Base position or central base position in badminton is the position where you start all your shots from. It is one of the keys to good footwork because it provides a still and central starting point to every moment.
These two characteristics are very important for the following reasons:
By being still (not moving), you will be able to reach easily whichever corner of the court the shuttle goes. Instead, if you were moving towards the front and did not stop before your opponent hit the shuttle, you would have to change directions if the opponent sent the shuttle to the back of the court. Because of the inertia you would have because of moving to the front, you would find it much more energy and time-consuming to reach the shuttle in the back. On the other hand, if you are still, it is easy to move to whichever corner the shuttle is going to simply because there is no inertia to fight against.
By being central, you will be located at a similar distance to all the corners. This means that no matter to which location where your opponent hits the shuttle, you will only need to move a part of the court. Instead, if you were, for example, standing on the back after hitting the shuttle, your opponent could send the shuttle to the front and then you would have to rush all the court in order to reach it.
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Why is the central base position in badminton so important?
As we have already indicated in the previous section, the central base position in badminton is important because it allows you to start your movement after every shot from your opponent in the base possible way. By being in the center of your area of reach (the whole court if you are playing singles, but only part of the court if you are playing doubles), you minimize the distance you have to move in order to reach the shuttle and you avoid leaving any gaps where your opponent can send the shuttle.
Using the central base position gives you a mini restart after every shot. It ensures that before your opponent hits the shuttle every time, you are in the best position to reach the shuttle no matter where it goes. This will make sure you do not give any advantage to your opponent for the next shot. At a beginner’s level, it is quite common to stay in the position where you last hit the shuttle. This, contrary to returning to the central base position, will leave part of your court exposed where your opponent can attack you and where you will have a harder time reaching.
Where exactly is the central base position?
The central base position is not a specific point in the court where you can add a cross so you know you have to always return to that same specific point. Instead, it is an area you will define with time as it depends a lot on your personal skill set and also on your experience in the court. The central base position varies depending on the following factors:
- Whether you are playing singles or doubles
- Where you sent the last shot
- Where you expect the next shot to be
- How much time you have before your opponent hits the next shot
- Your skills and tactics
- Your opponent’s skills and tactics
The central base position depends on whether you are playing singles or doubles
As I mentioned before, the base position should be in the center of the area you are covering.
If you are playing singles, you are covering the whole court, so the central base position would be in the center of the singles court.
If, on the other hand, you are playing doubles, you are only covering part of the court. Which part of the court you are covering will depend on whether you are in an offensive or defensive formation. But the principle is here the same, you need to be located in the center of the area you need to cover. If you are in a defensive formation, you will be side by side with your teammate and you will be in the center of your side of the court. On the other hand, if you are in an offensive formation and you are on the back, you will be covering the back of the court so you will need to be roughly in the center of the back side of the court. Finally, if you are in an offensive formation but you are on the front near the net, you will be covering the front of the court so you will need to be roughly in the center of the front side of the court.
The central base position depends on where you sent your last shot
The central base position needs to adapt to the specific circumstances of the rally taking place. Depending on the last shot you have played, the base position will vary. If, for example, in a singles game you have played a net shot, the central base location after that shot will be more towards the net than towards the center. This slight change has two main reasons. First, net shots are very fast and, as a result, usually, you will not have much time to go all the way back to the center. The second main reason is related to the next point.
The central base position depends on where you expect the next shot to be
As we started in the previous section, if you hit a net shot, your central base point will be more towards the net. The specific distance from the net will depend largely on the type of shot you expect to receive back from your opponent.
If your net shot will land very close to the net and you don’t see a chance that your opponent will attack it, the central base position after that shot will be very close to the net because the most likely shot you will get from your opponent is a net shot, so you need to be close to the net to reach the return shot as fast as possible.
On the other hand, if your net shot will land a bit further away from the net and your opponent is as likely to return a net shot as it is to return a lob shot, your central base point should not be too close to the net because you need to be able to move to the back of the court if needed. However, since you have more time to react to a lob shot than to a net shot because they are slower shots, you still want to be closer to the net than to the back of the court.
The central base position depends on how much time you have before your opponent hits the next shot
One of the main advantages of the central base position is that it allows you to start your footwork movement towards the shuttle without having to fight any inertia from a previous movement. Therefore, you should always be in your central base position before your opponent hits the shuttle.
If you have not reached your ideal central base position, then wherever you are within the court will be your central base position and you will have to adapt from there. How do you do that? You stop your movement and do the split-step so you are standing still just before your opponent hits the shuttle. If you want to know a bit more about this, you can check our extensive footwork guide where we go deep into all the specifics about how to perform a split-step so you have a fast and effective footwork technique.
The central base position depends on your skills and tactics
Your skills and the tactics you use for the specific rally or match will have some influence on the exact base point. As the possibilities are endless, I am only giving you three examples so you can understand the principles behind the statement.
If you are a very fit and fast player, your central base position would always be very close to the ideal base position for that specific circumstance because you will be able to recover the position after your shots very fast.
Moreover, if you are a very offensive player, you might want to switch your base point a bit towards the front so you can attack as many shots as possible.
Finally, if you are a very tall player which can easily move towards the net but has difficulties moving towards the back, your central base position will be a bit more towards the back of the court than towards the front of the court.
The central base position depends on your opponent’s skills and tactics
In the same way that the central base position depends on your skills and tactics, it also depends on your opponent’s skills and tactics. You are playing against another individual or team, so their characteristics should always be taken into account when playing a game, and that includes where you position yourself in the court.
If, for example, you know that your opponent tends to play a lot of clear shots and that his/her drop shots tend to not be very accurate because the preference is for the rallies to last longer than to commit an error, you can move your central base point slightly towards the back of the court in order to have an easier time reaching the clear shots that will play such an important role in the tactic of your opponent.
General tips when putting into practice the central base position in badminton
As you have seen in the previous section, something that seems as simple as a central base position is actually very complicated and dependent on a lot of factors. With that in mind, the following are some general tips for putting into practice the central base position:
- Always remember that it is better a not ideal central base position than no central base position
- Keep in mind that you might need to adapt your ideal central base position to adapt to the developments of a match or rally
- Don’t worry excessively about the theory and prioritize practicing over a perfect understanding of the principles
Always remember that it is better a not ideal central base position than no central base position
As I mentioned before, the main advantage of the base position is that you can start your footwork towards the shuttle without having to fight against the inertia from your previous movement. Therefore, if you see that your opponent is going to hit the shuttle before you reach your ideal central base position, it is better to do the split-step before and start your movement from a not ideal position. Otherwise, you will continue towards the central base position and then you will have to fight the inertia of your movement in order to move to the location where your opponent has sent the shuttle.
Keep in mind that you might need to adapt your ideal central base position to adapt to the developments of a match or rally
The same that you might need to adapt your tactics to suit a specific match or rally, you might need to adapt your base position. If for example, you decide that you need to be more offensive because your opponent is controlling the match completely, your central base point will change along with that.
Don’t worry excessively about the theory and prioritize practicing over a perfect understanding of the principles
Having said all the above, please do not get onto a paralysis mode because of the number of things that you have to consider. Do not get either into a mindset of only applying the theory of the central base position whenever you understand it all. It is good to understand all the above but there are a lot of nuances that only practice and experience will teach you. Moreover, the best way to learn something is to practice it, not to read about it.
Therefore, be sure to put the idea of the central base position into practice from this moment on and you will naturally improve it the more you practice.
And with this, we have arrived at the end of this post. I hope you found something useful within these words. If you would like to know a bit more about the central base position and how it is connected to the split-step and to the overall footwork technique, please be sure to check our badminton footwork guide, where we dive deep into how the base position forms part of the most efficient and fast way to move through the court.