If you’re new to badminton, you’ll be made of questions. You might wonder about the rules of badminton, or you might wonder what pieces of equipment it’s played with. I answered the former in this article on the basics. If you’re asking the second question, though, today is your lucky day — that’s what this article is all about.
Badminton is played with rackets, a shuttlecock, and a net. Players get a racket each and have to strike the shuttlecock from one end of the court to the other, onto the ends of their opponents’ courts. The shuttlecock must fly over a net that is about 1.524 m above the ground, according to the Badminton World Federation (BWF). Any contact with the net either results in a let or a fault.
Join me as I go into the details of each piece of equipment and how each can follow the rules set by the BWF!
What are the Essential Badminton Equipment?
Sure, players need a pair of shoes and some grip tape for the rackets if they’ve got butterfingers. Also, many pieces of equipment can go into a badminton bag. But if you’re going barebones, there are just three that ultimately matter.
A racket, shuttlecock, and net are the essential pieces of badminton equipment. These are the pieces of equipment that determine the course of a game. They’re so pivotal to how a game flows that the BWF has rules for their dimensions.
Each player must have a racket. The racket will be used to strike a shuttlecock from one end of the court to the other. Meanwhile, a net is in the middle of the court to serve as both a demarcation and obstacle.
These pieces of equipment need to pass the standards of the BWF, especially when they’ll be used for competitive play. At the highest levels of the sport, these pieces of equipment are subjected to testing and measurement.
The shuttlecock, in particular, has its own test and standards. Only after passing the standards for flight and trajectory can it obtain the seal of approval for tournament-grade play.
What is the Badminton Net
If you scan a badminton court, you’ll see lines that mark service areas and boundaries. In the middle, you’ll see the badminton net with a line directly underneath it.
The net in badminton is a fiber-based net suspended by a cord. The cord holds the net so that it stands about 1.524 meters above the ground. Atop the cord is a white tape that covers the cord and contrasts with the color of the net. According to the BWF, the cord that supports the net must be held taut by two posts on opposite sides of the badminton court.
The BWF has rules for the thickness of the dimensions of the net and the distance of the posts. Let’s start with the guidelines for the net.
Per the BWF’s equipment guidelines, the net needs to consist of a mesh-type fiber 15 mm to 20 mm thick. Held taut, the net needs to be 6.1 meters from end to end and 760 mm in depth. The net can be longer as long as the ends meet the two posts on both sides of the court.
The two posts supporting the net need to be at a certain distance from each other. Based on the BWF’s equipment guidelines, the posts need to be at least 6.1 meters apart. This is to accommodate the net with little to no space. Supporting the net is a cord that runs the full length of the net. The cord is on top of the net and must be supported taut by the two posts.
The two posts need to hold the cord so that the top of the net is 1.524 meters above the ground. When it comes to dimensions, a badminton net is much smaller than a tennis net. Elsewhere, I made comparisons between the badminton and tennis court, mentioning the net as one of the key differences.
In badminton, the net both divides the two ends of the court and serves as an additional obstacle. Here’s one fun fact about the net:
The net was introduced on a rainy day in 1863. According to the National Badminton Museum, the Duke of Beaufort had to bring the game inside to keep the game dry and going. Interestingly, the dimensions of the net were the same as the dimensions observed by the BWF today.
What is the Badminton Racket?
Badminton is a racket sport. So no discussion on badminton equipment is complete without talking about the badminton racket.
The badminton racket has an elongated 680-millimeter shaft with an oval or isometric head. The head is the area that houses the strings of the racket. Based on the BWF’s equipment standards, the head cannot exceed 220 mm in width, nor should it exceed 280 mm in length. The badminton racket also consists of the throat which connects the shaft to the head. The handle makes up the opposite end of the racket, occupying nearly a third of the badminton racket’s length.
Badminton rackets cannot deviate from the dimensions set by the BWF. The rationale for standardizing the dimensions of the racket is simple — to keep the game fair. With all players using rackets that comply with the BWF’s standards, everyone is on a level playing field.
The badminton racket used to be made of wood, which I mentioned in my article about the history of badminton. Since wood turned out to be heavy and stiff, the racket evolved to consist of synthetic materials like carbon and graphite to add control and ease to shots.
What is the Badminton Shuttlecock?
Besides the racket, the shuttlecock is an important piece of equipment in any badminton game. It’s so important to the flow of a game that the BWF has rules for its weight and dimensions. The BWF also subjects it to tests before tournament-grade games.
The badminton shuttlecock is the projectile used in badminton. It consists of a base that consists of either cork or rubber and a “feathered” portion. Traditionally, the feathered portion used to consist of 16 goose feathers. As time passed, plastic was introduced. According to the BWF, the shuttlecock must weigh between 4.74 to 5.50 grams — regardless of what the feathered portion of the shuttlecock is made of. Along with this, it needs to be 62 mm to 70 mm from end to end.
The badminton shuttlecock’s weight and dimensions contribute to its flight and trajectory. For tournaments, the shuttlecock needs to satisfy certain flight standards before being approved for use in competition. According to the BWF, the shuttlecock needs to fly at an upward arch, parallel to the sidelines.
Here’s some trivia for you:
Did you know that the 16 feathers that go into a feathered shuttlecock are from the left wing of a goose? The left wing was selected to create a consistent spin for the shuttlecock. If wings from both the right and left wings were used, the shuttlecock would not spin due to equal wind resistance.
How is Badminton Played Using the Essential Equipment?
A badminton game is played using the three pieces of equipment mentioned in this article — the net, rackets, and a shuttlecock. In a way, how the rackets and shuttlecocks are used resembles that of tennis. Let me explain:
Using rackets, two players or pairs hit the shuttlecock towards the opposite end of the court. The players do this continuously in a “rally” until someone fails to return the shuttlecock. When one player or pair fails to keep the rally going, the opposing player or pair scores a point. The net is an obstacle the shuttlecock must fly over. If the shuttlecock gets caught in the net, the umpire can call a stop to the play or a “let.” Also, when players strike the shuttlecock towards the net and it bounces onto their side of the court, they give away a point to the opponent.
In short, the game is a bit like tennis. The main difference is that badminton uses a shuttlecock for a projectile and has a different type of racket. More importantly, though, you’ll find that badminton is much faster than tennis!
All You Need is a Racket, a Shuttlecock, and a Net
Badminton is a racket sport — the fastest one on the planet. Beyond the skills players bring to the court, we’ve got the equipment to thank for that. If you’re looking to get in on the action, here’s my advice: Grab a racket, hit the shuttlecock, and steer clear of the net.
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