A beginner (as the game is very fast and, when well played, graceful in the extreme) should endeavour to acquire from the first an easy and free style, no matter how many aces are lost in the process, rather than try to win aces in an incorrect style. Once she has learnt to take and make "strokes in the right way she is bound to improve. Remember always to keep slightly moving, with the right foot a few inches in front of the left. By moving, it is not meant that the player should be hurrying from place to place in the court without rhyme or reason, but should, as it were, be feeling the floor, as a fencer does. The body must be slightly inclined forwards, with muscles and joints supple, and eye steadily fixed on the shuttle. Rapid movement in any direction is then easy, and that fatal moment's delay in starting caused through standing with both feet firmly planted side by side is obviated.
A tyro at the game ought to learn very early how to clear overhead from one base line to another, as this is a most important "safety" shot. To do it properly, the whole arm should be raised until the elbow is slightly higher and practically at right angles to the shoulder, the forearm, wrist, and racquet sloping backwards so that the head of the racquet is pointing down the back. When the shuttle is immediately above the head it should be hit as hard as possible, the head of the racquet finishing a foot or so in front of the place where the shuttle was at the time of impact, and facing straight in front of the player.
An attempt to return a "drop" shot. Swiftness and decisiveness of movement are essential in Badminton
Slowness of movement is a great failing with beginners. A good remedy for this is to take as many strokes as possible overhead, and to take long, springing strides, which are less tiring and very much quicker than short, running steps.
Another common fault is the tendency beginners have to run round their backhand
Recreations strokes and take them forehand, which is absolutely fatal. If their backhand strokes are weak, players will find their difficulties greatly simplified if they slip their thumbs up the back of the handle of their racquet. It is extraordinary how few of even the really good players are able to do the backhand wrist smash close to the net. Yet it is perfectly simple if the thumb is placed in the same position as for the last stroke. All that is then necessary is a half forearm wrist and thumb movement from left to right, the thumb and wrist being levered over with a jerk, so that a flicking movement is given to the head of the racquet.
A player who is leaving the nursery stage and starts playing with good players will find that the service is the most difficult part of Badminton, especially when there is an aggressive opponent on the other side of the net waiting to either smash or rush a service.
Perhaps the best, and certainly the most difficult to learn, is the long, low, straight service, the shuttle being aimed at the extreme inside corner of the centre line, and within, of course, the back-service line. This is suitable to either court, but, like all services, should be varied by a high or short service to make it really effective.
A high service ought, if not returned, to drop about two inches inside the back-service line, and is best directed to the outside corners of the court.
A short service should just skim the net without touching, and drop on or just over the crease line. But the secret of good serving lies in the retaining of the same action for all services, the alteration being made at the last moment by the wrist.
Ladies' singles, although excellent practice, are not so popular with women at tournaments as are ladies' or mixed doubles, possibly because of the tremendous physical strain and exertion singles entail.
Patience is a good single player's great asset. This fact is borne out by that famous Devonian Miss M. Lucas, who holds, and has held, on six occasions, the All-england Ladies' Singles Challenge Cup. She is patience personified, and goes on clearing and placing until she has made a certain opening for herself, and then brings off a brilliant winning stroke. Many players are the cause of their own downfall by trying to hurry a rally by too much smashing, or by trying impossible fancy shots.
Ladies' doubles are always popular, and attract a large entry at tournaments. The ideal combination for this event is the "pivot" game, a mixture of the "side-by-side" and "back-and-front" game, the players working all the time in a circle. That is to say, if the girl in the right court be near the net, the left-hand player is then about half-way back in her court, and is ready to take a high shot, should one come over her partner's head - the partner crossing over from the right to the left court near the net, and working back as the rally continues. A good many players adopt this form of the game. Miss Cundall and Miss Gowanlock have played it consistently for several years with very good results. Miss M. Lucas and the writer also prefer this combination.
The only couple to play absolute "sides" successfully were Miss Thomson (now Mrs. Larcombe) and Miss M. Lucas.
The Back-and-front Game
The back-and-front game can never be really suitable for ladies' doubles, on account of the strain on the back player. No woman, unless she be exceptionally strong physically, should attempt to play back, no matter how good a player she may be, especially now that so many players have learnt the value of the straight half-court shot down the side lines. These shots are too far back for the net player to reach, and too far forward for the back to negotiate.
A forehand "overhead" stroke. When the shuttle is immediately above the head, the arm should swing forward and hit it as hard as possible
The back-and-front game a season or so ago became extremely popular with men for mixed doubles play, possibly because by taking the back of the court they get most of the game.
For the last two seasons the pivot game, amongst first-class players, is coming back into favour, as really good all-round players, like Miss Lucas, Miss Larmenie, and Miss Murray are quite wasted by playing the waiting game at the net.
To sum up briefly the secrets of success, I would unhesitating!}recommend the would-be champion to hit hard, but not recklessly, always to keep on the move, remembering that to attack is the best defence, to enter as many tournaments as possible, and not to lose her temper or be discouraged.