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What's the Difference Between Squash and Badminton?

Image credit: Photo by Pixabay - https://www.canva.com/photos/MADGxwuiCnw-question-mark-illustration

Squash and Badminton, two very different sports, but for people who have never played them they’re often mixed up and they’re not sure which one is which. It happens a lot with racquet sports that people can’t distinguish them from one another.

So people often ask, what’s the difference between Squash and Badminton? Squash is a racquet sport played inside a boxed court. It’s played using a rubber ball which can bounce during the rally. Badminton is also a racquet sport played inside on an open court with a net. It’s played with a shuttlecock and players aren’t allowed to let the shuttlecock bounce.

This is the most basic way of explaining the difference between Squash and Badminton. Most people understand these simple rules but there are a lot more differences between the two sports. Read on to find out a little more about Squash and Badminton, what they share in common and finally all the differences between the two sports.

A brief introduction to Squash and Badminton

Before diving into the differences between the two sports I want to give a brief introduction for both Squash and Badminton. Regular readers of this blog will understand what Badminton is, but for anyone new to the sport let’s introduce both.

Badminton

Badminton is a racquet sport originating from the mid-19th Century and is played with two or four players. The shuttlecock is used in Badminton, a unique piece of equipment in the sporting world. Players are separated by a net and hit the shuttlecock back and forth over the net. Players score points by landing it in their opponents’ court or when the opposition makes a fault.

Squash

Squash is also a racquet sport and can be played with two or four players. Played in a boxed court with four walls players take turns to strike the ball. Players score points when the opponent is unable to return the ball. The ball is able to bounce off multiple walls but can only bounce once off the floor. It’s estimated that over 20 million people play Squash around the world.

How are Squash and Badminton similar?

We’ll keep it short but it’s worth mentioning what these two sports share in common so we can better understand their differences. So what do they share in common?

  • They’re both racquet sports
  • They can both be played with two-four players
  • They’re both rally scoring, meaning you can score on either player serve
  • They’re both played indoors

There are just some of the similarities we can draw up. There are more similarities we can mention but these highlights are the most obvious.

Differences in equipment

There is specialised equipment in every sport, Badminton and Squash are no different. Sports equipment is designed and reiterated over many years with refinements to technology and hardware to make better equipment.

Badminton and Squash are both racquets sports and are both played indoors so you find that the equipment has some similarities, but they also have a lot of specialised differences to cater to the complexity of each sport. Let’s look at these differences in more detail.

Shoes

I’d argue the most important piece of equipment for any sport, shoes. If the sport involves moving around at all then you can guarantee there are specialised shoes for that sport, and for good reason too. Shoes are designed to aid and help athletes whilst playing, to help prevent injuries etc.

Badminton shoes are designed to provide optimum grip on court, comfort and support for the heel to lessen the impact shock travelling up the leg and breathability to avoid getting wet feet when sweating.

Brands add other features to shoes that they’re developed such are “talons” that are rigid supports to prevent rolling the foot. Form-fitting design like football boots to lessen the pressure on the top of the foot where the laces sit and so on.

Squash shoes are designed pretty much the same way for the same reasons. Both Badminton and Squash require lateral and forwards/backwards movements so both footwear needs to support that. In fact, Racquet Network mentioned in their post that Badminton shoes can be substituted for Squash shoes.

One of the few true differences between sports footwear is the weight of the shoe. Some brands have designed shoes for Badminton which are much lighter than other shoes which suit Badminton because it requires a lot of jumping as well as lunging, whereas Squash does not.

Racquets

Both Squash and Badminton feature relatively lightweight racquets. This is a direct link to the squash ball and shuttlecock which are very light compared to something like a tennis ball or even a cricket ball. Having a lighter projectile means the racquets can stay relatively low weight and still withstand the strains from rigorous play.

Squash racquets tend to be heavier than Badminton racquets in general. They can be slightly longer and wider according to the governing rules for Squash. Squash racquets come in two distinct varieties. Squash racquets with a teardrop shape head (open throat racquet) or abridged racquet (closed throat racquet).

The teardrop shape gives a larger sweet spot for hitting and gives the player more power with less effort. This is because the string bed surface area is larger due to the larger distance from the frame. The bridged racquet is designed to give more control by reducing the string bed surface area. The smaller surface area means the strings have less give in them creating a trampoline effect.

Badminton racquets generally come in one shape (unless you look at children’s racquets which are shaped differently). The shape of the head is rounded like an egg. Different racquets can have slightly bigger or smaller heads but keep the consistent egg shape.

Badminton racquets have a long shaft which plays an important part when a player is choosing one racquet over another. Different racquets have different levels of stiffness for the shaft. Summarised, the stiffer the shaft the more force is needed from the player to get the racquet to flex when hitting. Better players use stiffer shafts because they can generate the power necessary to bend the shaft when hitting which in return snaps back like a whip, generating more power into the shot.

Badminton racquets also have another trait worth mentioning. They have different balance points. A Badminton racquet might weight 90g but can be designed to have the balance of that weight distributed more towards the head of the racquet, towards the handle or perfectly balanced in the middle. These are otherwise known as head-heavy, head-light and balanced. Each type gives a different feeling when you play with them. If you’re getting a new racquet or your first one make sure to try out different racquets to find what suits you.

The court

Besides both being indoor sports, there are very few commonalities between a Badminton and a Squash court, they are simply too different.

Badminton is a long rectangular court that is 6.1 metres (20 ft) wide and 13.4 metres (44 ft) long. Divided into two halves that are separated by a net. The court is marked out with lines defining the service area as well as lines defining the boundaries for singles and doubles.

Badminton courts are equipped with minimum grip and maximum shock absorption to be safe for players. The courts are only designed to be played inside although the BWF is currently promoting its new AirBadminton format designed to bring Badminton outdoors.

The court is Squash is also a long rectangular court which is shorter but wider than a Badminton court. Measuring 9.75m (32 ft) long and 6.4m (21 ft) wide. The court is played in a walled environment which the players can use when rallying. The court is marked for service lines both along the floor and across the front and sidewalls.

The court is designed to give the players space to play off of any wall in the environment which creates some interesting opportunities. Players also share the court space together so have to manoeuvre with this in mind to not block the opponent getting to the next shot.

Squash ball vs shuttlecock

Both sports possess very unique projectiles in the world of sport. The squash ball and the shuttlecock. Let’s look at the squash ball first.

Squash ball

The squash ball is made up of two pieces of rubber compound which are glued together to form a hollow rubber ball. What’s unique about the squash ball is how it behaves once it’s being played with.

Squash balls have to be “warmed” up. This can be done mechanically or by the players. Without warming the ball up the squash ball will barely bounce. As the ball starts to get warmer it starts to become bouncier. No other ball in sports behaves this way. Due to this characteristic, there are different grades of squash balls.

The different grades are represented by different coloured dots on the ball. These are two yellow dots, one yellow dot, one red dot and one blue dot. The differences between the balls are the speed at which they play and how bouncy the ball is.

Shuttlecock

The shuttlecock comes in two varieties, the plastic nylon shuttlecocks and natural feather shuttlecocks. Beginners and social Badminton players tend to use plastic shuttlecocks for there enhanced durability but the majority of people playing Badminton use feather shuttlecocks.

The feather shuttlecock has a rounded cork head covered in a thin layer of leather and has 16 goose feathers placed into the cork to form a cone, each feather overlapping the next one. The shuttlecock is the only projectile in the world of its kind.

It’s a high drag projectile which means it falls slower through the air due to its shape and feathers acting as a parachute. Like Squash the shuttlecock comes in various speeds designed for different climates, humidities and environments. Watch the video below on how shuttlecocks are made, it’s a fascinating process.

Technical differences

Stroke techniques

Although Badminton and Squash are both racquet sports the techniques for hitting the ball/shuttlecock in each are quite different. In Badminton, strokes are both played anywhere from top to toe. In Squash the majority of strokes are played below the waist so there is rarely any overhead hitting except when serving.

Badminton relies on fast reflexes and faster racquet skills. You need to be able to generate speed with the racquet to generate power. This can come from full swings or shorter, sharper movements with the racquet.

Badminton uses a lot of pronation and supination with the forearm and rotation of the body and shoulder when performing certain shots. People often say you use the wrist a lot in Badminton but that’s not quite true. It’s a combination of using the wrist and forearm together not just the wrist on its own.

Squash generally uses more full swings when playing as there is rarely a situation where you don’t have time to get your racquet prepared. Squash also requires the pronation and supination of the forearm but, unlike Badminton, keeps the wrist static when hitting.

It’s also interesting to note that in Squash the player will use the same grip for both forehand and backhand shots. They don’t change grip depending on what shot they’re hitting. A big difference to Badminton where there are a few different grips for different situations.

Footwork and movement around the court

Footwork is key to any sport, Badminton and Squash are no exceptions. They both require explosive and powerful movements to cover the court. They both rely heavily on the anaerobic system during rallies and the aerobic system between rallies to recover.

Both Badminton and Squash use a lot of lunging to reach the opponents return but Squash relies on it even more than Badminton does. In Squash players are constantly moving side-to-side and lunging to reach the ball. They use less footwork going forwards and backwards but when they do they sprint to reach the ball.

Badminton uses a variety of movement including lunges, running, chasséing and jumping. Badminton players have to be agile, fast and powerful. Moving forwards, backwards, sideways and diagonally around the court. Players also use a lot of jumping to reach the shuttlecock at the highest point in the air to create steep angles when attacking.

Serving

Serving in Squash and Badminton couldn’t be more different. In Squash the server must hit the ball against the front wall between the two service lines. The player must stand in their respective serving box and serve off the wall to the adjacent box. A failure to do so will be considered a fault.

The opponent is also allowed to let the ball bounce after the serve. The player can serve underhand or overhand with no restrictions on how they strike the ball.

In Badminton, the service rules are a bit more complicated. The server must serve below waist height (or below 1.15 metres for elite professional tournament rules) and the racquet must be pointing in a downward direction. This means, at least for non-tournament level standard, players must serve underarm. Due to the complicated ruleset, it does mean that players playing in an elite tournament can actually serve overhand in Badminton.

There are different service lines for singles and doubles which changes the dynamics when serving and receiving. For Squash the service rules stay the same.

Playing indoors and outdoors

Both sports are primarily played indoors, however, Badminton is looking to expand to the outdoors with the new format AirBadminton, mentioned earlier in this post. Badminton can be played outside for casual play but it’s impossible to play competitively. See our article Can Badminton be Played Outdoors for a more detailed explanation.

Squash can be played indoors and outdoors but mainly indoors. Outdoor squash courts exist in places and is more feasible to play outdoors compared to Badminton.

The Squash court is a walled environment so the wind takes less effect on the ball. There is no net needed or extra equipment besides the walled court. The only maintenance needed for the courts would be cleaning for the glass walls. ABS Squash talks about Outdoor Squash in more detail. Also, see this concept video below for a Smart Outdoor Squash court that goes beyond the basic outdoor court setup.

Badminton is an Olympic sport, Squash is not… yet

Badminton has been an Olympic sport since it’s debut in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. It debuted with men’s and women’s singles and doubles events but it wasn’t until the next Olympic games in 1996 Atlanta when mixed doubles was also introduced.

The Olympic games is rated as the top Badminton competition in the world alongside The All England Badminton Championships, The World Championships and The Uber/Thomas/Sudirman Cup. It’s the title every Badminton player dreams of winning when growing up.

Squash, unfortunately, has yet to make its appearance at the Olympics despite it being a part of the Commonwealth Games and the Asian games since 1998. There have been multiple bids by the governing body to have it introduced. Squash was accepted as a demonstration sport in the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics and there is another bid to hopefully make its debut in the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics.

Can you use a Squash racquet for Badminton? You can’t use a squash racquet for Badminton. Besides being ineffective for playing Badminton (a lot heavier than a Badminton racquet) the dimensions of a squash racquet go against the rules stated for Badminton racquets.

If you found this article useful or know someone who might find this useful please leave a comment and share. If you feel I’ve missed anything out or have other advice, please leave feedback and share your help with others below. Thanks again for reading.


Written by Liam Walsh who lives in Manchester, England. Working as a Software Engineer but moonlighting as a dad, Badminton player/coach and creator of BadmintonsBest.


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