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Can Badminton be Played Outdoors?

I used to play Badminton outside, at least what I thought was Badminton. I used to play with a kids set that had plastic shuttles, simple racquets and a popup net. I used to with my brother and sister in the summertime. Looking back now it’s not really the Badminton we know and love is it? But it does bring up an interesting question.

Can Badminton be played outdoors? Badminton can be played indoors and outdoors for leisure and fun. However, it’s not possible to play competitive Badminton outside due to a few factors. The shuttlecock is a light projectile so playing outside with any wind will become impossible. Any weather but a dry slightly overcast day will be a problem as well, for visibility of the suttle if it’s too bright and for ruined shuttles and slippy courts if it’s raining.

It’s been mentioned by the BWF (Badminton World Federation) that they were looking at an official outdoor/beach format of the sport. So what are the main challenges of providing an official outdoor format of the sport and how might they be overcome?

Playing Badminton outdoors, the problems

We briefly touched on the problems with playing Badminton outside. Let’s explore all the issues that we face in more detail.

The shuttlecock through wind and rain

The first problem we have is the shuttlecock. The shuttlecock is unique in the world of sport. Other racquets sports all have balls as the object of play. A shuttlecock is made with 16 feathers from the left wing of a goose. Attached to a cork base and tied with string the total weight of a shuttlecock is around 5 grams.

A Tennis ball in comparison weighs around 60 grams. Twelve times heavier than a shuttlecock. Even a Golf ball is heavier weighing roughly 50 grams. The weight of the shuttlecock is a problem because it can be disrupted by the wind. Playing outside and blowing away in the wind means you’d rarely be able to control any of your shots.

Here’s an extreme and extremely funny example of the shuttlecock and wind.

As well as the weight of the shuttlecock being a problem the shape of a shuttlecock is a problem as well. Shuttlecocks are designed to decelerate after being hit. Their cone shape acts like a parachute, slowing the shuttles decent. The aerodynamics of a shuttlecock is designed to travel in a singular direction. Unlike balls which are spherical and can spin and roll and have equal air drag on all sides.

Playing outside on a rainy day can be trouble for a few reasons. One is that the shuttlecock will become waterlogged as the feathers will capture the rain. This will weight the shuttle down more and change the aerodynamics of the shuttlecock.

Playing visibility and safety

For the majority of a Badminton game, the shuttlecock is above head height. Meaning most of the time you or the other players are looking up constantly. It’s noted that certain halls and sports centres are not suited for Badminton because the lights are placed in bad spots. The shuttlecock can get “lost in the lights” and makes it impossible to see when hitting the shot.

The same problem playing outside. If it’s a very sunny day, or the sun is low in the sky, then players could find themselves blinded by the sun constantly. Badminton needs strong well-placed lighting for an optimal playing experience.

We mentioned rainy days bein problematic for shuttlecocks. That’s not the only problem rainy days will cause. Having a wet or damp playing surface is very dangerous. You see the courts being mopped all the time in international Badminton. The combination of fast play and lots of turning, jumping and twisting players need good footing to save themselves from falling. Any wetness on the ground can cause players to slip and that’s how injuries happen.

Outdoor/beach format? Crossminton!

The BWF noted in 2016 that they were looking at official formats for competitive outdoor Badminton. Eager to modernize Badminton and join the growing popularity of outdoor and beach sports.

Since 2016 there hasn’t been any further mention of the outdoor/beach format at all. However, an alternative has existed since 2000 and it’s called Crossminton.

Founded by Bill Branded and others who wanted a wind stable version of Badminton. They created the prototypes for equipment to be able to play indoors and outdoors on various surfaces without the need of a net either.

After years of developing as a sport, the ISBO (International Speed Badminton Organisation) was formed in 2011 to formally organise the sport. This would later be changed to ICO (International Crossminton Organisation) with the name change of the sport in 2016 to be called Crossminton once again.

Crossminton is more of a mixture of Badminton, Tennis and Squash. The closest relation to Badminton that Crossminton has is the speeder which is the outdoor equivalent of a shuttlecock. There is no net in Crossminton and instead, the two sides of the court are separated by 40 feet of empty space. The aim is to land the speeder in the opponent’s court or for the opponent to be unable to return or miss the court, much like Badminton. There are other differences but see our full article covering the sport here.

The three changes that Crossminton has that allows for outdoor play is the speeder, the court and the removal of the net.

The speeder is designed to be wind-stable. Being heavier than a feather shuttlecock and made from synthetic materials they last a lot longer.

The court set up is different, the two sides of the court are separated by empty space (the length varies for age groups etc) and the box each player plays in is 5.5 meters wide and long. This is narrower and shorter than one side of a badminton court. This makes covering the court easier especially if played on the beach.

The removal of the net is also a big help for playing outside because the approach to the game is different. Instead of having a lot of high lifts Crossminton is played more direct by players aiming to hit each other’s boxes. This provides less chance for the speeder to get carried away with the wind and for players to be blindsided by the sun.

Still want to practice Badminton outside though?

Not a fan of Crossminton? Or really want to stick to traditional Badminton whilst outside? Here are a couple of simple practices you can do even outside to get your fix.

The classic wall practice. This is a great practice regardless of doing it indoors or outdoors. It improves your wrist power and reactions. It’s even better playing against a brick wall that’s uneven with gaps etc as the shuttlecock will come back in unexpected ways making it fun. The wind won’t get in the way of this one too much as the shuttle won’t be up in the air for long enough.

This man provides a great example of the practice and some nice trick shots!

Flat driving practice. A tennis court is a good one for this. You and one other person stand on the wide singles line on the same side of the net and face each other. The aim of the practice is to try and drive the shuttle past the other one without moving off the line. You’ll have to drive it quite hard for the shuttle to travel the distance and even harder to beat the other person. For the same reasons, this can be suitable for outdoors with minimal wind because the shuttle is not high in the air.

Is Badminton indoor or outdoor game? Competitive Badminton is purely an indoor sport. The shuttlecock being affected by wind and rain water-logging shuttlecocks ruins flight trajectory. Rain would make the playing surface slippy and dangerous for all the twisting and jumping involved in Badminton. Badminton is played outside purely for leisure and fun.

How can I play Badminton in windy conditions? Playing Badminton outside in windy conditions can be near impossible. The only way to play is to keep it casual and not be too serious otherwise injuries are bound to happen.

If you found this article helpful return the favour and share it with a friend. 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.

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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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