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Are Badminton and Tennis Courts the Same?

Some sports can share venues, you see it all the time. Football stadiums can host rugby matches and netball matches can be played at basketball venues. These are just two examples of how sports venues can be multi-use. People know there are differences between all of these sports and that just because they can be played at the same venue doesn’t mean the court or field setup is the same. They’re not the same.

So the question is; are Badminton and Tennis courts the same? Badminton and Tennis courts are not the same and there are many differences between the two. Badminton courts are much smaller than Tennis courts. Badminton courts are only designed to be indoors although the BWF has looked at outdoor badminton as a viable addition to the sport in recent years. Badminton court regulations only allow for one surface type whereas Tennis has other three different surface types which are clay, grass, carpet and hardcourt.

Some of the differences between Badminton and Tennis courts are more nuanced that not many people are aware of. Some of these differences are for important to avoid injuries to players of the sport and some are preferences of each sport. Let’s have a look in more detail the differences between the two.

The court sizes for Badminton and Tennis

The easiest difference between a Badminton court and a Tennis court is the size, the dimensions of the court. A Tennis court is much bigger than a Badminton court. In fact, a Tennis court is almost 1.5x larger than a Badminton court. BWF (Badminton World Federation) set regulations for the size of Badminton courts which must be 6.1 meters wide (20 feet) for doubles and 5.18 meters (17 feet) for singles. The length of the court should be 13.4 meters (44 feet).

Whereas ITF (International Tennis Federation) state that a Tennis court should be 36 feet (10.97 meters) wide for doubles and 8.23 meters (27 feet) wide for singles. The length of the court should be 23.77 meters (78 feet) long.

It’s worth noting that these are just the court surface sizes. Both international bodies also outline having more space around the court available as a minimum for play. This is especially important in Tennis where the players, mainly singles players, spend more time outside of the court marking then they do inside. Badminton players can also find themselves outside the court lines but is very rare.

Court surfaces, Tennis has four and Badminton has one?

As we mentioned earlier, Tennis has four different court surfaces approved by the ITF which are clay, grass, carpet and hardcourt. These reflect Tennis’ origins as being an outdoor sport. Clay, grass and hardcourt are all surfaces used in outdoor Tennis at all levels of play. Carpet is used for indoors and hardcourt can be also but you never see carpet surface being used at a professional level.

All of these surfaces support the way Tennis is played. You need enough grip underfoot to be able to stop and change direction but not too much that you’re unable to slide when needed. You do a lot more running longer distances in Tennis then you do Badminton.

Badminton however only has one approved court surface which is a wooden sprung floor covered with an approved playing mat that is normally made of PVC or other synthetic material. At lower level international tournaments, BWF accepts fully synthetic courts or wooden court surfaces, either permanent or portable, as long as they meet their set standards. Their standards document can be found here.

You do see however at club level and even county/regional Badminton that other court surfaces are more various. This comes from the lack of Badminton specific venues in most countries or lack of supplies for portable mats.

Why the fuss over specific flooring?

The regulations for both sports is not without reason. Tennis requires a lot of running so you need a good court surface to be able to stop and start running. Badminton requires you to move faster over shorter differences so you need more grip to be able to stop and start moving. Badminton also has you twisting and turning more because you not only have to deal with moving side to side but also moving forwards and backwards on the court. Having poor grip makes twisted knees and ankles and slips inevitable which is unacceptable at any level.

For Badminton it also very important to have a impact reducing flooring for the court. As well as moving around the court with speed there is a lot of jumping and general agility in Badminton to deal with. Knee injuries are unavoidable without a good court to play on.

There are four main flooring systems used in sports. These are:

  • Point elastic
  • Mixed elastic
  • Area elastic
  • Combined elastic

These four systems have set characteristics and are designed with either particular sports or general use in mind. Out of the four systems, only one is not suitable for Badminton which is the point elastic system. This system is normally a synthetic flooring material (usually a wet poured polyurethane) to cover an existing surface such as concrete. The point elastic systems create a more uniform playing surface and create some impact reduction for players but because it is only a top layer the are of displacement when the impact happens is only very small.

Mixed elastic flooring systems consist of a point elastic top layer with a synthetic area-stiffening agent used beneath on top of the base floor. This creates a wider area of displacement of force that point elastic systems have when used alone making it a better surface for Badminton.

Area elastic flooring systems are quite different in that they have a raised top layer above the subfloor. The top layer flooring sits in a framework of beams that create hollow parts in the flooring that allow the top layer to deform into. This system gives the best area of displacement for force upon impact.

The last system, combined elastic, is probably considered the best for badminton as it provides all the benefits of both point elastic and area elastic. The system consists of an area elastic design that has a top coating of a point elastic system meaning it has the impact reduction qualities and also the endurance qualities of a point elastic system for sports.

Badminton should never be played on hard surfaces such as concrete, tarmac etc because of the risk of injury. For professional level Badminton the BWF review all venues where Badminton is being hosted so that they meet their strict standards and regulations.

Indoor vs outdoor Badminton and Tennis

It might seem obvious but a big difference between the courts for Badminton and those for Tennis is that Badminton has no regulations for outdoor courts because the sport is always played inside.

Tennis originated as an outdoor lawn sport and has been adapted to be played in indoor arenas. Badminton, on the other hand, has never had a outdoor counterpart for courts because the sport becomes impractical when played outside. A shuttlecock weighs 4-6 grams which is nothing compared to a Tennis ball weighin around 60 grams. Playing Badminton outside with a shuttlecock becomes impossible if it’s windy or raining or anything else besides sunshine.

Related questions

Are Badminton and Tennis the same? Badminton and Tennis are both racquet sports but are completely different sports. Tennis is played with a soft nylon or cotton covered rubberised ball and Badminton is played with a shuttlecock. There are other differences such as the racquets being different, the rules and way they’re played etc.

What’s the difference Badminton and Tennis shoes? Tennis shoes have thicker padding on the heels of the shoe because of the amount of running done. They also don’t have non-marking gum soles on the bottom of the shoes which are designed for indoor sports. These two differences mean they’re not well suited for Badminton where you need more grip and more manoeuvrability for the foot.

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.


Liam Walsh

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


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