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Badminton shots and badminton strokes are the same thing. These include the serve, net shot, smash, lob, drive and clear. All can be returned with the forehand or a backhand except for one–the high serve.
Play is always started with the serve. The most popular serve is the high serve, which sends the shuttlecock far into the backcourt, and which when done properly, causes it to fall in a straight diagonal line. A low serve allows for less distance and falls faster. The goal is always to limit the options of the opposing player in returning the shot. Unlike in tennis it is rare to hit an ace in badminton.
A net shot is meant to stay close to the net causing the other player to return the shuttlecock from close to the net. The closer it is to the net, the more the options are limited. Sometimes net shots are gentle little drops just over the net but sometimes they are hard hitting shots that were set up by a number of return drives.
Most badminton shots that are made in every rally are drives. Drives are hard hit lower shots that clear the net but move the opposing player around the floor. Rallies are made up of drives and usually end in a specialty shot that is impossible to return.
Smashes are the most exciting of all the shots in badminton. They are incredibly hard hit shots from overhead that hit the floor with such speed and force that they cannot be returned. In advanced competition smashes have been measured in excess of 200 mph.
Lobs in badminton are much the same as lobs in tennis. With the stroke the shuttlecock is sent over the net with a high arc, so high that the opponent must move to the backcourt to return it. Most times this a set-up for a smash in the front court.
A clear is really a kind of lob but it is used for defensive purposes instead of as an offensive tool. It is meant to buy some time to allow you to reposition yourself back at the center of the court before the return can be made.
There are many more advanced variations on these basic badminton shots but none should be undertaken until each of these has been perfected. Basic shot mechanics combined with agility and foot speed are all necessary components in badminton play.