Badminton is officially the fastest of all racket sports. Players can hit the shuttlecock at speeds of up to 180mph (288kph) toward their opponent. But, it is not just all about speed; a player can expect to run up to four miles (6.4km) around the court during a match whilst having the agility to maintain energy-busting rallies.
So, whilst stamina and agility are important, certainly at a competitive level, anyone can play badminton and the sport is a popular choice for people of all ages and fitness abilities.
So what is the appeal of badminton?
First and foremost, the basics of badminton are not difficult to master; even new players with little or no skill can enjoy their first game and progress quickly.
You need minimal equipment to get started playing badminton; if you choose to start off at clubs open to the public, all the equipment you will need can be borrowed or hired.
It’s great for conditioning the body! Step out onto the badminton court and you can expect to burn 600 to 1000 calories per hour as well as testing your stamina, flexibility and coordination.
Badminton is a social sport and offers a great way to meet new people.
How to start playing badminton
If you decide that you would like to take badminton further, you might consider joining a local badminton club. Wherever you live, there are likely to be several clubs to choose from so there should be no problem finding one in your area and most are not specific about the level of skill required to join.
As far as cost is concerned, the fee to join can vary from club to club depending on facilities and the type of membership you go for. Clubs are a great way to progress your game; you can alternate who you play with as well as having the advantage of a coach to develop and perfect your skills.
Essential gear for badminton
Appropriate footwear is a vital purchase for badminton. Anyone who has played or even just watched a game will know the pace at which players move around the court — players are constantly changing direction and agility on the court is vital in winning that all important point.
Your footwear must be able to support these movements and badminton shoes are designed specifically for badminton movements. The soles are thin, designed to keep the player’s feet close to the floor and provide lateral support. This allows the player to make quick ankle direction changes, whilst reducing the risk of injury.
Non-badminton shoes are adequate when you are starting out but be aware if you are wearing running shoes. Running shoes are designed with downward force in mind and they have a higher thicker sole not quite so suitable for the unpredictable movements of badminton.
There are a wide variety of rackets available which can seem a little overwhelming if you are new to the sport. But purchasing your racket needn’t be a daunting task.
As with any sporting equipment the prices range wildly so the best advice is to pick one you can afford and that suits your level. If you are starting out, it is not really necessary to go for a pro model, go for a lightweight one as they are more suitable for beginners.
You will also need to consider your style when choosing a racket. Are you player who focuses more on power or control in their game? Rackets are designed with different characteristics for different styles of play, so bear this in mind when making your purchase.
The weight of the racket is also something that should be considered. Heavy rackets are considered power rackets as it will give you more force behind your shot. Lighter rackets offer better control and allow you to more easily place shots around the court- therefore may be a better choice for beginners.
Testing the balance point of a racket, is another way to check which racket is right for you. To do this, hold the shaft of the racket on your index finger so that the racket is horizontal. If your finger is closer to the racket head then as you balance the shaft then it is more of a power racket, and if it is closer to the handle then it’s a control racket.
The shaft of the racket will either be flexible or stiff and again which end of the spectrum you choose can be determined by your playing style. A flexible racket is the best choice for beginners as it is easier to control.
The shape of the frame tends to fall into the isometric (square like) category or the conventional (oval) frame head. The isometric frame has a larger surface area with which to hit the shuttle, so would therefore be a better choice for beginners.
When picking a shuttlecock or the ‘birdie’ — you have two choices: those made of authentic feathers and those made of nylon. Not surprisingly the feather ones are more expensive and are considered to be superior but they don’t last as long as the less expensive ones. So when starting out the nylon versions are your best bet.
Although getting involved in badminton requires minimal equipment, you may want to start with a friendly knock up. If you have enough space, many manufacturers make sets that include the net, racket and shuttlecocks for you to get started with.
Playing badminton can have a number of positive health and fitness benefits on your body. Here are some of its key exercise advantages:
Improves aerobic fitness, with more oxygen circulated around the body to increase muscular endurance.
Burns off calories with energy being supplied to the muscles and not forming fat.
Boosting flexibility and sprint speed, due to the fast-paced nature of badminton.
Improves hand-eye co-ordination with concentration required for serving.
Develops the strength and power of muscles, notably leg and arm muscles.
Furthers concentration and mental strength, with matches often lasting for many hours.
- Boosts a player's cardiovascular fitness, allowing more oxygen to be pumped around the body and help provide energy to muscles.