Badminton is a highly enjoyable game and a hobby that can help you stay fit. It is among the rare sports that men and women play together. People of all ages can play badminton. However, you need to have a high level of fitness to play professionally. As you progress in your game, playing badminton is also a great way to make new friends at your local club or sports center.
Badminton is the second most popular sport in the world, after soccer. In South East Asia, children learn to play at school. It is the fastest racket sport with the badminton shuttle’s speed reaching over 200 km per hour.
In addition to being a fun game, badminton also brings several health benefits, whether you choose to play it as a hobby or on a professional level. Just thirty minutes of play on a regular basis can help you maintain a healthy heart and give you a complete body work out, while helping improve your overall health. It helps strengthen your muscles and keeps you flexible as you move around the badminton court.
Let us now get a quick idea of badminton, the game and what it involves.
The size of the badminton court for a game of singles is 44 feet long and 17 feet wide. For a doubles game, it is 44 feet long and 20 feet wide. The net’s height is five feet. While there is no rule for the minimum height of the ceiling, obviously a low ceiling is inconvenient.
Here is a quick summary of the ten rules of badminton, followed by a detailed description of the regulations related to the equipment used in the game.
The 10 Rules Of Badminton
1. The game of badminton begins with the toss of a coin and the winner of this toss gets to choose to serve or receive first, and also which side of the court they want to be on.
2. During the play, a player should never touch the net, either with her body or with the racquet.
3. The shuttle must never be carried on or rest on the racquet.
4. At no point should a player reach across the net to hit the shuttle.
5. To be valid, a player’s serve should be diagonally across the court
6. At the time of the serve, the player must not be in contact with the lines on the court, until the player making the serve hits the shuttle. The shuttle must always be hit from below the waist while serving.
7. When a player wins a rally, one point is added to her score.
8. A player wins a rally when she strikes the shuttle and the shuttle hits the floor on the opponent’s side and when the opponent commits a fault. A fault is defined as a player’s failure to hit the shuttle over the net or when the shuttle lands outside the court’s boundary.
9. Each side is allowed to strike the shuttle only once before it goes over the net. After it is hit, the player cannot strike the shuttle in a new shot.
10. If the shuttle hits the ceiling, it is a fault.
Your first step, when you begin playing badminton is to remember these ten rules. Then follow it up by knowing more about the laws and regulations related to the equipment you will use, namely, the racquet and how it is designed, the shuttle, its shape and weight and so on.
The Laws specify which equipment may be used. In particular, the Laws restrict the design and size of racquets and shuttlecocks. The Laws also provide for testing a shuttlecock for the correct speed.
Badminton racquets are light, with top quality racquets weighing between 75 and 95 grams (2.6 to 3.3 ounces) including the strings. They are composed of many different materials ranging from carbon fibre composite (graphite reinforced plastic) to solid steel, which may be augmented by a variety of materials. Carbon fiber has an excellent strength to weight ratio, is stiff, and gives excellent kinetic energy transfer.
Before carbon fiber composite, racquets used to be made of light metals and wood. Nowadays, nanomaterials such as fullerene and carbon nanotubes are added to rackets giving them greater durability.
There is a wide variety of racquet designs, although the laws limit the racquet size and shape.
Badminton strings are thin, high performing strings in the range of about 0.62 to 0.73 mm thickness. Thicker strings are more durable, but many players prefer the feel of thinner strings.
The choice of grip allows a player to increase the thickness of his racquet handle and choose a comfortable surface to hold. A player may build up the handle with one or several grips before applying the final layer.
Players may choose between varieties of grip materials. The most common choices are PU synthetic grips or toweling grips. Grip choice is a matter of personal preference. Players often find that sweat becomes a problem; in this case, a drying agent may be applied to the grip or hands, sweatbands may be used, the player may choose another grip material or change his grip more frequently.
There are two main types of grip: replacement grips and over grips. Replacement grips are thicker, and are often used to increase the size of the handle. Over grips are thinner (less than 1 mm), and are often used as the final layer. Many players, however, prefer to use replacement grips as the final layer. Toweling grips are always replacement grips.
Replacement grips have an adhesive backing, whereas over grips have only a small patch of adhesive at the start of the tape and must be applied under tension; overgrips are more convenient for players who change grips frequently, because they may be removed more rapidly without damaging the underlying material.
A shuttlecock (often abbreviated to shuttle and also commonly known as a bird or birdie ) is a high-drag projectile, with an open conical shape: the cone is formed from sixteen overlapping feathers embedded into a rounded cork base. The cork is covered with thin leather or synthetic material.
Synthetic shuttles are often used by recreational players to reduce their costs as feathered shuttles break easily. These nylon shuttles may be constructed with either natural cork or synthetic foam base, and a plastic skirt.
Additionally, nylon shuttlecocks come in three varieties, each variety for a different range of temperatures. These three varieties are known as green (slow speed which will give you an extra 40% hang time/shot length), blue (middle speed), and red (fast speed). The colours, and therefore speeds, are indicated by coloured strips fastened around the cork. In colder temperatures, a faster shuttle is used, and in hotter climates, a slower one is chosen.
Badminton shoes are lightweight with soles of rubber or similar high-grip, non-making materials.
Compared to running shoes, badminton shoes have little lateral support. High levels of lateral support are useful for activities where lateral motion is undesirable and unexpected. Badminton, however, requires powerful lateral movements.
A highly built-up lateral support will not be able to protect the foot in badminton; instead, it will encourage catastrophic collapse at the point where the shoe`s support fails, and the player`s ankles are not ready for the sudden loading, which can cause sprains. For this reason, players should choose badminton shoes rather than general trainers or running shoes, because proper badminton shoes will have a very thin sole, lower a person`s centre of gravity, and therefore result in fewer injuries.
Players should also ensure that they learn safe and proper footwork, with the knee and foot in alignment on all lunges. This is not only a safety concern, as proper footwork is critical in order to move effectively around the court.
Getting Started With Playing Badminton - What You Will Need
To get started with badminton, you do not need to make a large investment in terms of equipment costs or learning fees. You would need a sturdy pair of shoes with good grip, a racquet, a set of shuttlecocks and space where you can play. Badminton is a game that you can play indoors or outside. For a singles match you need another player and for a doubles game, you would need three more players in addition to you.
It is good to have good quality equipment; however, it does not mean you need the latest super-racquet. For around $30 to $40, you can get a good racquet from Yonex or Prince.
You will find two types of shuttles, the plastic and the feather type. Most beginners get started with the plastic shuttle and as they progress in their game. Plastic shuttles are more expensive than the feather but last longer. Feather shuttles fly faster and in some international games, as many as 20-30 feather shuttles can be used.
When you play, wear clothes that let you stretch and move freely. A pair of comfortable shorts and a t-shirt should be fine. But when you get into competitive games, you will need to wear all white clothing.
You might want to get a feel of the game before you actually invest in buying your kit. Try borrowing a racquet and shuttle from a playing friend. Add comfortable clothes that let you move freely and a pair of training shoes and you is good to go.
Learning The Game
To learn the game of badminton, it is best to learn the basics from a trainer or coach. Ask around in your neighborhood to find a coach who can teach you. To become proficient at the game, you need to practice diligently. So get together with a group of friends who play the game to get plenty of practice. When you decide that badminton is something you would like to stick with, you can take your game to the next level and join your local badminton or sports club for regular games and practice.
Although you can learn a lot about badminton over the internet, from books and videos, a good coach can teach you the essentials of the game much faster. You will also feel motivated to continue to practice as you get ahead with the game. You can find a coach by asking your friends who play badminton or find local pros in your area. There are badminton forums online where you can find coaches in your locality.
You can also check whether any of the top players at your local club are willing to coach. They may also be able to recommend good trainers. Take a lesson or two to see if you are comfortable with them and decide.
Playing The Game
The game of badminton involves serving, offense and defense moves. As you play, you score points over the opposite side’s players, whether it is a singles or doubles match. In a singles match, you have single opponent, while in a doubles match, you and your partner play against two opponents.
The toss decides who will serve first. The first serve is underhand and served from the court’s right side. Therefore, you will need to position yourself properly to serve. The serve must land diagonally from where you serve so that it lands across the net on the left side of the opponent’s side of the court.
Once the shuttle is served, the players play by sending the shuttle over the net, with each team getting one hit at a time. Suppose the shuttle lands on the court of the non-serving team, the serving team gets a point. Only the serving team scores a point. In case the shuttle lands on the court of the serving team, the opponents get the next serve. They can score a point by stopping play on the opponent’s side.
The aim is to do everything possible to return the shuttle to the opposite site of the court. This will mean a point for the serving team, or enabling the opponent to serve, depending on where the shuttle lands.
The serving team can also score points if the non-serving team plays, sending the shuttle out of bounds on the other side of the net. The game goes on, in sets of rallies to a score of 15. The first player to reach 15 points wins the match. Usually three games are played and the best two games out of the three win the match.
The current system of scoring by the International Badminton Federation is the Badminton 21 points scoring system. Here, the first team that reaches 21 points will win the game. Each time a rally is won, the winning team gets an additional point. If there is a tie with both teams scoring 20, the side that scores the next two consecutive points wins the game. If the score reaches 29 with no winner, the team that wins the 30th point is declared the winner of the game. The next step is learning about badminton strokes.
Badminton Hand Signals
Just like any other sport, badminton also uses hand signals through which the game supervisors and players communicate, keep track of scores and also regulate the game. Hand signals are useful because they are convenient for communication during the game, when the player must primarily focus on playing. Since players may be multi-national, hand signals convey simple messages in place of an accent or language that they might find difficult to decipher.
In badminton, there is a referee who is in charge of the game, an umpire, a service judge and a line judge. These are the people who use hand signals.
Umpires use these hand signals:
Raising right hand straight above head This hand signal is used with the words “(player’s name), warning for misconduct” when the rule 16.8 is reported about the player, or when the umpire observes it.
The services judges keep track of whether the player makes the correct serves as per the rules. Services judges use these hand signals:
Raising the right arm in front just a little, bending the elbow and keeping the palm vertical, facing the opposite direction This communicates that the shaft of the racquet was not below wrist level of the hand holding the racquet, or the racquet’s shaft was not facing towards the floor when the shuttle was hit while serving.
Keeping the palm facing horizontally downwards at the abdominal level and then moving it to the left and right below the waist level This shows that the shuttle was not below waist level while serving, when it was struck.
Pointing with the hand to the right foot, with the right leg extended outward. This shows that one or both feet were not in the service court until the serve was completed.
The palm of the right hand resting on the right side of the abdomen, with the palm facing the body’s left side and the fingers pointing downward; the fingers of the left hand pointing to the right hand’s palm and the palm of the left hand facing the abdomen This indicates that the player did not make the first contact with the shuttle.
Line judges use the following hand signals:
Both hands extend horizontally to the sides of the body This shows that the shuttle landed outside the court
Hand pointing to the line This indicates that the shuttle landed inside properly
Closing both eyes with the hands This shows the umpire that they are not sure where the shuttle landed.
These are the common hand signals used.
Badminton has governing bodies that regulate the game. Here’s a look at these bodies.
Tips to Improve your Game
Obviously, for any sport, dedication and practice are a must. With the right guidance from a good coach, you need to put in rigorous work on the court to improve your techniques and get better at the game. Here are some tips that can help you get ahead:
Grip: This is the first thing you must master. Your grip is the way you hold your racquet. If you don’t hold your racquet properly, your strokes will not have the necessary power and you will be at a disadvantage. You will therefore need to ensure that you get the forehand grip and backhand grip right as these are two major badminton strokes.
Footwork: Footwork is an essential skill if you intend to play badminton really well. Practicing your footwork will enable you capture various shots in a balanced way, as you dodge your opponent. Practice jumping, skipping, bouncing, shuffling, gliding and lunging as these are primary movements on the court. Learn to adjust your base position to match the strengths and weaknesses of the other player.
Serving: Your serve is one of your most important strokes in badminton. You have to time it well and make it effective as it can determine the course of the game. Therefore, practice the different kinds of serves like high serve, flick serve low serve and drive serve. The way you serve will make a huge difference to your game.
Clears: This is a crucial badminton stroke that you can play overhead or underarm with a forehand or backhand side. When you practice these, you can improve you game in a big way.
Drop shots: When you play badminton, your drop shots must be timed and positioned perfectly to give you the advantage. You can play drop shots on the backhand and the forehand sides. With a drop shot, you can make your opponent move to the front of the court, leaving the mid and back court free. Drop shots can be slow or fast.
Smash: Your smash is perhaps your most lethal weapon on the badminton court. Your best smash is when you direct it in a downward direction forcefully, with the appropriate power, angle and speed, making it tough for your opponent to counter.
Drives: Your drives, which are those shots that cross over the net flatly, are attacking shots you can use when the shuttle is too low to use a smash. You can play a drive diagonally across the court or straight down. They are more common in a doubles game where the shuttle’s height needs to be low.
Net play: You need to practice constantly at the delicate net shots. Practice with your racquet to become expert at the net shot, net kill and net lifts. When you are proficient at these, you can easily confuse your opponent.
Work with your coach to practice in the above with the right techniques. Watching professional players can also help improve your game. Above all, it is practice that gets you there.
Once you decide you want to take up badminton as a hobby, you will enjoy the benefits of becoming fit and healthy. Make sure you get your gear in place and know the rules before you jump right in. Badminton is a high energy sport, and when you decide to play competitively, you will need to ensure that you are in great shape, physically. Nothing can substitute hard work and passion when it comes to a sport, and when you are ready to put in both, you have a great game to enjoy.