Lin Dan, one of the, if not the greatest badminton player of all time. Although he may have been falling out recently and not winning as much, his past achievements have surpassed every singles badminton player in history. The two-time Olympic champion and 5-time world champion definitely has some tricks and tips up his sleeve.
Let’s take a closer look at what makes Lin Dan a world beater in badminton.
As of October 28, 2018,
Date of Birth: October 14, 1983
Racket Model: Yonex Voltric LD Force
World Ranking: 12
Highest Ranking: 1
Career Titles: 65
Dominant Hand: Left
Type of Player: Mens Singles
Strengths and Weaknesses
Lin Dan’s most significant advantage is his attack. When you couple racket and shuttle mastery with strategy, you get an unstoppable player. Let me explain a little more.
Lin Dan is one of the best players at playing around the net. His deceptions and variability make it very difficult for other players to play against him. He approaches the shuttle in a particular direction and then changes it last second which makes Lin Dan unpredictable. For example, one of Lin Dan’s most used deception is to approach the shuttle like you’re going to play a cross court net shot and then suddenly change direction and push to play a flat shot to the back. If the opponent manages to get the shot back, Lin Dan waits at the front and finishes it with a net kill. This leads to one of his other strengths.
Lin Dan’s anticipation is arguably his most significant advantage over other players. Having played badminton since he was five, Lin Dan has amassed a considerable chunk of experience that he can use to win. This experience tells him the shots that his opponent can play in certain positions and understanding how to put them in that situation. An example is that players will usually block close to the net after a deadly smash which Lin Dan takes advantage of with his fast follow up net kill or push shot. This experience also tells him when he should smash and end the rally. The anticipation and expertise allow him to crumble his opponent patiently. I’ll get into some specifics of the strategies he has in the playstyle section.
Some other factors that contribute to Lin Dan’s and all other successful badminton players are his footwork speed and stability as well as the ability to play many badminton shots. One of the things that’s special with Lin Dan is that he is able to smash well even when he is late to the shuttle. This makes playing against him even more unpredictable. When you’re expecting a drop or clear, he comes down with a deadly line smash.
With so many strengths, it’s hard to think that Lin Dan has many weaknesses. But the cliche is true. Every badminton player has a flaw no matter how good. It’s just some players have fewer weaknesses than others.
Lin Dan’s weakness is his defense when done right. If you straight up smash and drive to him, he will block everything, even if you are at the front of the net hitting it down. You have to force Lin Dan into unexpected positions and try to move him around the court as much as you can. Lin Dan cannot defend against his own attack. So if you were to attack like Lin Dan with big net deceptions and such, you could take him down.
One of the things you’ll also have to get used to is playing against left-handers. Nowadays left-handers are becoming more common in badminton and other racket sports because they’re told that it gives them the advantage. And it’s true! Since the majority are right-hand dominant, basic strategies have to be adapted. For example, you’ll have to lift towards the left more because that’s where the left-handers’ backhand is positioned. Lin Dan takes significant advantage of the fact that he is left-handed.
Something you can do to counter play against left-hand dominant players is to try to force them to attack onto your backhand side. Generally, your backhand is better for defense against smashes and drives while your forehand is better at attacking shots. When playing against left-handers, your forehands and backhands are matching. Meaning that if you hit it straight with your backhand, they’ll hit it back with their backhand too and vice versa.
If you have good deceptive play on your backhand side, you can do really well against Lin Dan and left-handers in general. Left-handers want you to lift crosscourt with your backhand so they can unleash a hard straight smash so try to play flatter straight lifts and net shots when they have you play backhand shots.
After reading about Lin Dan’s strengths, you’ve most likely inferred that Lin Dan is an aggressive player with a very strategic attack. Let’s talk about the strategy that you’ve all been waiting for.
In the weakness section, I talked a lot about how left-hand players have the advantage in badminton and also mentioned that Lin Dan takes full advantage of this. Although Lin Dan is an extremely aggressive player with an excellent attack, he is actually extremely patient. He waits for his opponent to get frustrated and play rash shots. He does this by playing lots of clears and drops to the opponent’s forehand side until he’s played enough to see that the opponent’s movement has been restricted or until the opponent makes a mistake where Lin Dan can capitalize on.
This is a tactic that is for very advanced players. Basically, you hit to the same general area until the opponent gets used to it and then suddenly change the direction and speed. Since the opponent has gotten used to the pace and where the shuttle is going, the sudden change will throw them off, and they’ll have no way of getting to the shuttle. You can learn more about these kinds of tactics here.
Although I mentioned that your backhand is generally better for defense, it’s not entirely true. Backhand just has more control than forehand, to actually block a smash moving from the forehand side to backhand side is more difficult than blocking a smash from backhand to forehand. This is because the footwork to get to your backhand side is very awkward and usually contains lots of turning movements and movement using the non-dominant leg. When you combine it with restricted mobility, there’s no way you can block a smash to your backhand.
This is Lin Dan’s ultra-successful strategy. Hit to the forehand enough until the opponent’s movement becomes restricted in which Lin Dan can pull a big attack onto the backhand. This strategy requires lots of experience to pull off because you don’t really know when the opponent’s movements are restricted. It takes lots of playing to get good at.
With 65 titles, Lin Dan actually has fewer career titles than Lee Chong Wei, but he does have way more golds as well as bigger competitions like Thomas and Uber Cup, All England Opens, World Championships, and Olympics. Here’s a list of some of his gold medals.
- 2004 All England Open
- 2005 World Cup
- 2006 All England Open
- 2006 World Championships
- 2007 All England Open
- 2007 World Championships
- 2008 Olympic Games
- 2009 All England Open
- 2009 World Championships
- 2011 World Championships
- 2012 All England Open
- 2012 Olympic Games
- 2013 World Championships
- 2016 All England Open
These are only some of Lin Dan’s achievements. For the full list, check it out here. One of the great things of the past was Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan’s rivalry. From 2008 to 2017, they met in many finals and semi-finals with Lin Dan winning many of the big titles while Lee Chong Wei conquering Lin Dan in smaller tournaments. The matches were intense and some of the best badminton we could ever see for a long time. Definitely check out my analysis on Lee Chong Wei as well.
Conclusion – Go Out and Play!
Now, where do you go after reading this? Go check out some of my other articles on badminton skills and drills or play some badminton! We may not have been playing badminton since we were five but we sure can get good at badminton and play at higher level tournaments if we work smart and hard.
Of course, you don’t have to be training at the highest level to play badminton. It’s also a recreational sport as well so go have some fun!
If you have any questions or comments, please don’t be shy and leave them in the comment section below! As always have a great day and go have some fun!