Why Do I Need Non-Marking Shoes to Play Badminton?

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How many badminton players at the highest level have you seen playing barefoot? Exactly! Whether you’re a beginner or one of the pros, footwear can make all the difference. The difference shows up as improvements in your performance on the court. As well, the shoes you wear in your game can mean the difference between you playing and you being ejected or disqualified. For this reason, a pair of non-marking shoes are a must-have for any badminton player.

You need a pair of non-marking shoes to help the owners of the badminton court keep it in pristine condition. Non-marking shoes are designed in a way that preserves the badminton courts. These shoes prevent leaving of unsightly marks or streaks. Equally important is how they keep you injury-free, as non-marking shoes also provide better traction and stability while you’re playing.

Still not convinced of getting your first pair of non-marking badminton shoes? Not to worry. By the end of this article, I guarantee that you will. Read on to learn more about non-marking shoes and why a pair of sneakers just won’t cut it for you or a badminton court!

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What Is a Non-Marking Shoe?

When you walk into a badminton supply store and check out the bottom of a pair of Yonex Power Cushion Aerus 3 shoes, you’ll find the words “non-marking.” Yes, it’s a non-marking badminton shoe. But what is a non-marking shoe in the first place?

Non-marking badminton shoes are shoes fitted with soles made from material like rubber to make thin gum soles. The material that makes up the soles of non-marking shoes provides maximum friction and traction. With the traction and friction of non-marking shoes, these shoes result in lesser skid. The minimal skid or slide leaves little to no marks on surfaces like wood and other synthetic materials for courts.

Non-Marking Sole (Brown Gum Sole)
Non-marking soles ae thin rubber gum soles.

Non-marking shoes are a must for indoor badminton courts. Try to play in a pair of basketball shoes or even tennis shoes, and you might find yourself prevented from even stepping onto the court.

“Why?” you ask?

This is because a lot of indoor badminton court owners and managers want to keep their courts in peak condition. At least visually, “peak condition” means no marks whatsoever.

Tennis VS Badminton GUM SOLE
Tennis shoes soles are NOT non-marking

Not all shoes are capable of kissing the surface of badminton marks and leaving no traces of their soles. This brings us to the next point about non-marking shoes I’d like to cover — the difference between a non-marking and marking shoe.

What’s the Difference Between Marking and Non-marking Shoes? 

There’s more to the difference than just smudging the surface of a badminton court. While this is a big part of what separates a marking shoe from a non-marking shoe and vice versa, it’s the material that makes the difference.

Marking and non-marking shoes differ in the material that comprises their soles. Whereas marking shoes consist of regular rubber, non-marking shoes have soles made from varieties of rubber that don’t adhere to any “scuff” unlike regular rubber. By not picking up ground scuff or debris, non-marking shoes leave no remnants of friction on wood or polyurethane.

Regular rubber, unlike non-marking gum sole rubber, tends to pick up a few unwanted guests on and off the court if you know what I mean. For this reason, any shoe made from ordinary rubber can leave traces or marks on wood and synthetic floors.

Synthetic floors that are particularly susceptible to marks from marking shoes are wood and polyurethane. Other flooring materials vulnerable to marking shoes are polyvinyl carbon, and acrylic — materials that commonly make up the floors of badminton courts.

How Do I Know if My Shoes Are Non-marking? 

It might seem easy to tell the difference based on inspecting the soles. But without actually verifying a shoe’s non-marking quality, you’ll never know. I’ve found that there are easy ways to verify if your shoes are non-marking or otherwise.

One of the ways you can do this is with a friction test. The other is by subjecting a point of the sole to some pressure and checking the rigidity and recovery of the soles. Finally, you can check if the sole of your shoes is non-marking by drawing a line on a piece of paper against the heel and inspecting for marks.

Let’s get into these in greater detail, shall we?

The Friction or Line Test

Otherwise known as the rubbing test, the friction test requires you to rub the soles of your shoe on a surface. Of course, you may try this on an actual court. But this is risky especially if your shoes don’t turn out to be non-marking.

Instead, you can rub the soles of your shoes on a piece of white paper. After rubbing the soles on paper, inspect the paper for marks or scuff. If your shoe is a non-marking badminton shoe, you should see no marks on the paper.

The Pressure Test

The rubber used for non-marking shoes has the perfect balance of softness and rigidity. The rubber is supposed to be hard enough to prevent dampening of a player’s speed but hard enough not to dent or mark the court. Testing for rigidity and recovery requires subjecting the sole to some pressure from your thumb.

Using your thumb, press against the sole of your badminton shoe. Remove your thumb and you should see an indentation on the material that recovers to the original shape after a few seconds.

Sole Pressure Test
Press against the sole of your badminton shoe. Remove your thumb and you should see an indentation on the material that recovers to the original shape after a few seconds.

If you see this, you’ve got a non-marking shoe. If you see no indentation, the sole is too rigid, and you’ll likely have a shoe that can potentially leave marks on the court.

The Line Test (aka Drawing a Line with the Heel of the Shoe)

This is an interesting shoe testing technique I saw on Leaf TV. This time, take a piece of white clear paper. From here, draw a line on the paper using the heel of your shoe.

If you’ve got non-marking shoes, you should see no line — even if the soles of your non-marking shoes are black.

On the other hand, a line indicates that you’ve got a marking shoe. This means that you need to get a pair of non-marking shoes for your next badminton game.

This brings me to my next point.

Where Can I Get Non-marking Shoes for Badminton? 

So where do you pick up your next pair of court-saving kicks? You’ve got so many options.

The first place to look is at your local badminton supply store. Of course, a badminton supply store isn’t available in some places. If this is the case, a sports equipment store would be your next bet. Sports equipment stores have very general equipment offerings, so you need to specify that you’re looking for badminton shoes. If these brick-and-mortar options aren’t in the cards, your best bet is to buy your non-marking shoes online – such as Yumo Pro Shop or Amazon!

If you’re looking for a non-marking shoe, here are a couple of tips:


All non-marking shoes are not the same.

You might not have to specify that you need non-marking shoes if you’re buying from a badminton supply store. However, if you’re in a sports equipment store that offers sporting goods for various sports, you need to be specific.

There are non-marking tennis shoes. Some non-marking shoes are for volleyball. Others are meant for the wooden or acrylic courts of badminton.

If you’re in a store looking for a pair of non-marking shoes, specify that you’re looking for badminton shoes.

Try Them On 

I don’t just mean wearing them. Try on as many pairs as you’re allowed to and perform some of the movements you think you’ll be doing on the court. This can give you a better idea of which shoes are for you.

If you’re unsure of how to pick badminton shoes, check out my Yonex shoe guide. Sure, it’s about Yonex shoes. But it’s got an entire section on what you need to look for in a good pair of badminton shoes regardless of the brand.

Why Are Marking Shoes Bad for Badminton Courts?

Far be it from me to demonize any type of shoe. But there’s a reason you’re likely to be ejected from your local badminton court for rocking a pair of Jordans or Gel Resolution 8s.

Marking shoes have soles that are fitted with regular rubber. Indeed, rubber also makes up parts of non-marking shoes. However, the rubber on the soles of marking shoes tends to hold more debris. The debris or scuff causes the sole to provide lesser traction. In other words, there’s a higher chance of skidding. As a result, any sliding from lateral or frontal movement with marking shoes causes marks on the surfaces of badminton courts.

\Badminton Court with Sole Markings
Marking soles causes marks on badminton court floorings.

In short, non-marking shoes are the standard for their ability to keep the court free from skid marks. On top of keeping the courts in one piece, there’s the added benefit of a non-marking sole keeping your ankles in one piece too.

Leave It All Out on the Court — Except Marks

If you’re in the market for your next pair of shoes, go for the pair that allows you to leave an impression on your opponent. Avoid the ones that leave marks like the plague.

For the benefits they confer on the badminton court and the health of your knees and ankles, non-marking badminton shoes are a must-have. When buying one, don’t think of it as a splurge but something as crucial as your racket!

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