The Bizarre Truth: Why Badminton Players Raise Their Hands

Badminton players and umpires use a host of hand gestures during a game. However, some gestures also arise naturally due to body movements, making it confusing for onlookers to decipher their meanings. If you are confused and intrigued to learn why badminton players raise their hands, this is the perfect post for you.

Badminton players raise their non-playing hands to make cleaner contact with the shuttle while providing a counterbalance for their movement. Raising the non-playing hand also assists in bringing back the playing-side shoulder and generating more power for the shots.

In the rest of the article, I’ll explain how raising your hands helps make cleaner contact with the shuttle and improves the overall gameplay and physical balance.

The Beginner Badminton Racquet I Recommend

The YONEX Nanoray Light 18i Graphite Badminton Racquet is a great pick for an absolute beginner because it comes tuned with just the right amount of string tension.

Very inexpensive!

Editor’s Note: I love the above racquet because it’s known to have long-lasting strings. Click the link for more on why badminton strings break and how often.

How Raising Your Hand Improves Your Gameplay in Badminton

Some players claim that their non-playing hands naturally go upwards as they hit a shot, while many others learn it as an essential technique. Raising your non-playing hands can improve your gameplay in various ways, whether it’s a natural movement or a learned trick. These are: 

It Helps Measure the Height and Position of the Shuttle More Accurately

As the shuttlecock flies toward you, raising your non-playing hand can give a sense of the height it is flying. By gauging the position of the shuttlecock, you would know how far up you have to raise your racket to hit a perfect overhead shot.

With the palm typically pointing toward the shuttlecock, the player can also guess the distance and find the right spot to hit it.

Related: Badminton players do other crazy things on the court too. Find what it means when a player shouts the word “so” and other common verbal releases.

It Helps Maintain a Counter-Balance for Movements

As you pull your racket hand backward, especially for an overhead shot, the body weight shifts back. Therefore, your non-racket hand should be raised and pointed forward at this stage to counterbalance.

When you play the shot, the weight moves forward. So, to maintain balance, the raised non-racket hand should lean backward or rotate similarly to your playing hand. This will help you avoid falling over to the ground with your face down.


It Helps Reduce Pains and Strains in Your Playing Hand

If you only lift your playing arm and leave the non-playing hand in its natural position, you risk straining your racket hand. This is down to a lack of fluidity in movements whereby only one part of your body moves. The shift in weight caused by this one-sided movement would bring imbalance and might cause injuries to your dominant hand. This video shows how to use your arms to improve your game.

You should always raise your hands while playing overhead shots to avoid injuries. Even if you are hitting a low shot, your non-dominant hand should be slightly raised to ensure movement fluidity.

It Helps Generate More Power and Hit Deadly Smashes 

When playing a smash stroke or a jump smash, raising your non-racket hand can help generate more power for your shot. Once again, it comes down to balancing your body weight and movements, whereby the raised non-racket hand enables your upper torso to rotate faster.

If you can align the swing of your arms, you can deliver a deadly smash that is nearly impossible to return.

How To Raise Your Hands in Badminton To Play Different Strokes?

Maintaining a good body balance can improve your overall game in badminton. It not only ensures that you have perfect footwork but also enables you to produce game-changing strokes.

However, not all strokes require the same movement of your non-playing hand. Instead, you must practice a few hand movements to play the perfect shot. I discuss the non-racket hand movements for some basic badminton strokes below.

Overhead Strokes

As mentioned, raising your hand is most prevalent in overhead strokes like overhand clears, smash, jump smash, etc.


In smashes, you should keep your non-playing hand raised throughout the shot before bringing it down to your side right after hitting the shuttle. The video below demonstrates all the correct and incorrect movements for your non-racket arm.

Jump Smashes

As jump smashes require more outstanding body balance, your non-playing hand should move differently at different shot stages.

Like smashes, you should keep your non-playing hand raised upwards at the beginning, with the hand elbow tucked closer to your body frame. Then, when you jump and start swinging your racket hand to play the shot, your non-racket hand should be completely stretched out of the body, keeping it somewhat parallel to the court floor.

This will provide a counterbalance for your playing arm while fastening your hand’s upper torso rotation.

Once you’re done playing the stroke, bring your non-playing arm back to its natural position the same way you do it in a smash.

Pro Tip: You should not swing your non-racket arm forward as this can effectively cause you to smash the floor face forward instead of the shuttlecock. It will also decrease the weight behind your dominant hand, making your hits less potent than they could be.

Lift Strokes

As lift strokes require you to bend forward slightly, they shift the body weight from the back to the front. However, you can still maintain balance with nifty footwork and specific hand movements.

Forehand Lift

As you run toward an underarm shuttle, your non-racket arm should be straight and closer to your body. When you lean toward the birdie, your non-playing hand should be stretched on the other side, parallel to the ground. This will keep your leaning weight in check, offering the perfect balance for your stroke.

Backhand Lift

To play a backhand lift, you must make room on your non-racket hand’s side. You can do so by stretching out your backhand opposite your forehand. For example, if you move forward to lift the bird, your backhand should be stretched out toward the back. This is also applicable to other underarm shots that require lunging ahead.

Why Do Badminton Players Raise Their Hands – My Final Words

Many badminton strokes require players to raise their hands or stretch the non-racket arm for balance and better movements. For example, raising the backhand is essential for overhead strokes, while underarm shots mostly require the non-playing arm to stretch out to the back or toward the opposite direction.

You can improve your strokes and generate more power by learning to control your non-playing hand’s movement. It will also facilitate better footwork and help avoid hand injuries or accidental falls.



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