By Sue Rutson
One of the fastest and most exciting games of badminton is the game of mixed doubles!
The strategies for playing, challenges the knowledge of the game and the minds of the players every second of the way. It allows the different strengths of the two players to synchronise as one complete unit, to challenge the skills of the opposition!
While you use strategies and tactics to maintain your own strong positional play, you aim to break down the attacking formation of the opposing side!
For the woman it takes courage, and fast reflexes to maintain the net position and to put pressure on the opposition to lift. It is she who sets up the opportunities that allows her partner to smash!
The man must be a great tactician, knowing the strokes to play to keep the attacking formation that keep his partner safely employed at the net.
It is mentally exhilarating, physically fast, and the most attacking badminton there is in my view!
This article is a brief introduction to mixed doubles, it doesn't take the place of physical 'on-court' coaching, but it does give a bit of theory that you can apply to your game. I recommend that you take one idea at a time to apply in some friendly games. You should notice the game becoming easier and easier and you resulting higher scores and more wins.
The general rule of mixed doubles is for the woman to be in the fore-court and the man to be in the rear-court. This, is because more usually than not, the man tends to be stronger than the woman. However, it is important to remember that as in level doubles, the front player should be the dominant player!
All bases are fluid, and depend on where the shuttle is at any point during the game. The front player should aim to be about a rackets length behind the service line. If your position is too close to the net, your reaction time is shortened and you are 'out of the game'.
Take up a position on the same side of the court as your partner, but be ready to cut out any cross-court replies from the opposition.
The player standing closer to the net has far less time to see what is happening, therefore, they must react quickly to the shuttle and decide immediately, whether to hit it or leave it. The player in the rear-court has longer to react to the shuttle and can also see the WHOLE of the court, including his partner!
In order to retain this very successful and attacking positioning, the players need to use downward hitting shots whenever possible! Shots played to the sides of the court are recommended, because this forces the opposition to move in order to hit the shuttle. This creates a space and may also force a weak reply.
WHERE TO TAKE UP DEFENCE
A = Attack B = Defence
When the shuttle is lifted, the woman must drop back to defend, as staying at the net could result in injury to the eye! To employ a strong defence the defending pair should take up an equal-distance formation in the mid-court area as shown in the diagram. The Female partner should always cover the cross-court reply. This means that she should take the position on the opposite side of the court to the shuttle when lifted causing her to be the same distance from the shuttle as her partner.
This is clearer to see in the second diagram.
By ensuring that the woman takes up this defensive position, the male partner can reach the shuttle easily if it goes behind his partner. This is because the shuttle has further to go and thus provides time for the male to move to the shuttle. It also enables the pair to achieve an attack formation again.
It should be remembered, that once a mixed pair has lost the attack and takes up defence, the male partner covers 3/4 of the court. He needs to cover the area in front of him and the area to the rear of his partner. This is shown by the shaded area on fig 2. By doing this you maintain your attack formation!
WHICH SHOTS SHOULD BE PLAYED FROM DEFENCE
The defending pair should aim to turn their defence into attack. This can be achieved by taking the shuttle early, and by using shots that force the opponents to hit the shuttle upwards. In order to do this, shots such as pushes, net shots, and blocks may be used. When playing shots to the net the defenders should be very aware of the front player (at the net) and push the shuttle away from this player toward the tramlines.
If you play a lift to the rear-court, which maintains the position of defence, at least ensure that it is deep and forces the opponent into the rear-court and creates as much pressure as possible. The pressure is created because the opposition have to move some distance to get to the shuttle! When lifting, also remember to shift the wedge defence shape too!
If a defending pair is forced into playing a lift (defensive stroke) then it is important to remember the following.
The lady should lift cross court to maintain her diagonal base and save wasted movement.
The man should lift straight to take the faster return and maintain his straight base.
LADY RECEIVING A HIGH SERVE
The two recommended and most effective shots are:
• This is best played straight as it brings the opposing male partner forward which breaks up the opposing attack formation.
• Played well it should produce a lift.
• It gives the lady time to recover towards the net.
Cross court Clear
• This takes the opposition by surprise as many women find it a difficult shot to produce when they are less experienced players.
• It enables the lady to recover forward to the wedge defence formation.
MAN RECEIVING A LOW SERVE
If the woman is not particularly strong, then she should be based close to the 'T' as she should ensure that she remains in the front of the court. In this situation the male receiver cannot commit himself to attacking the low serve unless the service is poor and he can guarantee that his shot will not be returned!
The receiver should attempt to play a reply to the forecourt or mid-court that will allow him to recover to an attacking position behind his lady. He should remember that he must recover all replies from his rear-court and mid-court areas immediately after receiving the serve.
If the lady partner is reasonably competent then she could take up a position just behind the male receiver and he should feel free to attack the serve. In this position the receiving male is putting pressure on the server as the positioning of the pair indicates that the male is fully committed to the attack! The server has now no room for error! The woman is expected to cover a returning shuttle if necessary, that allows her to return to a forward base, whilst her partner recovers to a base behind her once more.
THE MENTAL SIDE
Now, I could write a whole book on this bit, but I'm going to keep it as brief as I can. The mental part of any game is 80%, what is your attitude to winning, or even, losing like?
How do you prepare for the game, not just physically, but mentally too? Do you have a picture in your mind about all the fantastic shots you CAN play? Do you mentally rehearse winning? Or do you go over every loss, every mistake you made last time you played? Do you see and focus on your opposition's strengths or their weaknesses?
Be aware of your thinking!
Here are some tips to help you create a winning edge!
1. Mentally rehearse, by remembering all the best shots and wins you have had, because whatever you focus on, is what you get!
2. Check your posture! When arriving at your playing venue for matches, walk in TALL! Your mental state is affected by your physical state! So, stay strong in body, even if you make a mistake in play!
3. Always take responsibility! Even if your partner is having a rough time and making unforced errors, your response can either get them back into winning strokes or push them deeper into despair! Praise concentration and effort, stay positive and make no comment on their mistakes!
4. You know when YOU make a mistake, and you don't need someone else highlighting it even more do you?!
5. Use positive language, at all times to your partner! Words such as 'unlucky' or 'lucky' detract from the skills you have as a player! Of course, if you are mean, you can use them to the opposition!
6. Focus on the weakness of your opponents.
7. Focus on the strengths of you and your partner
8. Use your imagination effectively! If you want a good serve, see it first!
9. Expect the best from your partner. Moods and energy are reflected back at you, so, expecting excellence and success, usually means that you will get that back. If you smile, have acceptance of mistakes and learn from them, your partner will enjoy playing with you and perform at their best!
This is not an extensive information sheet but, if you want any more help with your game, contact me and I will be happy to help.
Have fun on court!
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