Should Badminton ban the controversial new spin serve that’s creating a stir?

There’s a new serve in badmin-town, exaggeratedly called the unplayable spin-serve. The sport could do with a drizzle of ‘unplayable’. A debate has been raging these last few weeks on social media, and shuttlers are simultaneously trying to learn the new trick, and ruminating over whether it should be banned. Because in badminton, a serve is best served old.

But first about this spin serve, which in Malaysia and Indonesia, is also called ‘twist’ serve. Here’s how it unfurls – and doesn’t stop unfurling or spinning till it loses its twirls. A shuttlecock is held between the thumb and middle finger nail by the left hand (for a right hander), and the nail flicks it into motion for a centimeter or two before the racquet pushes the wildly twisting shuttle forward. It is known to go twisting in the air and tumble across the net and fall short to make the receiver look silly stabbing at it – feather first.

It’s something like a carrom striker motion applied to a shuttle to force the receiver to wait on it as it goes rotating and renders it unplayable at times if the spin is too much. Danish doubles player, Marcus Rindshoj, who plays with Emil Hybel is said to have peppered his opponents with this wild spin serve, and earned a bunch of points before losing the match at Polish Open. Many others are following suit.

As it stands, it’s a legal serve, considering the feathers are not struck first, but its supposed unplayability could invite a ban if rallies don’t take off, is the conjecture. Remember, unlike in tennis, a serve in badminton is meant to be a defensive game-starter, and aces though they happen fairly often cannot become de facto if a rally has to move forward.

Spin serves have been in circulation (or rotation) for a long time, and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo has been known to add revs to his serve, to befuddle opponents. He slices under the shuttlecock, which makes it difficult to strike the feathers for the one receiving. But ‘unplayable’ is a bit of hyperbole, amplified on social media as is its wont.

The newest variation to the serve, adds to the skillset, opens up a surprise element and increases options to make a rally interesting, like an early blitz. It has perhaps the same effect as the flick serve to the back – the thrill is in the unpredictability and mixing of various serving actions.

It is conjectured that the BWF only needs to bold/underline the rule that states that a shuttle may only be held by the feathers to stub an end to this new spin-serve business. But whether it grants an unfair advantage remains at the heart of the debate.

The last service action famously banned by authorities was the S-serve of the Sidek brothers, which closed out the option of striking the feathers first. That was done when English and Danish shuttlers opposed Malaysian and Indonesian proponents in what might’ve seemed unfair on the skilled Sideks who used to win quite a bunch. That a Dane has pulled this one out of the hat, might offer it some immediate indulgence, and keep away the b-word.

On its own, it is a hugely impressive skill, needing repetitive practice to get it right always. A receiver may try to go over it, or wait for it to drop to gravity and lose its spin and pick it late, inches off the ground for a lift. It remains to be seen just how uncomfortable it can get, or if the receivers are merely disconcerted due to the novelty, and might well devise ways to respond and put an end to the fuss.

Its greatest use right now is in mixing it with the regular and flick serve to keep opponents guessing. The question is how shuttlers respond once they have a read on it, for the trajectory is fairly predictable, if only at various degrees unplayable. The new spin serve will tipple over the net and fall short of the receiver’s natural receiving stance. That is a given. And it’s expected that counters will be found to the spin serve, even if they look like an almighty scramble at the start. Expect the Koreans to jump on it and add it to their already formidable doubles arsenal.

When the cork is flicked with the nail anticlockwise, with little to no backswing, the shuttle drops just a tad before the racquet strikes it, and there can be genuine posers on whether that constitutes a double-action. However, it makes for interesting viewing. A compulsive spin server against a poor receiver might not remain very interesting though. But it is alleged to not be as easy to pull off all the time, as shuttlers would want.

Serve faults at the moment come from the higher service above the net, which causes plenty of consternation when called out, especially to tall players. Should another serving option be banned, it will cramp innovating players and restrict them, especially when it’s unproven that flow of the game is always interrupted due to the spin serve. The twist serve is an exciting new development, which adds to more options when serving, and BWF will do well to let it flower or fizzle out naturally, as the case may be.


  • Adam Gray

    Adam Gray is an experienced journalist with a passion for breaking news and delivering it to the masses. With over a decade of experience in the field, he has covered everything from local stories to national events, earning a reputation for his accuracy, reliability, and attention to detail. As a reporter, Adam is always on the lookout for the next big story, and his dedication to uncovering the truth has earned him the respect of his peers and readers alike. When he's not chasing down leads, Adam can be found poring over the latest headlines, always on the lookout for the next big scoop. Contact [email protected]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *