So you think you know about badminton?

Most people have seen badminton in one form or another and consequently think they know badminton. However badminton may not be quite what you imagine. Here are a few common questions and answers regarding badminton.

Badminton is that game we all play at family picnics and in the backyard, right?

The backyard/picnic version of badminton is one type of badminton. Badminton as a sport is played indoors with much more high-tech equipment. Modern racquets are complex alloys of carbon graphite, boron, ceramic, aluminium and steel in various proportions. These racquets are very light, less than 3.5 ounces and can be strung very tightly. Also the shuttlecock is made of feathers, not plastic, and weighs between 4.74 and 5.50 grams. Shuttles cost about $20 for a dozen and last about one game, at the most. The net is five feet high, not the height of a volleyball net.

Even so it is still pretty slow, isn't it?

To play competitive badminton you need explosiveness, lightening quick reflexes and rapid hand-eye coordination. Why you ask? Well the shuttlecock has been clocked in excess of 180 mph (NO this is not a misprint). That's faster than the fastest tennis serve, and occurs regularly during rallies at the top level. Add onto this the fact that in doubles games there are often 40 or 50 shots in 20 seconds you can see that the first sentence was no exaggeration.

So what sort of action do you see in badminton?

A badminton match consists of constant highly concentrated action; running, jumping, twisting, stretching, running backwards, throwing and striking. In a typical match the athletes cover every inch of the court and run more than one mile.

Yeah right, how about some statistics?

OK then. Lets compare a Wimbledon final to a world championship final in badminton. The Wimbledon final lasted 198 minutes, the badminton final 76 minutes. Doesn't look good for badminton right? WRONG! The actual amount of time the ball or shuttlecock were in play were 18 minutes and 37 minutes respectively. Breaking it down further to the number of shots played (1 004 to 1 972) and assuming 22 feet traveled per shot per player we find that the tennis player covered about 2 miles, and the badminton player 4 miles. So the badminton player ran TWICE as far in under half the time. This just goes to show how tough badminton is. Tennis is a great game and most people understand the athletic endeavors involved in playing at the top level. From this example we can see that badminton athletes need to be in world-class condition.

Got any more stats?

Most certainly have; according to scientific experts (Department of Physical Education at Baylor University) badminton is one of the finest conditioning game activities. During a typical 3 game match, lasting 45 minutes the shuttle will be in play for 20 minutes. In this time the player will make at least 350 changes of direction of 90° or more and strike the shuttle about 400 times. About 150 of these stokes will be full arm swings (with the racquet, of course). Major league pitchers frequently have less arm swings than this in a game. Pulse rate can increase from 72 to 125 for a person in normal condition.

OK, I'm convinced badminton is a tough sport but isn't it pretty unpopular?

Not at all! Whilst badminton is a minority sport in the US it is widely played in Britain, Denmark, Sweden, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea and several other countries. Britain alone has 4 million players, about 8% of the population. As a spectator sport it is very popular in the far east. The badminton events at the Seoul Olympics were among the first to sell out, despite it only being a demonstration sport. The estimated audience for the 92 Olympic finals ran into the hundreds of millions, up to 1.1 BILLION in total. Global TV viewing figures for the badminton event at the Sydney Games are reported by industry insiders to have smashed all records making it the most viewed badminton competition in history. Journalists and TV commentators at the Games were already reporting that viewing figures for badminton had made it the most watched sport on worldwide TV during the first week of the Games and were expecting a figure of 2 billion viewers to have been achieved.

So badminton is an Olympic sport?

Yes it is. Badminton was admitted as a full medal sport at the games of the XXVth Olympiad in Barcelona 1992. The decision was made in 1985 and recognized the worldwide status of the IBF, which has 138 member countries. Athletes competed in Menís and Womenís singles and Menís and Womenís doubles. At the Atlanta games mixed doubles was added and the badminton at Atlanta was a smashing success. The badminton at Sydney was also very popular, with record audiences for the televised portions across the Asian countries.

So who won at the Olympics?

The Asian countries dominated again in Sydney, with China winning 4 of the 5 golds.Indonesia captured the men's doubles to prevent a Chinese clean sweep. Indonesia picked up two other medals (both silvers), S. Korea got a silver and a bronze, Denmark a silver and Great Britain picked up their first Olympic badminton medal with a bronze in the mixed doubles (Simon Archer/Joanne Goode).

Who are the best in the world?

At the moment (November 27 2000) Indonesia have the top two spots in men's singles (Taufik Hidayat at number 1), with Denmark and China having 3 players each.. China have almost complete dominance in womenís singles with 5 of the top 6 with Zhichao Gong at the number 1 spot. Indonesia have the top 2 menís doubles pair with Denmark and S. Korea having 2 pairs each in the top 10. China dominates the womenís doubles and the mixed doubles is split amongst China, England, South Korea, Indonesia and Denmark. The US are minnows on the world badminton circuit. The latest world rankings (which are released each month) will give you the latest information.

Have the US always been so bad?

No. The US were a major force in world badminton between 1949 and 1967. In this time they won 23 world individual championships (All England titles, the unofficial world championships that is). These were 1 men's singles, 12 women's singles, 1 men's doubles, 8 women's doubles and 1 mixed doubles. The women's team also won 3 Uber cup titles (team championships) and in 1955 the top male player was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Rather ironic considering it was the women who had the most success. Kevin Han won his first round match in Sydney before losing to the eventual gold medallist.

Are the top athletes professional?

Yes, at the top level you can earn a living playing badminton. The money is not enormous like in tennis, but if you come from a badminton country then other money and perks are available aside form tournament earnings. This career is not recommended though for those who anticipate earning loads of money and retiring early.

What other international events are there in badminton?

Aside form the Olympics there are the Thomas and Uber cups (men's and women's world team championships respectively) held every even year, World championships and Sudirman cup (world mixed team championships, held every odd year), Pan American games, US open and a number of Grand Prix tournament around the world. The Grand Prix tournaments are part of the badminton touring circuit, similar to the tennis tour. This year (1996-1997) on the tour the richest tournament is the US Open! Prize money is over $200 000, which is great, although peanuts compared to the tennis tour prize money.

How do I find out where to play badminton

You need to contact your local badminton association, in the US this is the USAB, their address is included on this badminton web server. Also there is a list of clubs from around the world on this server, look there, as one near you may be included. The US list is here.

Who did this page?

This page of the web server was prepared by me, Anthony Andrews. Blame me for any error or omissions. Thanks to Stan for setting the server up and putting badminton on the WWW map. If you have any information you want added then you can send it to me at the following e-mail address: aandrews2@ohiou.edu . If you need to use the postal service send it to Anthony Andrews, Chemistry department, Ohio University, Athens, OH 45701-2979, USA.