Badminton is a misunderstood sport in most of the world. In fact, while there are badminton communities worldwide, only a small portion of these countries are actually competitive enough to win international titles. This means that badminton is actually quite small in most countries and many people haven’t been exposed to the sport for what it really is. In this post, we’ll take a look at the 5 most common myths about badminton and why they’re wrong.
Myth 1: It’s Easy
The number one myth of badminton is that it’s easy. In fact, many people – especially in the western world – believe that badminton isn’t even a “real” sport. People think this way because they just see a weirdly shaped racket and a light-weight shuttle being hit back and forth. To them, it looks like something that they can do easily. After all, how difficult is it to hit a shuttle over the net? Well, more difficult than they think. But they never gave it a shot.
Moreover, these people assume that it’s not a physically challenging sport because it’s non-contact since players interact indirectly through the shuttle and are not allowed to push each other around. Nothing could be further from the truth. Serious badminton players – especially professionals – go through rigorous training that will guarantee to make you sore. Just try doing 10 jump smashes while going side to side at the back court and you’ll be out of breath.
Seriously, badminton training is no joke. Professionals train their physical fitness for their whole lives just to get a shot at winning one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world. I thought I was training hard when I was training for 5 hours a day, but these professionals train 10+ hours a day. From footwork and technique to weight lifting, sprinting, and even running up mountains. They’re not playing around. Trust me, I’ve seen it first hand. They have to train ridiculously hard to get to where they are and it shows. If you don’t believe me, check out these ripped photos of some of the best players in the world.
People should not mistaken “easy-to-start-playing” as “easy”. There is a big difference. Just take basketball for instance. It’s quite easy to start playing it, but it’s certainly not easy to play it well. Same thing with badminton. Only until people actually try out the sport against players who are actually good, will they understand how difficult of a sport it is.
If someone ever tells you that badminton is easy, you can tell them that it’s certainly easy to play badly. Then proceed to beat them 21 to 0. Yup, it’s pretty easy to lose – not so much to win.
Myth 2: It’s an Outdoor Sport
There are so many people who think badminton is an outdoor sport. And in a way it is but that’s only because it can be played outdoors, not that it should be played outdoors. A lot of people like to play badminton outdoors as a recreational activity during a picnic or during a day out in the park. There’s nothing wrong with that, but don’t confuse outdoor badminton for the real sport of indoor badminton. The gameplay is drastically different due to the environmental factors. Outdoor badminton does not bring justice to what badminton can truly offer.
Outdoor badminton has far too many issues that come with the environment. For one, it’s usually far too windy to make the game remotely fair or skill based. Even a slight bit of wind can make the shuttle move drastically since it’s so light. Even if there wasn’t wind, the court is usually set up in the middle of a field, which is usually grassy or uneven, making movement much more difficult. Outdoor badminton essentially takes out aspects of control and footwork – both of which are crucial in making badminton the fun and exciting game that we know it is.
If you really want to play outdoor badminton, you should look into AirBadminton, which was designed by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) specifically for a badminton-like game to play outdoors. It uses a specially made AirShuttle that is more wind resistant than normal badminton shuttles. It also has its own specially designed court and is made to support up to 3 vs 3.
Another potential issue in indoor badminton is the lighting. All the lighting is artificial since everything is, obviously, indoors. The lights should be placed in a way such that players will not be blinded when they look up (which happens often) but should also be strong enough to brighten the entire court.
Lastly, the colors of the court’s floors, walls, and ceiling are also important to having a good and fair experience. Bad color schemes will make it difficult to see the shuttle or tell if it lands in or out. There needs to be a good enough contrast between the colors to make it easy to tell exactly where the shuttle is.
Myth 3: Badminton is Similar to Tennis
When I meet people who don’t know much about badminton, they always ask me if it’s like tennis. Really, they’re both racket sports and have a net, but the similarities end pretty quickly after that. From equipment, rules, and especially gameplay – badminton and tennis are very different.
Badminton is played indoors on a 20 ft x 44 ft (6.1 m x 13.4 m) court, using thin and lanky badminton rackets to hit a lightweight shuttlecock (or “birdie”). It’s the fastest racket sport in the world and uses a rally scoring system.
Tennis, on the other hand, is often played outdoors on a 27 ft x 78 ft (8.2 m x 23.8 m) court with bulky tennis rackets and a round and dense tennis ball. It’s a widely recognized sport and uses a special scoring system where players can, in theory, play forever.
Tennis players often think that they can transition over to badminton really easily because they’re both racket sports, but what usually happens is that they end up using way more power than necessary to hit the shuttle. This happens because tennis form is not the same as badminton form – far from it. Tennis players lock their wrists when they strike the ball but badminton players need to snap their wrist (not forward though, ask an experienced player for proper technique or else you might hurt yourself) so they keep their wrist and forearm loose.
In any case, there are many differences between badminton and tennis which I can go on many paragraphs about. I’ll leave you with our full comparison over in Badminton Vs Tennis: What’s the Difference? if you want a more in-depth explanation.
Myth 4: Higher String Tension Means More Power
Beginners often think that higher tension means more power. That is, in fact, not true. Higher tension actually helps with more control rather than with power.
Beginners will often try out high tensions to “show off” to their friends or boost their ego since they think higher string tension is always better. Little do they know that it’s likely making their gameplay worse. The sweet spot, which is the spot of a racket’s string bed that can be stretched the most and is the best place for you to hit in, is smaller the higher the string tension is, which makes it more difficult to hit. For this reason, we don’t recommend beginners to string their rackets at high tensions.
If you’re wondering what tension you should string your racket at, we have a full post just about it – What Badminton String Tension Should I Use?. We break down our recommended tensions for your skill level and more importantly whythat is the case. It’ll change your view on string tension forever.
Higher string tension will also make the strings easier to break – both because the tension is higher and because it’s easier to mishit the sweet spot (since the sweet spot is smaller). You’ll be going through a lot more strings than necessary if you haven’t reached the correct level, which also means a lot more $$ to restring your rackets – and nobody likes that. In fact, we’ve gone over the most common reasons why badminton strings break over in a previous post. Understanding these reasons can save you some serious money, so I’d definitely recommend reading it at least once – you can view it at Why Do Badminton Strings Break?.
Myth 5: Smashes are the Best Shot
I get it, smashes look pretty cool. They’re flashy, fast, and you feel like a rockstar when you pull off a good one. But should you be smashing every chance you get? What if I told you that it can actually hurt your game by focusing on smashing too much?
Beginners often focus on practicing smashes because they want to impress their friends, boost their ego, and intimidate their opponents. However, there’s no point in doing so if they aren’t even able to do clears or footwork properly. They end up with terrible form and using only their arm and shoulder to generate all of the power. This can and will lead to injuries such as the rotator cuff tear, which is one of the most common badminton injuries.
Even if you have great form, you’ll want to think about when to smash. Being off balance or in a bad position can actually put you in a losing position. If you’re off balance, your smash will likely be of worse quality. Meaning that it’s probably slower, not as steep, or won’t land in the position you want it to. Perhaps more importantly though, is that you won’t be ready for the follow up! Since you’re off balance, it will take you additional time and energy to stabilize. It’s pretty common to see points where players outright lose the point from doing a smash at the wrong time because of this.
Remember, smashes are the fastest type of standard badminton shot. The faster you hit a shot, the faster it comes back. So you better be ready for the return. Otherwise you’re betting the entire point on winning with the smash outright, especially if you’re playing singles.
If you watch some of the best singles players in the world, you’ll notice that they carefully choose when and where to smash. It’s better to wait for a winning position to smash rather than to smash for no reason. They know that their opponent’s defense is good, and smashing for no reason will waste their own energy or put them in a bad spot.
In doubles, smashes are more frequent. Players are able to do so more often because they have a partner to help cover the next shot. However, the same principles can still apply if the opponents have open shots into empty spaces. Even in professional games, slower shots such as drops can be devastating or even outright winning. Just watch the talented Yuta Watanabe pull out stunning drop shots that trick some of the best players in the world. It’s absolutely mesmerizing.