What’s the Prime Age for Men’s Singles Players in Badminton?

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If you’re a badminton fan (I hope you are!), you’ve probably seen many top players competing on BWF’s YouTube channel. These top players tend to range from 20 to 35 years old, but have you ever wondered what age these players perform at their very best? While it’s obvious that age is not the sole factor that determines badminton skill, it can certainly be an important one. Younger players may not have had enough time to learn while older players may have declined from their physical prime. So what age gets the best of both worlds? In this post, we’re focusing specifically on men’s singles. Let’s look at the data.

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Statistically, the prime age for men’s singles players is around 24 years old. Men’s singles players tend to be most physically fit around this age while also having enough time to train their badminton skills and game sense. Data shows that men’s singles badminton players can continue to play at the top of world badminton throughout their late 20s. However, results drop significantly once players reach their early to mid 30s.

Prime Age for Men’s SinglesLink
Prime Age for Women’s SinglesLink
Prime Age for Men’s DoublesLink
Prime Age for Women’s DoublesLink
Prime Age for Mixed DoublesLink

To get these results, we collected the ages of all the men’s singles badminton players that won gold medals at the Yonex All England, World Championships, and Olympic Games from 2000 to 2021. The ages that were used to calculate the results represent the ages at which the players won the tournaments. You can see all of the data visualized and organized in tables below.

Badminton Gold Medals By Age

We found that the most common men’s singles gold medalist age is 24 years old. However, the average and median ages are 25.5 and 25 years old respectively. We can interpret these numbers to say that badminton players have the highest chance for success in their mid 20s. The graph above resembles that of the famous bell curve, which suggests that getting results away from the average (25.5 years old) are less likely (i.e. more difficult) the further away you go from it.

Here’s all of the major statistics summarized:

Standard Deviation3.2

It is important to note that these results may be skewed due to outliers of extraordinary players, such as Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei. Players like these legends of badminton were able to continue winning major titles even as they grew older, which many others likely would not be able to reproduce. For example, Lee Chong Wei, was able to win the All England in 2017 at the age of 34.5 years old, which is extraordinary considering the age that most badminton players retire at. Moreover, Lin Dan was able to win his first All England at the young age of 20.5 years old. Their dominance of the men’s singles arena lasted for over a decade so many of the data points included are due to them, which heavily influences the results presented here.

Also note that the results are for professional badminton players and only take into consideration the top badminton players in the world. In fact, we’ve only included data for players who have won the gold medal. This is not to suggest that players all around the world cannot play well or win local or national tournaments. The data is only representative of the absolute top badminton players in the world during this time period. It is quite likely that you would come up with different numbers if you were to do an analysis of top men’s singles players at your local badminton clubs.

It is also quite possible for the prime age for men’s singles players to fluctuate in the future as badminton evolves and grows as a sport. Younger players will likely learn faster and faster as more badminton information becomes available. Or maybe new technology or medicine makes injury less likely and players can have longer badminton career lifespans. It’s difficult to tell what may be in store for us in the future, so take these results with a grain of salt.

The full datasets used in the analysis above are shown below.

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All England Results

2000Xia Xuanze21
2001Pullela Gopichand27.5
2002Chen Hong22.5
2003Muhammad Hafiz Hashim20.5
2004Lin Dan20.5
2005Chen Hong25.5
2006Lin Dan22.5
2007Lin Dan23.5
2008Chen Jin22
2009Lin Dan25.5
2010Lee Chong Wei27.5
2011Lee Chong Wei28.5
2012Lin Dan28.5
2013Chen Long24
2014Lee Chong Wei31.5
2015Chen Long26
2016Lin Dan32.5
2017Lee Chong Wei34.5
2018Shi Yuqi22
2019Kento Momota24.5
2020Viktor Axelsen26
2021Lee Zii Jia23
Standard Deviation3.8

World Championships and Olympic Games Results

Years 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 are for the Olympic Games.

2000Ji Xinpeng23
2003Xia Xuanze24.5
2004Taufik Hidayat23
2005Taufik Hidayat24
2006Lin Dan23
2007Lin Dan24
2008Lin Dan25
2009Lin Dan26
2010Chen Jin24.5
2011Lin Dan28
2012Lin Dan29
2013Lin Dan30
2014Chen Long25.5
2015Chen Long26.5
2016Chen Long27.5
2017Viktor Axelsen23.5
2018Kento Momota24
2019Kento Momota25
2020Viktor Axelsen26
2021Loh Kean Yew24
Standard Deviation2.2

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