Badminton and racquetball are both racket sports — and popular ones at that! For this reason, they fall into that same-but-different category that all racket sports seem to fall under. Despite some similarities, badminton and racquetball have a world of differences between them.
Badminton is played with players facing each other, while in racquetball, players face a wall. Besides the positions of players, badminton and racquetball require different equipment. Badminton uses a shuttlecock while racquetball uses a ball. The courts and the surfaces of both sports also differ slightly, with the badminton court being larger than a racquetball court. The two sports also have different rules, particularly in their scoring formats.
Read on to learn more about racquetball and what makes these two sports different but similar in more ways than one!
What is Racquetball?
Just like badminton, racquetball is an indoor racket sport. But there’s more to it than that!
Racquetball is a sport where two to four players strike a ball against a wall. Players take turns doing this until one player misses and fails to keep the rally going. The player who causes the opponent to miss scores one point. Players race to 15 points which is the score cap for each game. Players need to win three games to win a best-of-four match. Racquetball games are played using rackets, a ball, and goggles for protection, as per the sport’s rulebook.
Place these two sports side-by-side, and you’ll quickly notice differences. However, as I’ve mentioned, badminton and racquetball have some things in common, too.
How are Badminton and Racquetball Similar?
Badminton and racquetball aren’t the most identical racket sports. If you want to know what sports are often confused with each other, I mentioned three in my article on why badminton is special. Nonetheless, here are a few things that badminton and racquetball have in common:
Badminton and racquetball are both racket sports. Whether they’re played recreationally or at their highest levels, badminton and racquetball are both indoor sports as well. The two sports both have governing bodies that organize and decide upon the rules of tournaments, games, and equipment. Badminton and racquetball games are also scored with a rally scoring system.
One other way in which badminton and racquetball are similar is that these two sports both have international legitimacy. In other words, the sports are played under the rules set by their respective international bodies, no matter where the games take place.
Of course, the international bodies that govern tournaments and equipment for the sports differ. Badminton’s international governing body is the Badminton World Federation (BWF), while racquetball’s international governing body is the International Racquetball Federation (IRF).
Speaking of differences, there’s more where that comes from.
How are Badminton and Racquetball Different?
Here’s where I draw the lines between badminton and racquetball:
Badminton and racquetball are played on courts that are different in dimensions and material. The two sports also have different score caps. You’ll see further differences in the required equipment for both sports, particularly in the rackets, projectiles, and eyewear. The method for scoring and the line for what it takes to win a match are also different between the two sports.
Let’s dig into these in greater detail:
As per the guidelines of the BWF, a badminton court must measure 13.41 meters in length and 6.1 meters in width. Held taut by two posts beyond the side alleys, a net measuring 6.1 meters and 760 mm in depth divides the badminton court into two halves.
Certain flooring materials are common for tournament-grade badminton. The BWF recommends that tournament venues have wooden sprung floors with non-slip surfaces. However, other materials like acrylic and polyurethane are also acceptable for tournament-grade venues as long as the BWF approves them. In my post on flooring materials, I mentioned polyvinyl chloride as the best flooring material for an indoor court
By comparison, racquetball courts must be 6.096 meters wide (20 feet) and 12.192 meters long (40 feet). This means that they’re a little smaller than badminton courts. Because players need to hit the ball against a wall, you won’t find a net anywhere near a racquetball court. Also, the material of the wall can be anything as long as it’s rigid enough for the ball to bounce on.
Yes, both sports require players to have rackets, but even the rackets are different.
A badminton racket needs to be 680 mm from the tip of the handle to the head. The overall width should not go beyond 230 mm, based on the BWF’s equipment guidelines. The head of the racket may be oval or isometric, as long as it stays within the 230-millimeter width limit and binds the stringed area.
The racquetball racket’s length, by comparison, shouldn’t exceed 558.8 mm (22 inches). This makes it shorter than a badminton racket. Another requirement set by the IRF is that a cord should connect the player’s playing wrist and the racket’s frame. If you’re curious, this is in 2.4(c) of the IRF’s racket specs.
Another striking equipment difference is the projectile used in either sport. In badminton, players strike a shuttlecock that weighs 4.74 to 5.50 grams. The shuttlecock must be 62 to 70 mm, as mentioned in the BWF’s equipment guidelines.
Meanwhile, racquetball players whack a ball that weighs 39.6893 grams (1.4 ounces). The ball also needs to be 57.15 mm (2.25 inches) in diameter and have a hardness of 55 to 60 durometers. The requirement for hardness is set to ensure that the ball bounces consistently on the court.
Lastly, players are required to wear eyewear in racquetball. According to the IRF’s guidelines, all eyewear must have protective lenses.
By comparison, eyewear is not a requirement in badminton unless you wear glasses or you just want to protect your eyes.
Both sports use a rally scoring system, so whether you’re playing racquetball or badminton, it doesn’t matter who serves or receives. You can score a point either way. However, it’s in the scoring format where the two sports differ.
In badminton, you win by scoring 21 points ahead of your opponent. You must do this in two out of three games to win the match.
Racquetball games are only played to 15 points. To win, you need to win three out of four games. If there’s a tie, you and your opponent will play a fifth game that’s only played to 11 points to determine the winner.
Is Badminton Better than Racquetball?
It’s easy for me to say that badminton is better, but that would be biased, wouldn’t it? So here’s the most impartial answer I can give:
Neither sport is better than the other, it just comes right down to what you’re into. If you like fast-paced action and keeping a projectile in the air for a rally, then badminton is for you. However, if you prefer the action of tennis minus the net and looking at your opponent, there’s no better option than racquetball.
In short, it’s all about your preference.
Either Way, You’ll Need a Racket!
Despite their differences, racquetball and badminton are alike in certain ways. To enjoy either or both, all you need is a racket and someone to play with.
Just keep some goggles in your gym bag if you’re looking to play racquetball!
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