When you’re running and jumping across the court in the middle of a badminton match, your shoes are usually the least of your worries. With a shuttlecock moving at hundreds of miles per hour, I don’t blame you. Off the court, however, you might spare a bit of curiosity towards the make and material of the shoes that allow you to move freely across the court.
Badminton shoes are typically made of synthetic knits or leather for the upper area, thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) for additional details, cushioning material for the inner sole, and non-marking gum rubber for the outer sole. These materials are meant to complement the badminton play style — durability, flexibility, and traction are necessary on the court. The sole is an especially important component, as you’ll only be allowed on the court if your soles are non-marking.
Every part that makes up your badminton shoes works in tandem with the rest to ensure that your feet are supported properly. With the right shoes, you won’t have to worry about suddenly slipping or tripping during a match, which could result in a painful injury. To help you learn more about what exactly goes into making your badminton shoes, I’ll give you a rundown of components and materials (especially for the sole). Stick around till the end to hear about my recommendations for the best shoes!
What Components Should You Look for in Badminton Shoes?
To the average person, “good” shoes are a no-brainer. All they need to have is a great style and a comfortable fit, right? Make no mistake, when it comes to selecting shoes you’ll be using in any kind of sports, there’s a lot going on under the surface that you need to account for.
There are several components to a good pair of badminton shoes — lightness, flexibility, durability, cushioning, and of course, a thin, non-marking gum rubber sole. You want your shoes to be lightweight and flexible so they help rather than hinder when you’re dashing and making sudden changes in direction. Proper cushioning will also reduce the strain on your knees and ankles from frequent jumps. The simplest way you can check for these components is by looking up product details for badminton shoes online.
Aside from knowing what you should be looking for, you should also be aware of what you shouldn’t be looking for. Namely, a shoe designed for a different sport. Many first-time badminton players make the mistake of assuming that tennis shoes or running shoes can be used for badminton. First off, those two are outdoor sports. Badminton, as an indoor sport, has different needs, especially for the sole. Second, tennis and running require a different type of movement compared to badminton (e.g. tennis players mainly move horizontally while badminton players make quick horizontal, vertical, and upward moves).
What Materials are Used To Make Badminton Shoes?
Before I explain more about the materials used to make badminton shoes, let’s touch on the parts that make up a badminton shoe first. There are two main parts — the upper (the entire top part of the shoe) and the sole (the entire bottom part of the shoe). The sole can be further broken down into the insole (the part in contact with your feet), midsole (the part between the insole and outsole), and outsole (the part that makes contact with the ground).
When it comes to materials, manufacturers like Yonex often develop their own trademarked blends, such as the Durable Skin Light and Double Raschel Mesh used in the shoes from their 2022 catalog. Some of their shoes also use synthetic polyurethane leather (PUL) for the upper. Yonex shoes use their trademarked Power Cushion for the sole, designed for shock absorption and repulsion.
Which Sole is Good for Badminton Shoes?
As mentioned previously, the sole you need for badminton shoes is thin, non-marking, and made of gum rubber. Why is that?
A thinner sole will give you better overall stability and balance, with greater control over your movements. Gum rubber is the best choice of material for grip and traction — when your court has a wooden or synthetic floor, normal rubber soles don’t provide enough traction for pinpoint changes in direction. Lastly, your soles need to be non-marking, as a courtesy to whoever owns the court. Non-marking soles won’t leave streaks or marks on the floor, unlike other sole materials.
Manufacturers of badminton shoes ensure that their soles are non-marking, but if you’re curious about whether the shoes you have at home are non-marking, try out this test.
What are the Best Badminton Shoes?
There are a lot of good badminton shoes available on the market today. This situation comes with its pros and cons. Pro: you’re bound to find a shoe that you like. Con: you’ll have to wade through a multitude of confusing options first. Don’t worry about it — I have a few recommendations to get you started.
For beginners, I recommend the Yonex Power Cushion 65 X 2, which is both affordable and durable. On the other hand, if you’re searching for an extremely lightweight shoe with a ton of features, I recommend the Power Cushion Aerus 3. Lastly, my personal favorite is the Yonex Power Cushion Eclipsion Z.Meant for intermediate to advanced players, it has a solid, sturdy feel with a decent amount of features.
For a more in-depth guide to picking out badminton shoes, check out my Complete Guide to Yonex Shoes. By the end of it, you can call yourself a bonafide shoe expert!
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