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Singles Tactics #4, On the Same Corners

Updated: Jan 6

Is it a good tactic to hitting on the same corner? Most of the players ignore this. Although it might seem better to hit different corners every time, it is more effective to maintain pressure first on a single corner, before eventually switching the attack to a different corner.

 
 

When moving to any other corner, however, the opponent can maintain at least one component of his momentum. In other words, the change of direction is easier for him. Example:

Suppose that the opponent is recovering from his forehand rear corner.


Consider what happens if the player hit the shuttlecock to one of the other three corners: 1. The opponent can use his forward momentum to help reach his forehand front corner.

2. He can use his sideways momentum to help reach his backhand rear corner.

3. He can use all his momentum to help reach his backhand front corner. However, if the player hit the shuttlecock to his forehand rear corner again, then he cannot use any of his momentum: the opponent must completely reverse his recovery movement and move back to where he just came from.

Which corner to use


This tactic tends to be most effective when the player uses a rear corner.


It also works for front corners, but carries an element of risk: it’s usually dangerous to play several net shots in a row. After the opponent plays a net shot, he is usually well-positioned for reaching for the net shot. It’s rare to see a protracted sequence of net shots; net shot rallies are unstable in that one player will soon play a net kill or a tumbling net shot that is impossible to return. If your opponent keeps lifting, however, you could keep playing drop shots to the same corner. A lift-drop-lift-drop sequence is more stable than a net-net-net sequence.

 

Singles Tactics #3, Hitting to the Corners

 


Psychological manipulation Hitting several times to the same corner is also a psychological tactic.


 
 

But the opponent is not purely rational, then his behavior is influenced by his psychological state. In this case, there are several possible causes:


  • Laziness

  • The desire to punish the player for what the opponent believes is a poor tactic.

  • The subconscious influence of observing a pattern.


Laziness Many players are fundamentally lazy. If they think they can guess where the player will play the shuttlecock next, then the opponent will not bother to cover other shots. This is a combination of physical and mental laziness. Players are physically lazy because they don’t want to make the physical effort for a full recovery; and mentally lazy because they don’t want to make the mental effort to be ready for all the different shots.

Anticipation can be a good thing because it allows the player to gain an advantage: if the player is able to predict the opponent’s shot, then the player can reach it earlier. But anticipation can also become a lazy habit: A player tries to anticipate the opponent’s shot, even when the opponent can quite likely play a different shot. In this case, the player's anticipation is wilful: it’s motivated by laziness and is tactically unsound. Overcoming laziness takes a great deal of highly disciplined training. And even the best players, who have had this training, still sometimes get a little lazy.

The dogma of elegant variation: frustrating your opponent Many opponents believe that the player should always vary the shot placement. In extreme cases, players insist on never playing the same shot twice in a row. This is called the dogma of elegant variation. Variation is not inherently good! The player should only vary the shots with a clear tactical purpose. In particular, many opponents have a firm conviction that the player should always hit to a different corner in singles. They don’t have any good reason for believing this, but they believe it nonetheless. If the opponent is one of these players, then the player can exploit this foolish belief. Let’s say the player plays several clears to the opponent's forehand rear corner. The opponent will become frustrated because the opponent believes the player's tactic should not work: it violates the opponent's faith in elegant variation. This places a psychological burden on the opponent: the burden to prove the player is wrong. If the player can maneuver the opponent into this state of mind, then the player gains an advantage. The opponent is no longer able to just play badminton; now the opponent has something to prove. Now the opponent wants to refute the player's tactic. This is a dangerous state of mind because it leads to impaired judgment.


In this state of mind, the opponent’s most natural action is to bias his base farther towards his forehand rear corner. This is an emotional decision, based on the desire to punish the player's tactic. The opponent is hoping that the player will l play another clear to that corner, so the opponent can punish the player for such simplistic tactics. Of course, the player has no intention of doing that. The player observes the change in the opponent's base position; this is exactly what the player has been waiting for. Now the immediately places the shuttlecock in a different corner (It is recommended to use the long diagonals.) As well as winning a point, the opponent has landed a psychological blow: you’ve unsettled your opponent. The opponent doesn’t understand what happened. The opponent is troubled by the rally, because it violated his expectations.

The subconscious influence of patterns and rhythms


Even if the opponent is aware of the player's tactics, and understands the ideas behind it, it may still work.

Whether we like it or not, we are all influenced by the patterns that we observe.


Human brains are unmatched for their ability to extract patterns from complex perceptual input, and most of this pattern recognition occurs subconsciously (we’re not aware of it).


If the opponent is tactically aware, he may consciously think, "I know what he’s doing. He is trying to trick me by playing the shuttlecock into the same corner, and then he’ll switch to another corner."


Yet subconsciously, the opponent’s brain is still spotting patterns. A primitive part of his mind is shouting: Look at the pattern! Look at the pattern! Look at the pattern!


This subconscious message is reinforced by the repetition of rhythm. By hitting the same corner, the player is not only establishing a pattern but also reinforcing this pattern through a rhythm of foot movements and hitting actions.



Each time, the rhythm of the opponent's movement is the same: back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.


How often has anybody found themselves tapping their feet along to a song when they don’t even like the music? Their conscious mind says, "I will show my disdain for this awful music"; but their subconscious mind says, "Ooh! Rhythm! Let’s beat along to it!"


The same can be said of badminton. An opponent may be consciously aware that the player is attempting to trap him by repeating a rhythm. The opponent knows that, if he falls under the spell of that rhythm, the player will shatter the rhythm to his advantage (hitting a different corner).


But his opponent’s subconscious mind, which he cannot control, is following the rhythm. The Player's tactic, therefore, has created a conflict between the conscious and subconscious parts of the opponent’s mind. Often the subconscious will win, and the opponent will be influenced by the pattern and rhythm you’ve shown him.


Players can train to protect themselves from this tactic. With sufficient training, many movements become automatic. Effectively, the training imposes its own patterns and rhythms upon the subconscious mind: this protects tge player against being manipulated by the opponent.


No protection is perfect, however. Better-trained players are much less vulnerable to being manipulated in this way; but they will occasionally falter, especially when their psychological state is already compromised (for example, when they have played a few bad shots and are becoming annoyed with themselves).


If the player observes that your opponent’s psychological state is compromised, look for a tactic that could exploit this weakness. Hitting to the same corner is a good option.

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