Ready position in badminton is the position in which you await the next shot from your opponent. It is the position you are in just before performing the split step. It is used because it helps you to react faster to the shot from your opponent. Depending on the modality you are playing and on the specific moment within the rally, this ready position can change a lot. In the following post, we are going to explain why this ready position changes and the 8 most common ready positions you can find in badminton.
The ready positions change a lot depending on the modality you are playing. If you play singles, the exact location and posture of the ready position will be different than if you play doubles, even for the same act as receiving the serve.
Also, the ready position is different depending on the moment of the rally. Following the example of the service, your ready position to receive the service will be completely different from the one you will be in when you are in the middle of a rally and you just performed a clear shot.
This dependence on the context tends to be overlooked very often, but it is an important item to keep in mind. It is the same we already discussed in our post regarding the central position in badminton. In that post, we also explained how dependent on the modality and the specific moment within the rally the exact central position was.
The ready position and the central position are just two different parts of the same thing. It is like the yolk and the white of an egg. Whereas in the central position in badminton we discussed mostly the exact location within the court, in the ready position post we are going to talk about your stance while in that location.
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Why does ready position change depending on the modality and the moment within the rally?
To answer the question simply, the ready position changes because the ready position is designed in order to simplify and speed up your most likely next movements.
To elaborate a bit more on the answer, let’s have a look at a few examples in order to understand the concept better.
Why does ready position change depending on the modality?
Regarding the difference in modality, the difference lays basically on the type of game that is usually played and the number of people on the court, which has an impact on the area you have to cover.
When playing doubles, the main target is to gain the initiative of the rally. Therefore, the positions in the court are specialized in order to optimize this. To go along with that, the ready positions are also specialized to reflect whether you have the initiative of the point or not.
On the other hand, when playing singles, the main target is to keep a fast reaction time to the wide variety of shots you can receive. Moreover, since you need to cover more court area, the ability to move fast to the point where the shuttle is going is critical.
So, to look at the difference between singles and doubles with a more concrete example, let’s see the difference in a defensive ready position.
If you are in a defensive ready position in doubles, the main focus is on trying to cover your side of the court, with a smash being the most likely shot you will receive. Therefore, in this case, because your focus is on returning a shot that will be very close to you, your ready position will have the following main characteristics:
- Lower than the usual center of gravity in order to be able to be close to the location where you will receive the shot.
- Racket will be tilted towards your backhand since this is the easiest way to return a smash.
This is different from a defensive ready position in singles. In singles, because you need to cover the whole court, your ready position needs to focus on a fast reaction towards on of the two sides of the court, where the smash will most likely go. Therefore, in this instance, the ready position will have the following main characteristics:
- Not so low the center of gravity since being too low will impede a fast movement.
- The racket position will be more centered since you can either receive the smash on your backhand or on your forehand.
Why does ready position change depending on the moment within the rally?
To explain why ready position changes depending on the moment within the rally, we will compare the ready position for a serve and one within the rally. This is done because they are quite different so it helps see the contrast much easily.
In the case of a service, you only cover a part of the court, so the need to cover all the court is omitted. Moreover, you will only receive certain types of shots from your opponent, since he has always to hit the shuttle below the waist. Because of these characteristics, the ready position is offensive, since you need to worry little about covering the whole court or about losing the rally with that shots from your opponent. On the other hand, if you are in the middle of the rally and your opponent has the initiative, your priorities have changed and now your aim is to cover the whole court and to react as fast as possible to the most likely shot you are about to receive. With the context is so much different, your ready position changes in order to optimize for the context.
Having explained why the ready position changes, let’s have a look at the 8 main ready positions that exist in badminton.
Ready positions in singles
We will start with the ready positions in singles.
Because you need to cover all the court by yourself, the range of shots you can receive and the distance you will have to cover to reach that shot vary a lot. For these reasons, ready positions in singles are always a bit less extreme and always carry with them a certain degree of flexibility that the ready positions in doubles do not.
Standard ready position in singles
This is the most common ready position of all and the one you have probably read more about if you have visited other sites that talk about the same topic.
This is the ready position you want to be in if you are in the middle of the rally and neither you nor your opponent has the initiative of the rally. It is, for example, the ready position you will be in after serving a high serve.
In this case, being based roughly at the center of the court, the ready position is as follows:
- Your legs must be slightly more than shoulder-width apart.
- Your legs must be slightly flexed in order to keep your center of gravity a bit lower.
- Your feet must not be flat on the floor, but with the heels slightly raised so that the weight of your body is moved a bit towards the toes. This will ensure a faster reaction time.
- Your racket hand should be at roughly your waist level, with the racket pointing slightly towards your backhand and in a natural position for the hand.
Offensive ready position in singles
What I call the offensive ready position in singles is used when you are playing close to the net and you are expecting a shot that might give you the opportunity to finish the rally with a kill shot. In this case, your ready position will switch.
With your central base position being more towards the net than with the standard base position, the offensive ready position would be as follows:
- Your legs will be not aligned, but your racket leg will be placed more to the front so that it is easier for you to make a jump towards the net if needed.
- Your legs will be less flexed than with the standard position since what you want is to be able to jump forward easily and you don’t need the ability to move to the sides.
- You will be standing even more on your toes than with the standard ready position since that also helps you jump faster towards the net.
- The racket should be higher up, with your hand being at around your shoulder’s height. The exact location and orientation of the racket depend on whether you are expecting the shot on your forehand or on your backhand.
Defensive ready position in singles
What I call the defensive ready position in singles is used when you are expecting your opponent to perform a smash in order to try to finalize the rally.
In this case, your central base position will be slightly more towards the back than with the standard central position, and your ready position will be as follows:
- Your legs will slightly more apart than with the standard position.
- You will bring your center of gravity lower by flexing your legs more than in the standard position. This will help you react easier to the smashes and be in a height where you can return the shot more comfortably.
- Your racket will be at your waist height but pointing flat instead of a bit up. In addition to that, it should be a bit more tilted towards your backhand than with the standard ready position.
Receiving ready position in singles
The receiving ready position in singles will depend a bit on your strengths and weaknesses and also on the strengths and weaknesses of your opponent and his serving style. If, for example, your opponent tends to serve high, your position will be a bit more relaxed than if he or she tends to serve low.
If you want to know a bit more about badminton service, you can check our complete badminton service guide, where we explain how to serve and what different types of badminton service you can find.
Going back to the ready position, although there will be some small variations depending on the type of service you expect to receive, the overall basics are the same. We will explain here the principles for a ready position if you are expecting a high serve. The low serve will be covered in the doubles modality below. These are as follows:
- Place your non-racket foot forward, flat on the floor.
- Lean slightly forward, so that your head is roughly at the same position as your non-racket foot.
- Make sure that the racket foot, which will be on the back, is helping you stay balanced by standing on your toes.
- Place your racket in front of you so that the head of the racket is roughly at the same height as your face, crossing it slightly in front of you
- Use your non-racket arm as a final balancing tool, locating it also in front of your face at the same height as the other arm.
You can check the video below from Youtube for an example of what I explained here.
In singles, sometimes you will not perform a ready position
As a final note regarding ready positions in singles, it is important to notice that, because a lot of times there will be no waiting in the center position when playing singles, it can also be that you do not use the ready position. These will be moments where you go directly from the return movement towards the central position to the split step in order to move on the next move.
In the video below you will see how the players are hardly standing still in the center of the court, while at the same time explaining how context-dependent the center position is.
Ready positions in doubles
As far as doubles are concerned, the ready positions have more differences between them because the game is more polarized. In singles, you have a lot of moments when neither player has the initiative of the rally and once one of them has taken a clear initiative, the rally tends to finish quite fast. In doubles, on the other hand, one of the two teams will almost always have the initiative and it is harder to finish a rally even with a clear advantage.
Since there is less room to cover for each person and fewer shots to shoot, but less reaction time, the ready position becomes more important.
Offensive ready position in doubles while being in the net
If you have the initiative on doubles, you and your partner will be in an attacking formation, meaning that one of you would be in the front of the court to play the net shots and try to catch any middle court shots, and the other one will be on the back of the court, smashing and trying to keep the initiative.
If you are in the front, then your ready position (while your partner is smashing everything in sight) is as follows:
- Feet must be shoulder-width apart. Depending on the specific location of the shuttle, one of the two feet might be slightly more towards the front to help with the movement towards the shuttle.
- You should be standing on your toes in order to be able to jump towards the shuttles whenever needed.
- Your two arms should be up, with your racket hand being just at the height of your forehead.
Offensive ready position in doubles while being in the back
If you are in the back, then your ready position is as follows:
- Feet must be shoulder-width apart.
- Your heels should be slightly raised so that the weight of the body is more towards the toes that towards the heels, but not as much as in the case of being in the front.
- Your arms should be a bit higher than your waist height, with the racket pointing a bit upwards.
Defensive ready position in doubles
If you are defending in doubles instead of attacking, then you would be in a defensive (or side by side) formation. In this instance, your aim is to keep the rally going as long as possible and try to find an opening for you to gain the initiative of the rally. For this situation, the ready position is similar to the defensive ready position in singles but more extreme. It is as follows:
- Feet must be more than shoulder-width apart, almost like squatting
- Your heels should be slightly raised so that the weight of the body is more towards the toes that towards the heels. This is in order to be able to react to any shot you might receive. If you think you will almost for sure receive a smash, then you can stay with your feet flat on the floor.
- Your racket arm should be slightly flexed so that the racket is quite low and in front of you. It should also be tilted a bit towards your backhand since most defense shots in doubles are performed with the backhand.
- Your non-racket arm should be on the side balancing your position and to help you react to the shot of your opponent.
Receiving ready position in doubles
The receiving ready position in doubles assumes that the most likely shot you will receive is a low serve. In this case, the most important factor is trying to gain the initiative of the point from the beginning, so putting a lot of pressure on the service is critical. To achieve this, the ready position in doubles will move more towards the net in order to put a bit more pressure on the server. The ready position is as follows:
- Taking as a base the receiving ready position in singles, you will lower your center of gravity by flexing both legs a bit more.
- You will increase your reaction capacity by raising both heels more so that the front leg is standing on the front side of the foot and the back leg is standing on the toes.
- The racket needs to be high up so that you can react to the service with a shot that is as attacking as possible.
And with this last type of ready position, we have arrived at the end of this post. Are you missing any ready position or do you have any doubts about what has been explained here? If so, let us know in the comments below!