The Badminton World Federation has standards for badminton court lighting, which can be different for different grade level tournaments. In order to create the best and fairest environment for badminton matches, these standards must be met. What exactly are these badminton court lighting standards though? In this post, I’ll explore exactly that.
In Grade 1 to 3 level tournaments, the minimum lighting level for a badminton court is 1000 lux and must be at an even level across the court. For high-level events such as the Olympics, and for events which are TV-broadcast or have still photography, the light level should be at least 1500-1600 lux.
If you’re wondering, lux is a measure of how strong the light is as it falls in a particular area: it is measured using a light meter in the area (which, for badminton, is the court), rather than being a measure of the light being emitted at the light source.
The lighting standards of a badminton court have to meet the challenge of lighting a high area above the court, sometimes nine to twelve meters high, so that a small object, the shuttlecock, can be seen with perfect accuracy – all without blinding the players and officials as they look up into the air. In this article, I’ll talk about the lighting standards of a badminton court for tournaments and competitive play, and why these standards are so crucial for this unique indoor game.
Note: I’ll be going over the standards that are used in tournament level settings. However, many professional gyms should also use these standards, especially if they host tournaments regularly.
Why are the Lighting Standards of a Badminton Court So Important?
Compared to many sports, badminton has some special features which make lighting its courts a particularly important and complex task. Here are some of the reasons why badminton lighting can make or break a court.
The shuttlecock is a small object.
The shuttlecock is only 2.75 inches (70 mm long), and weighs just 5 grams: truly a very small object. It has to be clearly and precisely visible to players and officials, from long distances.
The open space above the court must also be well-lit.
The space where the shuttlecock flies must also be well-lit, and this can be high – up to 9 meters! This requires a lighting setup that is powerful across distance.
The drop point of the shuttlecock must be clearly visible.
Players need to be able to accurately see and judge the trajectory, the height, and the drop point of the shuttlecock, even at high elevations. This visibility is crucial for effective game play.
Players have to look up into the lights.
When the shuttlecock sails high up into the air, the players, officials, and audience are all looking up – directly into lights, if they are downward facing. It is a big challenge to light a court and the space above it without creating unbearable glare.
Shuttlecocks, lines and net tapes are often white.
Shuttlecocks, marking lines, and the top of the net are all often white. The Badminton World Federation states that the top of the net must be edged with white tape.
The lines marking the court are only 1.6 inches (40mm) wide, and preferably white or yellow in color. Shining strong white lights on white objects, and having them remain clearly visible, is a particular challenge.
How Big an Area Needs to be Lit on and Around a Badminton Court?
The Badminton World Federation sets the standard dimensions of a badminton court. This is 44 ft (13.40m) long for both a singles and doubles court. The width is different for doubles and singles, with the doubles court width set at 20ft (6.1m) and the singles width set at 17ft (5.2m).
In addition, there must be:
- 5 ft (1.5 meters) between the court and the sidewall
- 6 ft 6 inches (2 meters) between the court and the back wall
- 4 ft (1.2 meters) between courts.
When the space above a badminton court can be up to 9 meters, it can be seen that the area which will need lighting of various intensities can be vast, particularly where there are multiple courts along with spectator seating.
What Type of Lighting is Used for Badminton Courts?
As technology changes and improves, better ways of using lights to meet the lighting standards of a badminton court become available.
LED lights are quickly becoming the light of choice for new badminton court lighting installations. They are a strong light source, and they are maintenance-free and never require new globes: many of them have an expected maintenance-free period of decades.
Some types have a special, luminous, asymmetric lens, which can focus projected light evenly onto a surface. In addition, LEDs with covers tend to be resilient if they are struck with force by a shuttlecock, compared to older lights which could shatter and lead to a costly cleanup.
What Nature of Light is Good for Badminton?
LEDs may come in a range of white-light presets. Normally, warm white or neutral white are effective for badminton court lighting.
Lighting that renders colors accurately is also important. Because line markings are white or yellow, and shuttlecocks are often white, they may blur out completely in a light that is too strong or does not accurately render color.
The ability of a light to accurately render color is called the Color Rendering Index, or CRI, which determines how close it is to rendering colors as you would see them in normal daylight. The higher the CRI, the more accurate the color rendering is.
LED lights that have a CRI of 85-90 are ideal for a badminton court.
How Bright Should the Light be for Badminton?
What are the lighting standards of a badminton court in tournaments? The Badminton World Federation has standards for court lighting. In Grade 1 to 3 level tournaments, the minimum lighting level is 1000 lux. This light should be at an even level across the court.
For high-level events such as the Olympics, and for events which are TV-broadcast, the light level should be at least 1500-1600 lux.
In smaller, local clubs and recreation centers, the lighting standards of a badminton court are usually modified from the Badminton World Federation standards, as many of these venues don’t have 9-12 meter-high ceilings. Adequate lighting levels can generally start at 200 lux and above.
Where Should the Lights be Placed for Badminton?
Direct lighting can be used, but it must be used with care. Ceiling lights, in particular, must be positioned with a mindfulness of the players’ likely viewing angle, to avoid blinding the players. It can be best to use lower output lights for direct lighting. A matte mask can also be fitted to the lens of the light, or an anti-glare cover can be added.
Indirect lighting is an important element in badminton court lighting. Lights can be positioned on the ceiling, walls, or floor, and can be angled, often on an individual basis, to allow light to “bounce” into the court space. This avoids direct glare.
How High Should the Lights be Placed Above a Badminton Court?
According to specialist badminton lighting design firm Enkarl, the height of lights above a badminton court is set to these requirements:
Class of play category
Installation height (meters)
Installation height (feet)
BWF level 1 tournament
|12||39 feet, 4 inches|
|9||29 feet, 6 inches|
|9||29 feet, 6 inches|
|7.5||24 feet, 7 inches|
Who Can Ensure the Lighting Standards are met?
For tournament courts, specialist lighting designers need to be employed to design the lighting setup to meet the requirements, particularly when the lux requirement is high. A specialist lighting designer or installer will be able to consider the construction factors for each individual badminton court, and will be able to draw on the full range of lights. The size, layout, and intended use of the badminton court will guide the lighting designer.
What Do the Lighting Standards of a Badminton Court Achieve?
In the long term, the lighting standards of a badminton court are achieving better outcomes for facilities and players. As lighting technologies change, and new builds or renovations are undertaken at badminton courts, the lighting standards promote excellence of game play, and drive facilities towards a higher standard of installation.
With an eye on the future, the lighting standards of a badminton court are promoting these values:
- The players are given a safe environment.
- Shuttlecocks and court markings such as lines can be clearly seen, even when a shuttlecock is high in the air and potentially backlit by bright lights.
- Officials are able to clearly see all aspects of the game.
- Spectators and TV crews get a well-lit game as well as safe lighting in spectator areas.
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