop shot is, the types of drop shots and how to play them. From there we went on to discuss the benefits of playing a drop shot, as well as when you should and shouldn’t play one. We have given you some useful tips on how to defend a drop shot and how you can improve yours as well as some drills to achieve this.

Now that you have mastered the drop shot why don’t you look at our smash and clear articles to complete the set!

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