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Badminton Basics: 2. Backhand Grip

Dev Sukumar
5.22K   //    27 Mar 2012, 16:22 IST

Taufik Hidayat, master of the backhand, executes his favourite stroke

The backhand is the side most players are uncomfortable with, for it involves execution of strokes on the weaker side. Unlike the forehand, which resembles the more natural throwing action, the backhand is an unnatural action which needs to be learnt. To get the action right, we’ll start with the grip:

  1. Hold the racket by its throat with your left hand. Let the handle point towards you. Shake hands with it. The butt of your racket should not jut out from your hand. It should rest gently on your palms.
  2. The ‘V’ between thumb and forefinger should lie along the top side of the handle in line with the shaft and the outer side of the frame.
  3. Now, roll the racket about 30 degrees anti-clockwise so that the ‘V’ between thumb and index finger move towards the left side of the racket. Many players find that they can get more power from this grip as it gives the thumb more leverage on the flat side of the handle. However, there are also many players who use the basic grip to play backhand shots. There are also players who prefer to put their thumbs on the top side of the grip. Choose whichever grip you are comfortable with.

Changing your grip

To get used to changing grips, it is best to practice it outside the court. Try it when you’re not playing the game. Start off with the basic grip and use your fingers to roll the racket 30 degrees anti-clockwise to get a backhand grip. Change the grips back and forth randomly until changing grips comes naturally to you. This exercise will also help strengthen your fingers.

(* Excerpts from Basic Skills of Badminton: By Han Jian and Ooi Lay Beng)

China's Chen Long has a wicked backhand that surprises opponents

Fred Brundle’s advice:

It is possible we shall find many of the backhand strokes easier to make accurately if we change our grip slightly, the handle turning slightly, the racket head turning away from the body and the thumb pointing up the ‘flat’ of the handle grip.

If you are teaching yourself badminton, you will want as little alternative advice as possible. You will not want any confusion in your mind. So my advice is to use the thumb-up method, suitable for the majority of players of both sexes.

The use of the wrist:

Take out your pocket handkerchief. Hold the two ends in your hand, stand an old shuttle or a plastic mug on the table in front of you and strike the object sideways, to knock it off the table. Note how the wrist cocks, then unwinds itself at the moment of impact imparting a flicking movement to the folded handkerchief. It is the same action as whipping a top.

The backhand cocking movement is similar. Set up your target again and flick it down. The movement is a backhand slap. Practise that for a while until you have the idea. Better still if you have balloons. These are ideal for backhand practice with just your hand.

Taufik Hidayat again, showing the role of the thumb in the backhand

Checking your grip:

Ken Davidson, granddaddy of badminton coaching, has these tips to offer:

By using the ‘thumb-up backhand grip’ your thumb acts as a lever and adds control and power as it helps to guide the racket forward to meet the shuttle. Your little finger side of the hand leads the way, with the palm of your hand facing the floor, as your racket goes forward on all backhand strokes.

Tip 1: Four knuckles should be seen, though if your hand is small, only three might show. Never bunch your fingers closely together and hold your racket as though it were a club.

Other articles in this series:

1. The grip

3. More on the grip

Topics you might be interested in:
Dev Sukumar
Dev S Sukumar is the recipient of the Badminton World Federation (BWF) Media Award, 2011. He is India's most widely travelled badminton writer, having covered several international tournaments, including the Olympics, the Asian Games, the CWG Games, World Championships, the All England, the Denmark Open, the Malaysia Open, etc. He has covered badminton for over ten years now. During this period he has met fascinating characters, witnessed great matches, and has authored a biography of Indian badminton great Prakash Padukone. He has written on the game for several publications, including Sports Illustrated, Mint, Badminton Asia magazine, The New Indian Express, Hindustan Times, DNA and IANS. He tweets at
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