Badminton is a racquet sport played by either two opposing players (singles)
or two opposing pairs (doubles), who take positions on opposite halves of a
rectangular court that is divided by a net. Players score points by striking a
shuttlecock with their rackets so that it passes over the net and lands in their
opponents' half of the court. A rally ends once the shuttlecock has struck the
ground, and the shuttlecock may only be struck once by each side before it
passes over the net.
The shuttlecock is a feathered projectile whose unique aerodynamic properties
cause it to fly differently from the balls used in most racket sports; in
particular, the feathers create much higher drag, causing the shuttlecock to
decelerate more rapidly than a ball. Because shuttlecock flight is strongly
affected by wind, competitive badminton is always played indoors. Badminton is
also played outdoors as a casual recreational activity, often as a garden or
Badminton is an Olympic sport with five competitive disciplines: men's and
women's singles, men's and women's doubles, and mixed doubles, in which each
pair is a man and a woman. At high levels of play, the sport demands excellent
fitness: players require aerobic stamina, strength, and speed. It is also a
technical sport, requiring good hand-eye coordination and the development of
sophisticated racket skills.
History and development
Badminton was known in ancient times; an early form of sport played in ancient
Greece and Egypt. Badminton came from a game called battledore and shuttlecock,
in which two players hit a feathered shuttlecock back and forth with tiny
rackets. The game was called "Poona" in India during the 18th Century, and
British Army Officers stationed there took the Indian version back to England in
the 1860's. The new sport was definitively launched in 1873 at the Badminton
House, Gloucestershire owned by the Duke of Beaufort. During that time, the game
was referred to as "The Game of Badminton," and, the game's official name became
Until 1887 the sport was played in England under the rules that prevailed in
India. The Bath Badminton Club standardized the rules and made the game
applicable to English ideas. The basic regulations were drawn up in 1887.
However, in 1893, the Badminton Association of England published the first set
of rules according to these regulations, similar to that of today, and
officially launched badminton in a house called "Dunbar" at 6 Waverley Grove,
Portsmouth, England on September 13 of that year. They also started the All
England Open Badminton Championships, the first badminton competition in the
world, in 1899.
The Badminton World Federation (BWF) was established in 1934 with Canada,
Denmark, England, France, the Netherlands, Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland, and
Wales as its founding members. India joined as an affiliate in 1936. The BWF now
governs international badminton and develops the sport globally.
Laws of the game
The following information is a simplified summary of the Laws, not a complete
reproduction. The definitive source of the Laws is the IBF Laws publication,
although the digital distribution of the Laws contains poor reproductions of the
Playing court dimensions
The court is rectangular and divided into halves by a net. Courts are almost
always marked for both singles and doubles play, although the laws permit a
court to be marked for singles only. The doubles court is wider than the singles
court, but the doubles service court is shorter than the singles service court.
The full width of the court is 6.1 metres (20 ft), and in singles this width is
reduced to 5.18 metres (17 ft). The full length of the court is 13.4 metres (44
ft). The service courts are marked by a centre line dividing the width of the
court, by a short service line at a distance of 1.98 metres (6.5 ft) from the
net, and by the outer side and back boundaries. In doubles, the service court is
also marked by a long service line, which is 0.78 metres (6 ft 7 inch) from the
The net is 1.55 metres (5 ft 1 inch) high at the edges and 1.524 metres (5 ft)
high in the centre. The net posts are placed over the doubles side lines, even
when singles is played.
Surprisingly, there is no mention in the Laws of a minimum height for the
ceiling above the court. Nonetheless, a badminton court will not be suitable if
the ceiling is likely to be hit on a high serve.
The Laws specify which equipment may be used. In particular, the Laws restrict
the design and size of rackets and shuttlecocks. The Laws also provide for
testing a shuttlecock for the correct speed:
To test a shuttlecock, use a full underhand stroke which makes contact with the
shuttlecock over the back boundary line. The shuttlecock shall be hit at an
upward angle and in a direction parallel to the side lines.
A shuttlecock of the correct speed will land not less than 530 mm and not more
than 990 mm short of the other back boundary line....
Scoring system and service
The scoring system changed in May 2006. For more information, see Scoring System
Development of Badminton.
Each game is played up to 21 points, with players scoring a point whenever they
win a rally (this differs from the old system, where players could only win a
point on their serve). A match is the best of three games.
At the start of the rally, the server and receiver stand in diagonally opposite
service courts (see court dimensions). The server hits the shuttlecock so that
it would land in the receiver's service court. This is similar to tennis, except
that a badminton serve must be hit from below the waist in underhand form
(upwards), the shuttlecock is not allowed to bounce, and in tennis the players
stand outside their service courts.
In singles, the server stands in his right service court when his score is even,
and in his left service court when his score is odd.
In doubles, if the serving side wins a rally, the same player continues to
serve, but he changes service courts so that he serves to each opponent in turn.
When the serving side loses a rally, the serve passes to their opponents (unlike
the old system, there is no "second serve"). If their new score is even, the
player in the right service court serves; if odd, the player in the left service
court serves. The players' service courts are determined by their positions at
the start of the previous rally, not by where they were standing at the end of
A consequence of this system is that, each time a side regain the service, the
server will be the player who did not serve last time.
If the score reaches 20-all, then the game continues until one side gains a two
point lead (such as 24-22), up to a maximum of 30 points (30-29 is a winning
At the start of a match a coin is tossed. The winners of the coin toss may
choose whether to serve or receive first, or they may choose which end of the
court they wish to occupy. Their opponents make the remaining choice. In less
formal settings, the coin toss is often replaced by hitting a shuttlecock into
the air: whichever side it points to serves first.
In subsequent games, the winners of the previous game serve first. For the first
rally of any doubles game, the serving pair may decide who serves and the
receiving pair may decide who receives. The players change ends at the start of
the second game; if the match reaches a third game, they change ends both at the
start of the game and when the leading pair's score reaches 11 points.
The server and receiver must remain within their service courts, without
touching the boundary lines, until the server strikes the shuttlecock. The other
two players may stand wherever they wish, so long as they do not unsight the
opposing server or receiver.
Players win a rally by striking the shuttlecock onto the floor within the
boundaries of their opponents' court. Players also win a rally if their
opponents commit a fault. The most common fault in badminton is when the players
fail to return the shuttlecock so that it passes over the net and lands inside
their opponents' court, but there are also other ways that players may be
faulted. The following information lists some of the more common faults.
Several faults pertain specifically to service. A serving player shall be
faulted if he strikes the shuttlecock from above his waist (defined as his
lowest rib), or if his racket is not pointing downwards at the moment of impact.
This particular law changed in 2006: previously, the server's racket had to be
pointing downwards to the extent that the racket head was below the hand holding
the racket; now, any angle below the horizontal is acceptable.
Neither the server nor the receiver may lift a foot until the shuttlecock has
been struck by the server. The server must also initially hit the base (cork) of
the shuttlecock, although he may afterwards also hit the feathers as part of the
same stroke. This law was introduced to ban an extremely effective service style
known as the S-serve or Sidek serve, which allowed the server to make the
shuttlecock spin chaotically in flight.
Each side may only strike the shuttlecock once before it passes back over the
net; but during a single stroke movement, a player may contact a shuttlecock
twice (this happens in some sliced shots). A player may not, however, hit the
shuttlecock once and then hit it with a new movement, nor may he carry and sling
the shuttlecock on his racket.
It is a fault if the shuttlecock hits the ceiling.
If a let is called, the rally is stopped and replayed with no change to the
score. Lets may occur due to some unexpected disturbance such as a shuttlecock
landing on court (having been hit there by players on an adjacent court).
If the receiver is not ready when the service is delivered, a let shall be
called; yet if the receiver makes any attempt to return the shuttlecock, he
shall be judged to have been ready.
There is no let if the shuttlecock hits the tape (even on service).
Badminton rackets are light, with top quality rackets weighing between about 70
and 100 grams (without strings).  They are composed of carbon fibre
composite (graphite reinforced plastic), which may be augmented by a variety of
materials. Carbon fibre has an excellent strength to weight ratio, is stiff, and
gives excellent kinetic energy transfer. Before the adoption of carbon fibre
composite, rackets were made of light metals such as aluminium. Earlier still,
rackets were made of wood. Cheap rackets are still often made of metal, but
wooden rackets are no longer manufactured for the ordinary market, due to their
excessive weight and cost.
There is a wide variety of racket designs, although the racket size and shape
are limited by the Laws. Different rackets have playing characteristics that
appeal to different players. The traditional oval head shape is still available,
but an isometric head shape is increasingly common in new rackets.
Badminton strings are thin, with high performing strings in the range of about
0.65 to 0.73 millimetres thickness. Thicker strings are more durable, but many
players prefer the feel of thinner strings. String tension is normally in the
range of 18 to 36 lbf (80 to 130 newtons). Recreational players generally string
at lower tensions than professionals, typically between 18 and 25 lbf.
Professionals string between about 25 and 36 lbf.
It is often argued that high string tensions improve control, whereas low string
tensions increase power. The arguments for this generally rely on crude
mechanical reasoning, such as claiming that a lower tension stringbed is more
bouncy and therefore provides more power. An alternative view suggests that the
optimum tension for power depends on the player: the faster and more
accurately he can swing his racket, the higher the tension for maximum power.
Neither view has been subjected to a rigorous mechanical analysis, nor is there
clear evidence in favour of one or the other. The most effective way for a
player to find a good string tension is to experiment. Playing at high string
tensions can cause injury, depending on the player's ability: few amateur
players can safely play above 30 lbf, and for most players even 25 lbf is too
The choice of grip allows a player to increase the thickness of his racket
handle and choose a comfortable surface to hold. A player may build up the
handle with one or several grips before applying the final layer.
Players may choose between a variety of grip materials. The most common choices
are PU synthetic grips or toweling grips. Grip choice is a matter of personal
preference. Players often find that sweat becomes a problem; in this case, a
drying agent may be applied to the grip or hands, or sweatbands may be used, or
the player may choose another grip material or change his grip more frequently.
There are two main types of grip: replacement grips and overgrips. Replacement
grips are thicker, and are often used to increase the size of the handle.
Overgrips are thinner (less than 1mm), and are often used as the final layer.
Many players, however, prefer to use replacement grips as the final layer.
Toweling grips are always replacement grips. Replacement grips have an adhesive
backing, whereas overgrips have only a small patch of adhesive at the start of
the tape and must be applied under tension; overgrips are more convenient for
players who change grips frequently, because they may be removed more rapidly
without damaging the underlying material.
Shuttlecocks with feathers
A shuttlecock with a plastic skirt
Main article: Shuttlecock
A shuttlecock (often abbreviated to shuttle) is a high-drag projectile, with an
open conical shape: the cone is formed from sixteen overlapping goose feathers
embedded into a rounded cork base. The cork is covered with thin leather.
Shuttles with a plastic skirt are often used by recreational players to reduce
their costs: feathered shuttles break easily.
Badminton shoes are lightweight with soles of rubber or similar high-grip,
Compared to running shoes, badminton shoes have little lateral support. High
levels of lateral support are useful for activities where lateral motion is
undesirable and unexpected. Badminton, however, requires powerful lateral
movements. A highly built-up lateral support will not be able to protect the
foot in badminton; instead, it will encourage catastrophic collapse at the point
where the shoe's support fails, and the player's ankles are not ready for the
sudden loading. For this reason, players should choose badminton shoes rather
than general trainers or running shoes. Players should also ensure that they
learn safe footwork, with the knee and foot in alignment on all lunges.
Francesca Setiadi, Canada, flies high at the Golden Gate Badminton Club (GGBC)
in Menlo Park, 2006Badminton offers a wide variety of basic strokes, and players
require a high level of skill to perform all of them effectively. All strokes
can be played either forehand or backhand (except for the high serve, which is
only ever played as a forehand). A player's forehand side is the same side as
his playing hand: for a right-handed player, the forehand side is his right side
and the backhand side is his left side. Forehand strokes are hit with the front
of the hand leading (like hitting with the palm), whereas backhand strokes are
hit with the back of the hand leading (like hitting with the knuckles). Players
frequently play certain strokes on the forehand side with a backhand hitting
action, and vice-versa.
In the forecourt and midcourt, most strokes can be played equally effectively on
either the forehand or backhand side; but in the rearcourt, players will attempt
to play as many strokes as possible on their forehands, often preferring to play
a round-the-head forehand overhead (a forehand "on the backhand side") rather
than attempt a backhand overhead. Playing a backhand overhead has two main
disadvantages. First, the player must turn his back to his opponents,
restricting his view of them and the court. Second, backhand overheads cannot be
hit with as much power as forehands: the hitting action is limited by the
shoulder joint, which permits a much greater range of movement for a forehand
overhead than for a backhand. The backhand clear is considered by most players
and coaches to be the most difficult basic stroke in the game, since precise
technique is needed in order to muster enough power for the shuttlecock to
travel the full length of the court. For the same reason, backhand smashes tend
to be weak.
The choice of stroke depends on how near the shuttlecock is to the net, and
whether it is above net height: players have much better attacking options if
they can reach the shuttlecock well above net height, especially if it is also
close to the net. In the forecourt, a high shuttlecock will be met with a net
kill, hitting it steeply downwards and attempting to win the rally immediately.
In the midcourt, a high shuttlecock will usually be met with a powerful smash,
also hitting downwards and hoping for an outright winner or a weak reply.
Athletic jump smashes, where players jump upwards for a steeper smash angle, are
a common and spectacular element of elite men's doubles play. In the rearcourt,
players strive to hit the shuttlecock while it is still above them, rather than
allowing it to drop lower. This overhead hitting allows them to play smashes,
clears (hitting the shuttlecock high and to the back of the opponents' court),
and dropshots (hitting the shuttlecock so that it falls softly downwards into
the opponents' forecourt). If the shuttlecock has dropped lower, then a smash is
impossible and a full-length, high clear is difficult.
When the shuttlecock is well below net height, players have no choice but to hit
upwards. Lifts, where the shuttlecock is hit upwards to the back of the
opponents' court, can be played from all parts of the court. If a player does
not lift, his only remaining option is to push the shuttlecock softly back to
the net: in the forecourt this is called a netshot; in the midcourt or
rearcourt, it is often called a push or block.
When the shuttlecock is near to net height, players can hit drives, which travel
flat and rapidly over the net into the opponents' rear midcourt and rearcourt.
Pushes may also be hit flatter, placing the shuttlecock into the front midcourt.
Drives and pushes may be played from the midcourt or forecourt, and are most
often used in doubles: they are an attempt to regain the attack, rather than
choosing to lift the shuttlecock and defend against smashes. After a successful
drive or push, the opponents will often be forced to lift the shuttlecock.
When defending against a smash, players have three basic options: lift, block,
or drive. In singles, a block to the net is the most common reply. In doubles, a
lift is the safest option but it usually allows the opponents to continue
smashing; blocks and drives are counter-attacking strokes, but may be
intercepted by the smasher's partner. Many players use a backhand hitting action
for returning smashes on both the forehand and backhand sides, because backhands
are more effective than forehands at covering smashes directed to the body.
The service presents its own array of stroke choices. Unlike in tennis, the
serve is restricted by the Laws so that it must be hit upwards. The server can
choose a low serve into the forecourt (like a push), or a lift to the back of
the service court, or a flat drive serve. Lifted serves may be either high
serves, where the shuttlecock is lifted so high that it falls almost vertically
at the back of the court, or flick serves, where the shuttlecock is lifted to a
lesser height but falls sooner.
Once players have mastered these basic strokes, they can hit the shuttlecock
from and to any part of the court, powerfully and softly as required. Beyond the
basics, however, badminton offers rich potential for advanced stroke skills that
provide a competitive advantage. Because badminton players have to cover a short
distance as quickly as possible, the purpose of many advanced strokes is to
deceive the opponent, so that either he is tricked into believing that a
different stroke is being played, or he is forced to delay his movement until he
actually sees the shuttle's direction. "Deception" in badminton is often used in
both of these senses. When a player is genuinely deceived, he will often lose
the point immediately because he cannot change his direction quickly enough to
reach the shuttlecock. Experienced players will be aware of the trick and
cautious not to move too early, but the attempted deception is still useful
because it forces the opponent to delay his movement slightly. Against weaker
players whose intended strokes are obvious, an experienced player will move
before the shuttlecock has been hit, anticipating the stroke to gain an
Slicing and using a shortened hitting action are the two main technical devices
that facilitate deception. Slicing involves hitting the shuttlecock with an
angled racket face, causing it to travel in a different direction than suggested
by the body or arm movement. Slicing also causes the shuttlecock to travel much
slower than the arm movement suggests. For example, a good crosscourt sliced
dropshot will use a hitting action that suggests a straight clear or smash,
deceiving the opponent about both the power and direction of the shuttlecock. A
more sophisticated slicing action involves brushing the strings around the
shuttlecock during the hit, in order to make the shuttlecock spin. This can be
used to improve the shuttle's trajectory, by making it dip more rapidly as it
passes the net; for example, a sliced low serve can travel slightly faster than
a normal low serve, yet land on the same spot. Spinning the shuttlecock is also
used to create spinning netshots (also called tumbling netshots), in which the
shuttlecock turns over itself several times (tumbles) before stabilizing;
sometimes the shuttlecock remains inverted instead of tumbling. The main
advantage of a spinning netshot is that the opponent will be unwilling to
address the shuttlecock until it has stopped tumbling, since hitting the
feathers will result in an unpredictable stroke. Spinning netshots are
especially important for high level singles players.
The lightness of modern rackets allows players to use a very short hitting
action for many strokes, thereby maintaining the option to hit a powerful or a
soft stroke until the last possible moment. For example, a singles player may
hold his racket ready for a netshot, but then flick the shuttlecock to the back
instead with a shallow lift. This makes the opponent's task of covering the
whole court much more difficult than if the lift was hit with a bigger, obvious
swing. A short hitting action is not only useful for deception: it also allows
the player to hit powerful strokes when he has no time for a big arm swing. The
use of grip tightening is crucial to these techniques, and is often described as
finger power. Elite players develop finger power to the extent that they can hit
some power strokes, such as net kills, with less than a 10 cm racket swing.
It is also possible to reverse this style of deception, by suggesting a powerful
stroke before slowing down the hitting action to play a soft stroke. In general,
this latter style of deception is more common in the rearcourt (for example,
dropshots disguised as smashes), whereas the former style is more common in the
forecourt and midcourt (for example, lifts disguised as netshots).
Deception is not limited to slicing and short hitting actions. Players may also
use double motion, where they make an initial racket movement in one direction
before withdrawing the racket to hit in another direction. This is typically
used to suggest a crosscourt angle but then play the stroke straight, or
vice-versa. Triple motion is also possible, but this is very rare in actual
play. An alternative to double motion is to use a racket head fake, where the
initial motion is continued but the racket is turned during the hit. This
produces a smaller change in direction, but does not require as much time.
To win in badminton, players need to employ a wide variety of strokes in the
right situations. These range from powerful jumping smashes to delicate tumbling
net returns. Often rallies finish with a smash, but setting up the smash
requires subtler strokes. For example, a netshot can force the opponent to lift
the shuttlecock, which gives an opportunity to smash. If the netshot is tight
and tumbling, then the opponent's lift will not reach the back of the court,
which makes the subsequent smash much harder to return.
Deception is also important. Expert players make the preparation for many
different strokes look identical, and use slicing to deceive their opponents
about the speed or direction of the stroke. If an opponent tries to anticipate
the stroke, he may move in the wrong direction and may be unable to change his
body momentum in time to reach the shuttlecock.
Both pairs will try to gain and maintain the attack, hitting downwards as much
as possible. Whenever possible, a pair will adopt an ideal attacking formation
with one player hitting down from the rearcourt, and his partner in the midcourt
intercepting all smash returns except the lift. If the rearcourt attacker plays
a dropshot, his partner will move into the forecourt to threaten the net reply.
If a pair cannot hit downwards, they will use flat strokes in an attempt to gain
the attack. If a pair is forced to lift or clear the shuttlecock, then they must
defend: they will adopt a side-by-side position in the rear midcourt, to cover
the full width of their court against the opponents' smashes.
At high levels of play, the backhand serve has become popular to the extent that
forehand serves almost never appear in professional games. The straight low
serve is used most frequently, in an attempt to prevent the opponents gaining
the attack immediately. Flick serves are used to prevent the opponent from
anticipating the low serve and attacking it decisively.
At high levels of play, doubles rallies are extremely fast. Men's doubles is the
most aggressive form of badminton, with a high proportion of powerful jump
A mixed doubles game - Scottish Schools under 12s tournament, Tranent, May 2002
The singles court is narrower than the doubles court, but the same length. Since
one person needs to cover the entire court, singles tactics are based on forcing
the opponent to move as much as possible; this means that singles strokes are
normally directed to the corners of the court. Players exploit the length of the
court by combining lifts and clears with dropshots and netshots. Smashing is
less prominent in singles than in doubles because players are rarely in the
ideal position to execute a smash, and smashing often leaves the smasher
vulnerable if the smash is returned.
In singles, players will often start the rally with a forehand high serve. Low
serves are also used frequently, either forehand or backhand. Flick serves are
less common, and drive serves are rare.
At high levels of play, singles demands extraordinary fitness. Singles is a game
of patient positional maneuvering, unlike the all-out aggression of doubles.
In mixed doubles, both pairs try to maintain an attacking formation with the
woman at the front and the man at the back. This is because the male players are
substantially stronger, and can therefore produce more powerful smashes. As a
result, mixed doubles requires greater tactical awareness and subtler positional
play. Clever opponents will try to reverse the ideal position, by forcing the
woman towards the back or the man towards the front. In order to protect against
this danger, mixed players must be careful and systematic in their shot
At high levels of play, the formations will generally be more flexible: the top
women players are capable of playing powerfully from the rearcourt, and will
happily do so if required. When the opportunity arises, however, the pair will
switch back to the standard mixed attacking position, with the woman in front.
The Badminton World Federation (BWF) is the internationally recognised governing
body of the sport. The BWF headquarters are currently located in Kuala Lumpur,
Five regional confederations are associated with the IBF:
Asia: Badminton Asia Confederation (BAC)
Africa: Africa Badminton Federation (ABF)
Americas: Badminton Pan Am (North America and South America belong to the same
Europe: Badminton Europe (BE)
Oceania: Badminton Oceania (BO)
A men's doubles matchThe BWF organizes several international competitions,
including the Thomas Cup, the premier men's event, and the Uber Cup, the women's
equivalent. The competitions take place once every two years. More than 50
national teams compete in qualifying tournaments within continental
confederations for a place in the finals. The final tournament involves 12
teams, following an increase from eight teams in 2004.
The Sudirman Cup, a mixed team event held once every two years, began in 1989.
It is divided into seven groups based on the performance of each country. To win
the tournament, a country must perform well across all five disciplines (men's
doubles and singles, women's doubles and singles, and mixed doubles). Like
soccer, it features a promotion and relegation system in every group.
Individual competition in badminton was a demonstration event in the 1972 and
1988 Summer Olympics. It became a Summer Olympics sport at the Barcelona
Olympics in 1992. The 32 highest ranked badminton players in the world
participate in the competition, and each country submitting three players to
take part. In the BWF World Championships, only the highest ranked 64 players in
the world, and a maximum of three from each country, can participate in any
All these tournaments, along with the BWF World Junior Championships, are level
At the start of 2007, the BWF also introduce a new tournament structure: the BWF
Super Series. This level two tournament will stage twelve open tournaments
around the world with 32 players (half the previous limit). The players collect
points that determine whether they can play in Super Series Final held at the
Level three tournaments will consist of Grand Prix Gold and Grand Prix. Top
players can collect the world ranking points and enable them to play in the BWF
Super Series open tournaments. These include the regional competitions in Asia
(Badminton Asia Championships) and Europe (European Badminton Championships),
which produce the world's best players as well as the Pan America Badminton
The level four tournaments, known as International Challenge, International
Series and Future Series, encourages participation by junior players.
The most powerful stroke in badminton is the smash, which is hit steeply
downwards into the opponents' midcourt. The maximum speed of a smashed
shuttlecock exceeds that of any other racket sport projectile. The recordings of
this speed measure the initial speed of the shuttlecock immediately after it has
left the player's racket.
Men's doubles player Fu Haifeng of China set the official world smash record of
332 km/h (206 mph) on June 3, 2005 in the Sudirman Cup. The fastest smash
recorded in the singles competition is 305 km/h (189 mph) by Taufik Hidayat of
Comparisons with other racket sports
Badminton is frequently compared to tennis. The following is a list of
In tennis, the ball may bounce once before the player hits it; in badminton, the
rally ends once the shuttlecock touches the floor.
In tennis, the serve is dominant to the extent that the server is expected to
win most of his service games; a break of service, where the server loses the
game, is of major importance in a match. In badminton, however, the serving side
and receiving side have approximately equal opportunity to win the rally.
In tennis, the server is allowed two attempts to make a correct serve; in
badminton, the server is allowed only one attempt.
In tennis, a let is played on service if the ball hits the net tape; in
badminton, there is no let on service.
The tennis court is larger than the badminton court.
Tennis rackets are about four times heavier than badminton rackets, 10-12 ounces
(approximately 284-340 grams) versus 85-93 grams. Tennis balls are about
10 times heavier than shuttlecocks, 57 grams versus 5 grams.
The fastest recorded tennis stroke is Andy Roddick's 153 mph serve; the
fastest recorded badminton stroke is Fu Haifeng's 206 mph smash.
Comparisons of speed and athletic requirements
Statistics such as the 206 mph smash speed, below, prompt badminton enthusiasts
to make other comparisons that are more contentious. For example, it is often
claimed that badminton is the fastest racket sport. Although badminton holds
the record for the fastest initial speed of a racket sports projectile, the
shuttlecock decelerates substantially faster than other projectiles such as
tennis balls. In turn, this qualification must be qualified by consideration of
the distance over which the shuttlecock travels: a smashed shuttlecock travels a
shorter distance than a tennis ball during a serve. Badminton's claim as the
fastest racket sport might also be based on reaction time requirements, but
arguably table tennis requires even faster reaction times.
There is a strong case for arguing that badminton is more physically demanding
than tennis, but such comparisons are difficult to make objectively due to the
differing demands of the games. Some informal studies suggest that badminton
players require much greater aerobic stamina than tennis players, but this has
not been the subject of rigorous research.
A more balanced approach might suggest the following comparisons, although these
also are subject to dispute:
Badminton, especially singles, requires substantially greater aerobic stamina
than tennis; the level of aerobic stamina required by badminton singles is
similar to squash singles, although squash may have slightly higher aerobic
Tennis requires greater upper body strength than badminton.
Badminton requires greater leg strength than tennis, and badminton men's doubles
probably requires greater leg strength than any other racket sport due to the
demands of performing multiple consecutive jumping smashes.
Badminton requires much greater explosive athleticism than tennis and somewhat
greater than squash, with players required to jump for height or distance.
Badminton requires significantly faster reaction times than either tennis or
squash, although table tennis may require even faster reaction times. The
fastest reactions in badminton are required in men's doubles, when returning a
Comparisons of technique
Badminton and tennis techniques differ substantially. The lightness of the
shuttlecock and of badminton rackets allow badminton players to make use of the
wrist and fingers much more than tennis players; in tennis the wrist is normally
held stable, and playing with a mobile wrist may lead to injury. For the same
reasons, badminton players can generate power from a short racket swing: for
some strokes such as net kills, an elite player's swing may be less than 10cm.
For strokes that require more power, a longer swing will typically be used, but
the badminton racket swing will rarely be as long as a typical tennis swing.
It is often asserted that power in badminton strokes comes mainly from the
wrist. This is a misconception and may be criticised for two reasons. First, it
is strictly speaking a category error: the wrist is a joint, not a muscle; its
movement is controlled by the forearm muscles. Second, wrist movements are weak
when compared to forearm or upper arm movements. Badminton biomechanics have not
been the subject of extensive scientific study, but some studies confirm the
minor role of the wrist in power generation, and indicate that the major
contributions to power come from internal and external rotations of the upper
and lower arm. Modern coaching resources such as the Badminton England
Technique DVD reflect these ideas by emphasising forearm rotation rather than
Distinctive characteristics of the shuttlecock
The shuttlecock differs greatly from the balls used in most other racket sports.
Aerodynamic drag and stability
The feathers impart substantial drag, causing the shuttlecock to decelerate
greatly over distance. The shuttlecock is also extremely aerodynamically stable:
regardless of initial orientation, it will turn to fly cork-first, and remain in
the cork-first orientation.
One consequence of the shuttlecock's drag is that it requires considerable skill
to hit it the full length of the court, which is not the case for most racket
sports. The drag also influences the flight path of a lifted (lobbed)
shuttlecock: the parabola of its flight is heavily skewed so that it falls at a
steeper angle than it rises. With very high serves, the shuttlecock may even
Balls may be spun to alter their bounce (for example, topspin and backspin in
tennis), and players may slice the ball (strike it with an angled racket face)
to produce such spin; but, since the shuttlecock is not allowed to bounce, this
does not apply to badminton.
Slicing the shuttlecock so that it spins, however, does have applications, and
some are peculiar to badminton. (See Basic strokes for an explanation of
Slicing the shuttlecock from the side may cause it to travel in a different
direction from the direction suggested by the player's racket or body movement.
This is used to deceive opponents.
Slicing the shuttlecock from the side may cause it to follow a slightly curved
path (as seen from above), and the deceleration imparted by the spin causes
sliced strokes to slow down more suddenly towards the end of their flight path.
This can be used to create dropshots and smashes that dip more steeply after
they pass the net.
When playing a netshot, slicing underneath the shuttlecock may cause it to turn
over itself (tumble) several times as it passes the net. This is called a
spinning netshot or tumbling netshot. The opponent will be unwilling to address
the shuttlecock until it has corrected its orientation.
Due to the way that its feathers overlap, a shuttlecock also has a slight
natural spin about its axis of rotational symmetry. The spin is in an
anticlockwise direction as seen from above when dropping a shuttlecock. This
natural spin affects certain strokes: a tumbling netshot is more effective if
the slicing action is from right to left, rather than from left to right.