Translation of an article written by Gu Xiamin, 1998 All England Champion and Bronze medalist at the 1987 World Championships. Printed in Badminton Magazine, Japan.
DAMAGE 1 � MAKE THE OPPONENT RUN
Using a strange phrase, not only badminton but sports in general are an unkind game. Testing courses (of the shuttle) so the opponent must make a big effort, using their expectations to deceive and then steal a point, taking the intiative and grasping hold of the game. In short, realizing what makes the opponent think � If this happens I`m in trouble � and use this cleverly to be ruthless in your play. A simple example is in doubles where we often say to aim for the middle of your opponents. This is because both players can reach the shuttle on this course which causes some uncertainty for them and then your team can expect the reply to be late. In singles an example would be to at first only serve long and then from time to time weave in some deceptive short serves. Above all though, from the same form being able to hit a variety of different shots is, at a basic level, a very shrewd idea. Being ruthless is difficult for many people to follow so let`s try to improve this � how can we cause damage to our opponents? The fastest way is to look at your self. If it was you what position/situation would make you feel under pressure? For example from the back of the court in an unbalanced position you return the shuttle, only to see it returned, dropping close to the net, knowing even if you make a huge effort you won`t make it to the shuttle in time. Another example is being made to run a long distance by your opponent. This is the first step towards being ruthless. �Diagonal is the key� � this is a well known basic concept. If the opponent plays a cross court clear from their back forehand corner, play a straight cut to your front forehand corner. As in diagram 1, from the round-the-head position a cross court clear(1) is played, and then the opponent plays a straight return(2) which you then play a cross court cut(3) from. From cross court then straight, from straight then cross court. In short if you look at the 6.7m x 5.18m (singles) court from above, the idea is to have the shuttle coming and going along the longest diagonal line of the rectangle. If you keep playing shuttles along the diagonal the opponent will have to move the furthest distance. Consequentially the opponents movement will take more time. If you can make the opponent have to scramble to the back forehand corner and then run to the front backhand corner you will use up a little of their stamina. Little by little you cause damage. It`s due to this that we say the diagonal is the basis of badminton.
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DAMAGE 2 � DON`T ALLOW THE OPPONENT TO GO WHERE THEY WANT TO.
Making the opponent run diagonally is �ruthlessness� at its basic level, however as the level of play gets better this is not the only thing. Connected with the �diagonal� concept is the role of the catcher in baseball. If a high inside ball is thrown the next ball will likely be a low outside pitch. The eye has an after image of the inside ball and to then have a pitch on a course further away confuses the batter. However if the batter recognizes this tactic and knows that after a high inside ball the next pitch will be low and outside they can probably swing and connect with that pitch. In this case the pitchers intent to fool the batter backfires, as he is waiting and ready for this pitch. Badminton is the same. If you continually play the �diagonal� tactic it becomes too easy for your opponent to read the course of the shuttle. For example in diagram 2, B plays a cross court clear from the round-the-head position to A. In this case if you follow the �diagonal� theory A should play a straight cut/smash to B`s forehand front corner. This is because the distance B will have to travel is the greatest, right? However to reach this straight reply may take the...