A court specifically made for badminton may sound like a foreign concept, especially to those who may have been exposed to badminton through multi-purpose gyms or simply through casual backyard play. Let’s take a look at what the dimensions are for a standard badminton court, and how that knowledge may be used to make wise decisions on court.
The dimensions of a badminton court are 20 ft x 44 ft (6.1 m x 13.4 m), an area of 880 ft2 (81.75 m2). The diagonal length of the full court is 48.30 ft (14.72 m). Both singles and doubles are played on the same standard court. The difference is that the badminton singles are played without the side or doubles allies that extend 1 ft 6 in (0.46 m) on either side of the court. As such, the boundaries of the singles court is played on a 17 ft x 44 ft (5.18 m x 13.4 m) court space, an area of 748 ft2 (69.49 m2). Each of the lines drawn on a standard badminton court have a thickness of 1.57 in (40 mm).
For comparison, your standard tennis court is 36 ft x 78 ft (10.97 m x 23.77 m), an area of 2808 ft2 (260.87 m2), a whopping 219% larger than the standard badminton court! While the overall court size may seem comparatively much smaller, there are many aspects of badminton that make it electrifying! Shockingly, professional players may actually run twice as much in badminton vs. tennis! Check out our post detailing the similarities and major differences between tennis and badminton here.
What are the Differences in Size Between a Singles Court and a Doubles Court?
While the same standard court is used for singles and doubles matches, the singles court is played in a smaller court space, which makes perfect sense because the entirety of the singles court needs to be covered by a single player! In doubles, the entire standard badminton court is played on, as there are two players per side that will share the responsibility of covering the court. Badminton is a bit of a peculiar sport since the service area is different depending on whether you are playing doubles or singles – this may come as a surprise to tennis players who experience no difference serving in doubles or singles matches. Let’s check out the key differences between the singles and doubles court!
While the total area is not substantial, the elongated service area for a singles serve gives players the ability to hit a deep serve, forcing their opponents to the far end of the court to start the rally off. Pushing your opponent away from the middle of the court puts them at a less advantageous position as they would need to cover more court space after returning the serve and decreases the options of where the shuttle will be returned to. The main disadvantage of hitting a deep serve in a singles match is that it gives your opponent enough time to get behind the shuttle to choose their ideal response and execute a clean shot.
In a singles match, the dimensions of the court is 17 ft x 44 ft (5.18 m x 13.4 m) with a total area of 748 ft2 (34.75 m2), refer to Figure 2.1 below for a visual. This means that each player competing in a singles match will have to cover 374 ft2 (34.75 m2). The service area for a singles court is bounded by the short service line, the singles sideline, back boundary (also known as the singles service line) and the center line. The singles service area is 131.75 ft2 (12.24 m2), see Figure 2.2, which is just slightly larger than the doubles service area!
In a doubles match, as we mentioned above, the entirety of your standard badminton court is considered the play area (refer to Figure 3.1). The singles court is appended with an area commonly known as the alley, or doubles alley. The doubles alley adds an extra 1 ft 6 in (0.46 m) on both sides of the court. With a total surface area of 440 ft2 (40.88 m2), a pair of players will need to cover an additional area of 33 ft2 (3.07 m2) than that of a singles player.
The most notable difference between singles and doubles is in the service area. In doubles, the alley is fair game for serving, which unlocks a greater spectrum of angles to serve at. Interestingly, the doubles service area is smaller than that of the singles service area by 1.75 ft2 (0.16 m2) or 1.3%. Per Figure 3.2, you may notice that the doubles long service line is more shallow than the singles long service line. As such, it may not be wise to execute a high deep serve, as your opponent has to cover less distance to get behind the shuttle to execute a returning smash. With the boundaries on the doubles service area, you should take note that players often opt for a short, backhand serve instead.
While the area of a singles serve is just slightly larger than that for a doubles serve, the total play area of a doubles court after a serve is 17.6% larger than the singles court! To be fair, a doubles court is shared by two players. If we were to divide the total doubles court space shared between a partner pair of 440 ft2 (40.88 m2) in half, each player would be responsible for covering their share of a 220 ft2 (20.44 m2). Comparing to the court that a singles player needs to cover (374ft2 or 34.75 m2), a singles player actually needs to cover 70% more court space than a doubles player needs to!
How Can I Use the Dimensions of the Court to my Advantage?
Winning at badminton is equal part skill, tactic and strategy. So, how do you use your knowledge of the court’s dimensions to your advantage? By nature, a singles player will need to cover the entirety of the court during their match. One strategy to employ in singles is to deplete your opponent’s energy by moving them around the court. What better way to do so than to force your opponent to run the maximum distance of the singles court? As players will run the shortest distance to retrieve a shuttle, they will run in a straight line. In a rectangular court, the longest distance will be the diagonal formed between opposite corners. This diagonal is a total distance of 27.3 ft (8.32 m). Trust me, running this distance over and over can get tiring very quickly. This concept of longest distance does not necessarily exist within a doubles game as the positioning with your partner essentially halves the total area of the court needed to be covered.
In a doubles match, the court dimensions that players can take most advantage of is the width of the court. Especially with the buffer in the doubles alley, players can use it immediately off a serve. Serving to the outer edge of the short service and doubles side line can be a great way to pull the serve returner away from the center line. A rule of thumb in badminton is drawing players away from the center of the court usually making the court bigger for your opponent(s), whether by themselves or by their partner.
A similar shot that can be utilized in a doubles match is a quick flick serve to where the doubles long service line intersects with the doubles sideline. To retrieve this shot, the serve returner must react quickly and be drawn to the back corner, while simultaneously forcing a quick rotation for their partner. While this shot should not be abused – as the length of a doubles serve is limited by the long service line for doubles – it can be used to punish opponents who tend to hover over the short service line during the serve return.
What are the Dimensions of a Badminton Net?
As with any other official sport, there are specific criteria for each structure or equipment that is located on the court. The badminton net is no exception. According to the Laws of Badminton maintained by the Badminton World Federation (BWF), a badminton net is 20 ft x 2.49 ft (6.1 m x 0.76 m). This net is attached to two posts of 5.09 ft (1.55 m) height that sit on the doubles side lines. The rule with posts is that they may not extend into the badminton court beyond the thickness of the side lines (1.57 in or 40mm). The net must be stretched taut, so as not to have any space between the end of the net and the posts they are attached to. The very top of a badminton net is attached with a white tape of 3 in (75 mm) thickness covering a cord or cable.
Have the Dimensions of a Badminton Court Always Been the Same?
While the length of a badminton court has supposedly remained the same since the original set of rules from 1890 at 44 ft (13.41 m), the width has seen some change! However, in the late 19th century, the actual badminton court took on an hourglass shape instead of its modern day rectangular shape. While the width of the back boundary line has also stayed consistent since the 19th century rules at 20 ft (6.1m), the width at the net was only 16 ft (4.88 m), refer to Figure 5.0 for a representation of the hourglass badminton court. With this shape, the hourglass badminton court was 6% smaller than the current day standard badminton court. Find out other intriguing facts about badminton’s history, such as its transformation from a child’s game to the fastest racket sport in the world through our post: What’s the Origin of Badminton? A Surprising History.
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