Saturday, April 16, 2016

Badminton Trick shots: when you get too much time on the court

Have you noticed that professional badminton players are throwing around a lot of trick shots lately? What used to the realm of Lin Dan and flamboyant doubles players is now becoming more and more commonplace.

When one reaches, or even surpasses their limits against their opponents, they reach a state of comfort in their game play, so much so that they're able to move and hit at their most efficient. This opens up the opportunity for the brain to channel more thoughts beyond where to hit the shuttle next.

This state of mind is, in my opinion, the best time to perform trick shots - highly technical shots made with the purpose of misleading and delaying the opponent's reaction to the shuttle.

When you're facing a tough opponent, it's almost impossible to throw off a good trick shot. The stress of the moment, coupled with the brain dominating in fast decision making processes, make it very hard for the calculated and smooth execution of a trick shot.

Turning the situation around, if you're up against an opponent you're more comfortable with, even if they are of a higher level, your mind starts to wonder what else you can do. The state of mind is then more conducive for a higher level technique. 

The above briefly states the nature of playing trick shots. Given the level of play some readers are used to, and for those aspiring to grow in technique, I will now attempt to explain some of the simpler trick shots I have managed to use with better success. 

Direction Change
This is pretty basic, and involves turning of the racket head away to sent the shuttle in the other direction. The approach should be early and obvious - "I am going to hit the shuttle in this direction." When at the next moment, having given the opponent enough time to process the information, change the destination of the shuttle.

This move is pretty easy to pull off. All you need is to be able to out your racket head forward in one direction and then change the hit to the other desired one. The other two shots are variations of the direction change, and will require a little more practice.

The shot is made with less power than intended, although a large swing gives the impression of a harder hit. The best time to use this move is when you're being pushed to execute an underarm clear. The opponent will most likely expect a high and defensive clear for you to buy time. 

This move is a test of control of the shuttle. The swing forward should be made at force and speed, and then taken away the moment before the racket head makes contact to perform a dipping net shot. Care has to be taken to place the shuttle as near to the net as possible, to have the cork on a downward trajectory so as to increase the distance between the shuttle and the opponent. 

A variation of this technique is the backspin. Instead of releasing power from the shot, the momentum of the swing is transferred to the shuttle in the form of a slice to the bottom of the cork, like a backspin in a game of tennis. This produces a low-arching shot that can cut very close to teh net and dips quickly. Because of the low arch, the shuttle will most likely travel further than an outright pull-back. 

Double Draw
So you've learnt how to change directions, and you've learnt to control the amount of force you put to the racket. It's now time to take things up a notch and perform what I call a double draw, or double motion. This involves moving the racket to take the shot, and pulling back the racket head before the hit, and then changing the direction of the shuttle. 

This is a little more convincing than a regular direction change in that the player actually commits to a hit, increasing the level of deception and showmanship. The racket head will actually be traveling in the same direction as the shuttle after the draw, and that is one awesome thing to see executed well on the court. 

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Badminton Racket Review: Victor Bravesword 12N and Victor Bravesword 12

Hey guys, found out some other site's been taking my article wholesale, so be a sport and bookmark the original site -


First impressions of the 12N here.
First impressions of the 12N versus the 12 here.

In countries like Singapore where space is a constraint, you will find more people playing the game of doubles instead of battling it out one-on-one on the courts. This to me has caused the increasing prominence of pro-doubles rackets in the victor series to rise in popularity.

Among the slew of offerings that doubles players can turn to for a smashing good time, the Victor Bravesword 12 has a firm footing among the most sought after. Given its popularity, the racket maker deemed more fit to release an N version of the racket rather than a new racket altogether.

Banking on the popularity of a staple is one thing, but can the revised racket give doubles players what they're looking for? Is the original a better choice?

I've tested the Bravesword 12N on doubles and singles games, and the Bravesword 12 on doubles games to get some insight. This review will be written quite differently from the others I've done, in that I'm reviewing two rackets at a go in aspects of doubles and singles badminton play.

Here goes.

Note: This is a review of my experience after using the racket for a few sessions. I am by no means a professional player, and so you should take my judgment with a pinch of salt. I welcome comments of any sorts.

Victor Bravesword 12
Est. Dry Weight: 85g (3U)
Grip Size: G5
Balance: Even-Balanced
Stiffness: Flexible
Strings: Yonex Nanogy 98 @ 27lbs

Victor Bravesword 12N
Est. Dry Weight: 87g (3U)
Grip Size: G5
Balance: Even-Balanced
Stiffness: Stiff
Strings: Yonex BG80 @ 28lbs

I've always been a pro-defensive player (don't ask me why my defense is so crappy though), and to me the basis of a good doubles racket starts from its defensive capability. Given the generally fast pace of a doubles rally, the speed and flexibility of a racket to excel in various defensive situations stands above all else.

In this respect the Bravesword 12 performs better than the 12N, mostly due to the lighter weight. With slightly head heavier orientation of the 12, along with the flexible shaft, adds to the power that one can deliver with a good lift off a smash.

With flat fast exchanges, the 12 also performs visibly better, it's lighter weight really adding to the amount of reaction time you can get. The racket is also a monster in the front court, intercepting and finishing off from the poorly placed defensive shot of the opponent.

Away from the game of doubles however, the 12N provides enough defensive advantage to be a good racket for singles play, allowing a higher enough level of control and power over the 12.

In conclusion, I prefer the Bravesword 12 in defense for doubles. Both are equal in the game of singles.

Offensive capabilities are probably the most affected by the racket; defense and control are somewhat more player-dependent than equipment-granted.

The lighter weight of the Bravesword 12 loses out here, not allowing enough power for one's game of singles. The more flexible shaft of the 12 allows for a greater potential in the game of doubles, where swings tend to be bigger and more time is given for the big smash.

The stiffer Bravesword 12N gives the single player a greater advantage, allowing for quicker and heavier smashes without the need for a big swing.

In terms of flat and fast drives, the 12N also wins out because you really don't need a lot of back draw to generate an equal amount of strength the Bravesword can deliver.

In conclusion, I prefer the Bravesword 12 in offense for doubles, and the Bravesword 12N for singles.

The most critical aspect of a player's game is control. There's no point attacking if you can't aim, there's no point defending if you're not able to turn it around to generate a reversal.

This unfortunately, is largely in the hands of the player. The racket can only add that little in terms in control, but there are aspects in the racket that allows the player to place the shuttle where they want to with a certain amount of ease.

In the respect, I felt the Bravesword 12N triumphs over the original. The stiffer shaft and heavier weight allowing for better placement of the shuttle with less effort in the game of singles.

At the front court however, the lighter weight of the Bravesword allowed me to perform a larger variety of tight net shots.

In conclusion: I preferred the Bravesword 12N in the areas of control.

The original's blue is striking and offers more character when compared to the 12N's dark grey color scheme. Between the two, I'm placing any preference. I am much more a red / yellow guy.

Bravesword 12
"Doubles' choice."
Defense: 9
Attack: 8
Control: 8
Looks: 6

Bravesword 12N
"Singles powerhouse."
Defense: 8
Attack: 9
Control: 10
Looks: 6

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Consider this my out-of-office...

Well sports fans, I've got a small announcement to make.

Some of you might know that I've been pretty probe to back injuries as a result of a slipped disc.. The latest in my string of ill-fated back problems comes in the form of a sciatica diagnosis, which I find strange because I didn't even fall or perform anything drastic to agitate it.

That's when the disc bulge causes a pinch in the nerves that can, in my case, result in a sharp pain radiating down the thigh.

Recovery for this case will take some time. I'm not being optimistic about this though, and even if I were to recover I don't think I'll be able to play at any level I'm used to...

So I guess this will be my early retirement notice. I probably won't be able to review any new rackets, but I will still do my best to answer the questions that stream in based on previous experience.

It's been a good run, and while I will take my time to heal up, I am definitely looking forward to playing this wonderful game again one day. I've met a few friends here, and also received a lot of compliments from shuttlers all over the world.

Please keep enjoying the game, and I do hope to be able to join you guys once more.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Badminton Racket First Impressions: Victor Bravesword 12 versus Victor Bravesword 12N

So I got my hands on the blue Victor Bravesword 12, more commonly known as "the racket Lee Yong Dae uses."

Having enjoyed the experience of using the Bravesword 12N in singles play, I was eager to compare the performances of both rackets in doubles games. So I did.

I guess the main different is in the shaft stiffness. The 12N plays a lot harder than the 12, and this gives you a very solid thump when you're in a singles game. In doubles, when you get the change for the long hard swing, the Bravesword 12 actually comes across a little harder.

The BRS12 also comes across slightly better in defense, since it's of a lighter weight. The softer shaft doesn't allow it to lift as well as the stiffer 12N, but the speed more than makes up for it.

If you're someone who likes to drive the shuttle straight across the net, you'll like the 12N more than the 12. The stiff shaft is really good for short whips of the wrist to generate immense amounts of power.

Net play seems to favor the 12 more than the 12N for me. I was able to get a lot more confidence with the blue racket with its lighter weight.

All in all, I would choose the Victor Bravesword 12 for doubles play. The increased attack power and defense speed brought about by the softer shaft and lighter weight is ideal for the nature of badminton doubles.

The Bravesword 12N is more suited for me as a singles racket. The head heaviness of it gives more shot variety when it comes to singles, and allows you to conserve more energy with each swing.

For the review, I will choose the BRS12. One main reason is because I don't own the 12N (haha).

Stay tuned!

Friday, January 08, 2016

Badminton Racket First Impressions: Victor Bravesword 12N

Now, we all know how I feel about Victor rackets. They have a certain way of impressing you at first try before leading you down a slippery slope of mishits and less-than-satisfactory gameplay.

I've been there with the Meteor 60. Meteor 70, Meteor 80. Meteor Jung Jae Sung. TK8000. TK8000 Iron Man 3. Bravesword Lee Yong Dae. Bravesword Lee Hyun Il. Spira 22. Spira 21. They have all failed to make a good impression.

The one exception is the Bravesword 10, who has ranked really high on my charts till now. It's trusty in defense, it's reliable in attack, it's absolute in control. It pleases me so much that I allowed it to be the testing bed for Yonex's new string - the Aerosonic (still working out a conclusion on that one I'm afraid).

And tonight, I had the chance to test run the fabled Victor Bravesword 12N in a singles match.

I had the racket for a little practice swing, and I must say it didn't impress me enough. The shaft was too soft and I could hardly get a feel of the strings (it was supplied with the Yonex BG80 Power).

The magic came with I had a go at it in an actual match. There was no need to hold back, the spirit of competition set in, and I let loose on the swings.

Man did the shuttle fly!

Perhaps now I can understand the fascination the forums had with the particular racket. The swings were wild, but you could sense a slight control to them - while the shuttle was quick to springboard off to the other side, you could also direct their fury to the sides of the court you like them to.

As I was doing most of the attacking during the match, I could not test the defensive capabilities of the Bravesword 12N very much.

Maybe if I had few gos at it in doubles matches I'd have enough for a review.

But for now, attacking in a singles match just got more feasible (and fun)!