When most people think of Badminton they think about when they play it with their family in their back garden during summer. It’s one of the fantastic things about Badminton, that people can pick up and play and have fun. They think that’s all Badminton is. They never experience the professional and exciting fast-paced game at its best. They always ask the same question.
Is Badminton a real sport? Badminton is a real professional sport. It’s the fastest racquet sport in the world with over 220 million people that play every year. It’s been an Olympic sport since 1992. It’s a sport that requires fast reactions and powerful athletic ability.
Of course, there’s more to Badminton then that simple statement. Here are five reasons why Badminton is definitely a “real” sport.
The Olympics is regarded, by most, as the pinnacle of sports. Athletes, players and fans around the world from various sports await the Olympics with delight to see the best of the best. Badminton is one of the 33 sports in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It’s been an Olympic sport since 1992.
If the Olympics is considered sports highest achievement then surely every sport hosted is a “real” sport. Sports that require great skill, athleticism, tactical decision making to name a few.
Badminton has had great popularity throughout all it’s Olympic appearances and has witnessed some amazing moments. One of Badminton’s greatest rivalries flourished at the Olympics, Lin Dan vs Lee Chong Wei. Fans were treated to three epic encounters in 2008, 2012 and 2016, arguably three of the best matches of mens singles of all time.
2016 saw win their first-ever Badminton medal and it was also gold. Carolina Marin won the gold in Rio after also becoming the first Spanish player to win the coveted All England and World Championships the previous year as well.
Who could forget the emotional win for the legendary Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Badminton is the national sport of Indonesia, so the sport means a lot to the players and the country. That was all evident in Taufik’s response to winning the final point in Athens.
Witness all the winning moments in the video below thanks to the Olympic YouTube channel.
Second, only to football/soccer, Badminton is one of the most participated sports in the world. Boasting more than 220 million people that play regularly every year. It’s played at all ages and abilities. I’ve seen people as young as three to as old as 75+ play and they enjoy every minute of it.
Badminton is a very inclusive sport with adapted rules for those in wheelchairs and other disabilities. This, coupled with Badminton’s easy pick and up and play style means everyone can join in and have fun playing.
And the sport is only getting bigger each year. More and more people are discovering the joy and challenge of playing Badminton.
The BWF (Badminton World Federation) continues to develop the sport even more with the official outdoor format called AirBadminton. AirBadminton was designed to eliminate the challenges of playing Badminton outdoors and also the lack of infrastructure and facilities to play Badminton indoors in certain parts of the world.
As we mentioned earlier, Badminton is a great pick up and play type of sport. The shuttlecock is a light projectile which makes it easy for beginners to get hitting. The net is high so the shuttlecock has to travel upwards most of the time giving players time to reach the shuttle and hit. Players are confidently hitting with regular play with little to no help.
The learning curve after the beginner level starts to get very steep. Once players gain hand-eye coordination to start hitting they then need to start mastering the basics. Learning the proper grips including forehand, backhand, neutral and bevel grip to name a few. Mastering footwork that uses chasséing, running, jumping and lunging in various combinations to optimise court coverage.
Lee Chong Wei has some of the best footwork anyone has ever seen. He combines beautiful footwork with incredible speed and makes it look easy.
There is a huge variety of shots in Badminton and they all require fine-tuning and take a long time to master. Here’s a brief list of shots that players need to learn.
- Block shot
- Defensive lift
- Jump smash
- Net shot
- The serve (backhand and forehand, high and low serve)
All of these shots have variations that use slicing (straight and reverse), hitting with full swing or with a short flick, used in defensive or attacking situations and playing them cross or straight. The combinations are endless.
The best players in history have never mastered everything because there is so much variety that people naturally are strong at some things and slightly weaker in others. Players spend their whole careers enhancing their strengths and trying to mitigate their weaknesses.
When people think of professional sport they think of the superstars. Football has Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar and countless others. Tennis has Federer, Nadal and Djokovic. Icons of their respective sports and known all around the world.
Fans look up to their sporting heroes in admiration and with inspiration. Badminton is no different, although less popular in the western world the sport does have it’s share of legends and top players.
Anyone who’s seen professional Badminton in the last two decades will know the names Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei. Their rivalry is as epic as any in sporting history but commonly compared to Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal from Tennis. Their names sit beside Peter Gade and Taufik Hidayat and the four of them constitute the “Four Kings” of Badminton in mens singles.
The names don’t stop at mens singles though. The womens singles is packed with talent like never before. Players like Carolina Marin, Nozomi Okuhara, Tai Tzu Ying, Chen Yufei, Ratchanok Intanon, P. V. Sindhu and Saina Nehwal all currently playing in the same period is astonishing. The list of names goes on and on without getting into mens doubles, womens doubles and mixed doubles.
Money is always a topic when talking about professional sport. Badminton players don’t earn nearly as much as footballers or most other sports but that is changing. With the right endorsements, especially players from the far east, players can make very comfortable earnings.
Going back to Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei, each has been so successful that they have each received various brand deals from Yonex for exclusive and limited edition kits and equipment. In 2019 Sindhu managed to rank thirteen in Forbes Highest-Paid Female Athletes list. She was the only Badminton player on the list, a list dominated by Tennis, Golf and Football players.
Badminton is the fastest racquet sport in the world, fact. At the highest level, players hit smashes at over 350kmph! The fastest smash ever recorded was 493kmph in test conditions and the fastest smash hit in competitive play was 426kmph.
To compare that, the fastest serve in Tennis was 263kmph. That’s quite a difference in speed. The contenders for fastest projectile after the shuttlecock are Golf balls at 339kmph, Jai Alai balls at 302kmph and Squash balls at 281kmph.
Badminton is a serious game of speed and power. Players have to be fast, agile and powerful all at the same time. Badminton relies heavily on the anaerobic system during the rallies as players have to move explosively round the court. This makes Badminton one of the best HIIT workouts you can get. Maximal effort during the rally with very minimal stoppage between rallies. It’s perfect for those looking to burn fat.
Players need to execute technically difficult shots with pinpoint accuracy all at high speed. The Badminton court is relatively small compared to a Tennis court which makes winning against strong opponents very difficult without incredible accuracy.
How long is an average badminton game? The average length of a Badminton match on the World Tour is roughly 43 minutes. This can vary between doubles and doubles and will be longer for elite players and shorter for beginners.
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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