I’ve talked about several areas where tennis and badminton might seem similar but actually differ — greatly, at that. I’ve talked about how badminton and tennis shoes aren’t the same. Elsewhere, I’ve also got an article on a let in badminton. In it, you’ll find that a badminton let is nowhere similar to a let in tennis. Now, I’d like to address the elephant in the room and talk about whether or not badminton and tennis courts are the same.
Badminton and tennis courts aren’t the same. They differ in terms of their dimensions and the height of their nets. Even the material of the net and the distance between the posts will differ in the two courts. In addition, the materials that make up the flooring of the two courts also differ greatly.
Let’s get into the details of what makes these two courts different from each other. By the end of this article, you’ll have seen that there’s a reason serious badminton players need non-marking shoes and not tennis shoes.
Badminton vs. Tennis Court Dimensions
Let’s kick off the discussion with the lengths and widths of both courts. Of the many things that distinguish a badminton court from a tennis court, the size of the playing area is probably the most apparent.
Between the two courts, badminton courts are smaller. According to the Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) Laws of Badminton, a badminton court must be 13.4 meters from end to end. The width should be 6.1 meters. A badminton court’s 13.4 x 6.1 dimensions will find itself dwarfed by the dimensions of a tennis court. A tennis court measures 23.77 meters in length and nearly 11 meters in width.
Owing to the differences in their area dimensions, the part of the courts between the two also differ greatly.
For badminton courts, players in singles games can move laterally within an area that’s about 5.18 meters in width. The singles area is marked by two parallel lines drawn at the sides. Beyond those lines are lanes that are about 0.46 meters in width on either side of the court. These areas are level play areas for doubles matches only.
Like a badminton court, there are markings for both singles and doubles matches. Of course, the legal areas for singles and doubles tennis matches will be bigger for tennis courts.
In a tennis singles game, players can move side to side within an area that’s 8.23 meters wide. Beyond the lines that establish the singles area are lanes that are 1.27 meters wide on either side. It’s legal to use these lanes when the game is doubles only.
Badminton vs. Tennis Net
Contrary to popular belief, the nets that you’ll find on a badminton court are different from those on a tennis court. Several characteristics separate a badminton court’s net from a tennis court’s.
The nets differ with respect to how high (or low) they are. Size is also one of the most obvious differences between badminton and tennis nets. Besides size and height, you’ll also find some differences in the material albeit marginal. Due to the size difference of a badminton and tennis court, expect the distances between the posts to differ too.
Let’s talk about these differences in detail.
According to the BWF’s Laws of Badminton, a badminton net needs to run from one side of the court to the other. It also needs to be suspended by two posts located on either side of the court. The net needs to be 1.55 meters above the surface of the badminton court. The net’s depth should also be 0.73 meters. This will result in the net creating an obstacle that’s 2.29 meters high.
The net of a tennis court is much lower, almost touching the ground. It needs to have a height of 0.91 meters stretched from one side of the court to the other, according to the ITF.
The difference in court dimensions carries over to the sizes of the net of the two courts. Because a badminton court is smaller than a tennis court, a badminton net is five meters shorter than a tennis court’s net. In other words, a badminton net measures 6.1 meters across while a tennis court net is 11 meters from one end of a post to another.
From top to bottom, a badminton net is about 0.91 meters. By comparison, a tennis net dwarfs this, measuring 1.07 meters based on the official tennis net dimensions set by the ITF.
One trait shared by both badminton and tennis nets is the presence of a cord that suspends and supports the nets. The cord runs from one post to the other and is covered by white double-layer tape.
Where they differ is the overall material. According to the BWF’s equipment rules, the net should consist of a fine black mesh material. The rules of the BWF also state that the thickness needs to be at least 15 mm but not go over 20 mm.
There’s a bit more range in the materials for tennis nets since tennis is an outdoor sport. The ITF mentions no type of material, but most courts have used polyethylene and polyurethane due to the UV-resistant properties of these materials.
In badminton, the posts need to be just a little over 6.1 meters apart. They should be far enough to stretch the badminton net to the standardized height but not so close as to encroach on the legal playing surface.
From one end of the tennis court to the other, the posts that support the net need to be 12.8 meters apart. This is because according to the ITF, the posts need to be three feet from the sidelines on both sides. Hence, unlike badminton posts that just barely touch the sidelines, the posts on tennis courts are farther apart due to the three-foot gap on both sides.
Badminton vs. Tennis Court Materials
Badminton is an indoor sport while tennis — for the most part — is a sport played in an open-air environment. For this reason, the materials that make up the flooring of the two courts differ greatly.
Badminton court flooring materials include synthetic materials like polyurethane and polyvinyl carbon. Wood board is also a flooring material common in many indoor badminton facilities. To survive the wear-and-tear of the elements outdoors, tennis courts are floored using different materials. Besides the synthetic turf grass, hybrid clay has also been included as an official ITF court flooring material.
There are two materials that you’ll find in both types of courts — acrylic and polyurethane. These two materials are applied in different ways to badminton and tennis courts. Tennis courts usually consist of one layer of material. In rare cases, there will be some layering.
Badminton courts, on the other hand, usually consist of multiple layers of materials. For example, concrete or wood boards can serve as the base layer. Atop this can be an impact-absorbent layer of either PVC or PU.
Can You Play Competitive Badminton on a Tennis Court?
To be clear, you won’t be excommunicated by the BWF for knocking a shuttlecock about on a tennis court — you will not be banned from recreational badminton for using a tennis court.
However, for competitive badminton, it isn’t possible to play on a tennis court. Besides the fact that the BWF doesn’t allow this for competitions, everything about a tennis court will negatively impact a game of badminton. Everything from the court’s dimensions to the height of the net will throw off your badminton game — and let’s not forget what the hybrid clay will do to your new Yonex Power Cushion Eclipsion Zs.
You could play badminton recreationally on a tennis court. However, to do this, you’ll have to find some way to convert the tennis court into a badminton court. You can do this by marking service areas and boundary lines based on BWF standards. You’ll also have to raise the net to the standards set by the BWF.
If you are absolutely curious, I’ve written about how to convert a tennis court into a badminton court.
The Badminton Court — Smaller but Action-packed
By now, you’ll have seen that a badminton court is smaller than a tennis court. However, for what a badminton court lacks in size, it makes up for in action. The smaller surface area and higher net enable fast-paced play and jaw-dropping smashes and slices.
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