Featured Image Badminton Defense Shot

Badminton Defense Shot

What is a defense shot in badminton?

A defense shot in badminton is when you return a smash from your opponent, usually with a stroke from below your waist.

This shot is used both in singles and in doubles. The main objective of this shot is to keep yourself inside the rally after your opponent has performed a very offensive shot. However, depending on the positioning of your opponent when performing a smash and on the accuracy of your shot, it can also serve to turn the tides of the rally and recover the initiative.

What are the different types of defense shots in badminton?

There are mostly six types of defense shots in badminton. They are as follows:

  • Low parallel defense
  • Low crosscourt defense
  • Medium parallel defense
  • Medium crosscourt defense
  • High parallel defense
  • High crosscourt defense

Low parallel defense

The low parallel defense shot consists of returning the smash with a parallel shot that lands very close to the net. This type of shot is mostly used in singles.

In singles, this is one of the standard ways to return a smash. It is easy to return because you are making a parallel shot and it does not require much power since you simply use the power of the smash in order to send the shuttle back. Moreover, it will make your opponent move around and he or she will no longer have much of the initiative.

In doubles, because one of the opponents will be near the net, this is a very risky shot and should be done only sparingly when you see a good opportunity.

Low crosscourt defense

The low crosscourt defense shot consists of returning the smash with a crosscourt shot that lands very close to the net. This type of shot is mostly used in singles.

In doubles, because one of the opponents will be near the net, this is a very risky shot and should be done only sparingly when you see a good opportunity, especially if the opponent on the net is not covering that side of the court well enough.

Medium parallel defense

The medium parallel defense shot consists of returning the smash with a parallel shot that lands in the middle of the court and that follows a flat trajectory. This type of shot is used both in singles and in doubles.

In singles, it is a low-risk shot that you can try to perform when the smash is directed somewhere close to your position and therefore you do not need to move too much in order to reach it. With this type of shot, you try to change the initiative of the point so you can take control of the rally.

In doubles, this defense is aimed at gaining the initiative of the point by going from a defensive formation into an offensive one. The risk with this type of shot is that the opponent covering the net will intercept it and attack it. Therefore, in doubles, this shot should be done only when you can send the shuttle flying very close to the net edge.

Medium crosscourt defense

The medium crosscourt defense shot consists of returning the smash with a crosscourt shot that lands in the middle of the court, following a flat trajectory. This type of shot is used both in singles and in doubles, even though it is a very risky shot for doubles.

In singles, this can be a good option if your opponent has performed a parallel smash and you are in a good position when hitting the shuttle. By sending it crosscourt, your opponent will have to cover more ground and you are more likely to recover the initiative of the point. However, technically, this is a more complicated shot to perform and control than the straight defense, so the chances of making a mistake are higher.

In doubles, this defense is aimed at gaining the initiative of the point by going from a defensive formation into an offensive one. However, due to the fact that you are sending it crosscourt, the chances of the opponent in the net being able to intercept it are higher. So you should only use it if you see that the opponent is protecting too much the parallel side or you think you can take him or her by surprise.

High parallel defense

The high parallel defense shot consists of returning the smash with a straight shot that lands in the back of the court, following an upward trajectory, similar to the one of the high serve. This type of shot is used both in singles and in doubles. In fact, it is the go-to choice when playing in a defense position in doubles.

In singles, this can be a difficult shot to perform if you reach the shot in a forced position. Since one of the main tactics in singles is moving your opponent around, sending the shuttle again to the backcourt is not a preferred option. As a result, this is not one of the most used defenses in singles, although it still has its uses.

In doubles, this defense is the standard response whenever you are in a defensive formation. It is the standard because it is the one with the lowest risk and allows the point to continue. However, if you do not take the risk and keep repeating this shot, you will most likely end up losing the rally.

High crosscourt defense

The high crosscourt defense shot consists of returning the smash with a crosscourt shot that lands in the back of the court, following an upward trajectory, similar to the one of the high serve. This type of shot is used both in singles and in doubles. However, it not so common in either of the modalities. But for different reasons that we are going to see now.

In singles, this can be a very difficult shot to perform if you reach the shot in a forced position. It is even more difficult to perform than the straight version because you need to change the direction of the shuttle and you need to apply more power to it since the distance that needs to be covered in order to reach the back with a crosscourt shot is longer.

In doubles, this defense is used if you want to change the location of the opponent that is smashing. This can be done if your partner is a better defender than you are. Then it makes sense to do a crosscourt so he or she is in the parallel line. However, this shot is riskier than the straight shot because the opponent on the net can potentially intercept it when you are trying to do the crosscourt.

When should you use each defense type?

Low straight defense

In singles, this should be your go-to response to a smash, since it is the easiest to perform and, if done correctly, might help you gain the initiative of the point.

In doubles, you should use this shot only if the opponent that is on the net is not very good at attacking the shuttles that go there. Otherwise, unless your shot is very precise, this is a recipe for danger.

Low crosscourt defense

In singles, you should use this shot if the opponent performs a parallel smash that is not very accurate or powerful and you can defend it without too much trouble. In this case, sending it crosscourt is the furthest point from his hitting location, so you can gain the advantage of the point if your defense is accurate enough.

In doubles, you should use this shot sparingly, only when the opponent that is on the net is protecting too much the parallel side and you think you can surprise him or her. Otherwise, it is very likely to end up in a lost point.

Medium straight defense

In singles, you should use this shot if the smash was not very powerful or accurate and you can defend it easily. This way, you can recover the initiative of the point.

In doubles, you can use this shot as a way to recover the initiative. However, be careful with the opponent that is on the net. If your shot is not accurate and fast enough, your opponent can easily catch it at the net and finish the point.

Medium crosscourt defense

In singles, you should use this shot if the smash was not very powerful or accurate and you can defend it easily. This way, you can recover the initiative of the point or even win the point. However, this is a complicated shot to perform so know your strengths and only do it if you know you have a high chance of succeeding.

In doubles, you can use this shot as a way to recover the initiative. However, because of the fact that you are sending it crosscourt, the chances of the opponent in the net are higher. So only use it if you see that the opponent is not protecting enough the crosscourt area.

High parallel defense

In singles, you can use this shot for quite a few different reasons. If, for example, you are in a much better physical condition than your opponent, one tactic is to lengthen all the rallies in order to wear him or her down. If that is your approach, high parallel defenses are an excellent way to keep the rally going. Sometimes this can be a good idea in order to apply the movement pressure. Players find it most difficult to go back to the same position, so doing some high parallel defenses can help.

In doubles, this is the go-to response to a smash. It is the easiest shot to control and the safest in terms of the net opponent catching the shuttle. However, if all you do is return the smashes with high defenses, you will most likely lose the rally.

High crosscourt defense

In singles, you can use this shot if the opponent is quickly moving towards the front and you want to surprise him or her. However, please note that, in singles, this is probably the most challenging shot to perform out of the six. It requires skill and power, so only use it if you know your defense will reach the back of the court.

In doubles, this is a good option if you want to move the focus of the game towards your teammate. This way, by doing a crosscourt defense, the most likely next shot from your opponents is a parallel smash to your teammate. However, please note that the high crosscourt defense is slightly riskier than the parallel version. This is because, in the crosscourt version, the opponent on the net has a chance of catching the shuttle during its flight and ending the point.

How do you improve your defense shots?

Defense shots can be quite tricky to perform. As I always say, the key to improve a skill is deliberate practice. However, you also need a good understanding of the basics in order to perform this shot properly. Below are the basics I think are most important for all types of defense.

A good ready position will help you react faster

By being in a good ready position, you can ensure your reaction time is decreased. This is especially true when playing doubles because the chances of receiving a smash are much higher. Therefore, you can focus the ready position on returning a smash.

In the ready position for receiving a smash in doubles, your center of gravity needs to be low and your hands need to be in front of your body. While in this position, you need to hold your racket with the backhand grip. It is very important that your grip is relaxed and that you only tighten it just before hitting the shuttle.

Our friends from Badminton Famly have a great tutorial for the defense shot in doubles.

The split-step in singles will help you move to the sides before

If you are playing singles instead of doubles, the ready position cannot be as specialized. This is because the variety of shots you can receive and the distance you need to cover in order to reach them are bigger. Therefore, what is important in singles is to do a split-step just before your opponent is about to smash so you can react to the shuttle and move to the proper side as fast as possible.

Our friends from Badminton Famly have a great tutorial explaining how to perform the split step.

Final words

And with this, we have arrived at the end of this post. Are you missing any information you would like me to add? Then let me know in the comments below!

If you liked this post, you can check our badminton shots post, where we explain briefly all the different badminton shots and we give links to all the different posts we have about them.

License for featured image

This file is licensed under the  This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Attribution: Florentyna, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

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