To win in badminton, players need to employ a wide variety of strokes in the right situations. These range from powerful jumping smashes to delicate tumbling net returns. Often rallies finish with a smash, but setting up the smash requires subtler strokes. For example, a netshot can force the opponent to lift the shuttlecock, which gives an opportunity to smash. If the netshot is tight and tumbling, then the opponent's lift will not reach the back of the court, which makes the subsequent smash much harder to return. Deception is also important. Expert players prepare for many different strokes that look identical, and use slicing to deceive their opponents about the speed or direction of the stroke. If an opponent tries to anticipate the stroke, he may move in the wrong direction and may be unable to change his body momentum in time to reach the shuttlecock.
Both pairs will try to gain and maintain the attack, smashing downwards when possible. Whenever possible, a pair will adopt an ideal attacking formation with one player hitting down from the rearcourt, and his partner in the midcourt intercepting all smash returns except the lift. If the rearcourt attacker plays a dropshot, his partner will move into the forecourt to threaten the net reply. If a pair cannot hit downwards, they will use flat strokes in an attempt to gain the attack. If a pair is forced to lift or clear the shuttlecock, then they must defend: they will adopt a side-by-side position in the rear midcourt, to cover the full width of their court against the opponents' smashes. In doubles, players generally smash to the middle ground between two players in order to take advantage of confusion and clashes.
At high levels of play, the backhand serve has become popular to the extent that forehand serves almost never appear in professional games. The straight low serve is used most frequently, in an attempt to prevent the opponents gaining the attack immediately. Flick serves are used to prevent the opponent from anticipating the low serve and attacking it decisively.
At high levels of play, doubles rallies are extremely fast. Men's doubles is the most aggressive form of badminton, with a high proportion of powerful jump smashes.
The singles court is narrower than the doubles court, but the same length, serve in the single and double back box is out. Since one person needs to cover the entire court, singles tactics are based on forcing the opponent to move as much as possible; this means that singles strokes are normally directed to the corners of the court. Players exploit the length of the court by combining lifts and clears with drop shots and net shots. Smashing is less prominent in singles than in doubles because players are rarely in the ideal position to execute a smash, and smashing often leaves the smasher vulnerable if the smash is returned.
In singles, players will often start the rally with a forehand high serve. Low serves are also used frequently, either forehand or backhand. Flick serves are less common, and drive serves are rare.
At high levels of play, singles demands extraordinary fitness. Singles is a game of patient positional manoeuvring, unlike the all-out aggression of doubles.
In mixed doubles, both pairs try to maintain an attacking formation with the woman at the front and the man at the back. This is because the male players are substantially stronger, and can therefore produce smashes that are more powerful. As a result, mixed doubles requires greater tactical awareness and subtler positional play. Clever opponents will try to reverse the ideal position, by forcing the woman towards the back or the man towards the front. In order to protect against this danger, mixed players must be careful and systematic in their shot selection.
At high levels of play, the formations will generally be more flexible: the top women players are capable of playing powerfully from the rearcourt, and will happily do so if required. When the opportunity arises, however, the pair will switch back to the standard mixed attacking position, with the woman in front.
Left Handed Singles
A left-handed player has a natural advantage against a right-handed player. This is because there are more right-handed players in the world (you are not used to playing them). When you play a southpaw, the forehand and backhand are reversed, so that a shot to your right of the court (the backhand of right-handed players) will result in a very powerful smash against you. Because of this, left-handed players tend to have more shots directed to their forehand, and consequently their backhand is not properly trained. Therefore, the main weakness of a southpaw is his backhand. Knowing this, a left-handed player should try to direct most of his shots to the left side of the court. That is because even though it is the forehand of a right-handed person, the return of that shot will also be on your forehand (it is much harder to perform a cross-court shot than a parallel shot). That will ensure that you can keep smashing. It is said that left-handers have better smashes. It is partly true because of the rare angles that a left-hander is capable of producing (a parallel smash on the left side of the court, rather than a slightly angled shot), and also because the feathers on the shuttlecock are placed in a way that favors a left-handed shot (the shuttlecock will have more speed when sliced with a left-handed person's forehand, thus producing a much more powerful smash). Though, a left-handed player himself will be confused when playing a fellow counterpart.
Left handed/Right handed doubles pair
The LH/RH doubles pair is very common at advanced levels of play. That is because they have a distinct advantage over a RH/RH or LH/LH pair. The most notable advantage is that neither side of the court is a weak side. This makes it so that the opposing team have to use more time to think of which side is the backhand and send it there, because against a normal RH/RH pair, you would usually almost always send it to your right side of the court, whilst against a LH/RH pair the weak side changes during the rally. Another advantage is also in the smash of a left-handed player. The feathers of a shuttlecock are placed to have a natural spin, so when slightly slicing the shuttlecock with a left-handed shot, you counter that natural spin which creates drag and produce a faster smash. The same effect goes when a right-handed player slices the shot with his backhand. A very good example of this is Tan Boon Heong, a left-handed player who holds the world record with a 421 km/h smash.