It’s Cold Outside… How About a Little Badminton?

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I’ll be the first to say that where I live is not conducive to playing tennis year round. My school takes down the tennis nets in November, and likely will not put them up for another 4 months or so. Every year, I can expect some six feet of snow to get dumped on the pristine tennis courts. By mid-October, temperatures are dropping below freezing.

I love tennis. Really, really, really do. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here writing this for The Tennis Depot or wouldn’t string rackets, etc. But of the reality of the situation means that during around 3-4 months of the year, I am very much limited by, uh, outside circumstances in how much tennis I can actually play.

That’s why I’ve picked up some other racket sports, namely squash and badminton. As the title of this blog suggests, I’m going to be focusing on badminton today.

Some version or another of badminton has been played since the days of Ancient Greece. Back then, it was called either battledore or shuttlecock, both of which are actually still played today. The game started to become popular in the late 19th century. People of the lower classes had been playing some game that involved hitting a feathered ball for ages. However, it was the introduction of badminton to India and its subsequent migration back to Britain (who controlled India at the time) that really launched badminton into popular acclaim.

Some army men from India had brought the game of “hit around a feathered ball” ‘back’ to England. At a party hosted by Duke of Beaufort in 1873, the game was first really introduced to the “higher classes.” As with a lot of sports, the sport really took off with such a high placed “backer.” Incidentally, we now call the game badminton because the party hosted by the duke took place at his country estate, called Badminton.

From its introduction in 1873 by the Duke to 1887, badminton was played with more less lax rules. There was no governing association that had established any set rules. That changed in 1887 when the Bath Badminton Club was formed and a set was rules was formally established. The Bath Badminton Club established many of the ground rules and regulations that still govern the game today. In 1895, for whatever reason, the Badminton Association was created and took over governance of the game. Today, the Badminton Association (along with another group formed in 1934, the International Badminton Federation), still governs the game throughout the world.

Badminton spread all over the world very quickly. It was first contested in the Olympics in 1922 (a remarkable feat considering that the game had only had “official rules” for 30 years). People played it in Europe, Asia, Australia… everywhere.

I attribute the game’s popularity to how cheap it is to set up, how easy it is to learn, and how simple it is to set up. With badminton, you need exactly 3 pieces of specialized equipment: a pair of rackets and a shuttlecock/birdie. You don’t need some specialized court, as you would in tennis or ice hockey or the like. The court itself is small, and you can easily create a court for yourself in an alley or on the sidewalk. You can easily fashion your own net too, say, from a clothesline. The rackets and birdies themselves are also really inexpensive. For the sake of comparison, we’ll compare badminton to tennis. High quality rackets in both sports are expensive- two hundred dollars or so. However, low quality badminton rackets are a lot cheaper than low quality tennis rackets. If you walk into Walmart or Target or some other big box store, you’ll probably see some random aluminum tennis rackets for 15, 20 dollars or so. Not too bad (how much do the rackets in your bag cost?). However, for $12, you can buy a 4 player badminton set with 4 rackets and 4 shuttlecocks. That averages out to… under $3 a racket, making badminton 80% cheaper than tennis. That makes badminton a LOT more accessible to people all around the world. A poor family in China can actually afford a badminton set for its children, because that initial investment is probably all it’s going to take. On the flip side, a poor family in China CAN’T afford tennis because the costs will never end. Add into all of this that badminton is inherently easy to learn. No, I’m not saying it’s a easy sport. But comparatively, there needs to be less technique. It takes YEARS of training in tennis to develop a good forehand, a good backhand, volleys, slices, serves, overheads, etc. It takes maybe a week for somebody to be able to serve and play in badminton. Can you go find yourself a pro and request lessons? Sure. However, unlike in many other sports, there’s no real need for professional instruction to be able to play the game (and have a TON of fun!).

This winter, I encourage you to stay active and fit. If the tennis courts are covered with snow, try to get a game of badminton going. You’ll always be moving, you’ll burn a lot more calories than when you’re playing tennis, and you’ll get a great workout. You can set it up in a gym, in a basketball court, wherever. Best of all, it’s really easy to pickup (especially if you’re at least halfway decent at tennis), and it’s cheap to get started. Go out and enjoy!

I highly recommend the Yonex Armortec 600 Badminton Racquet or the Yonex Nanospeed 600 Badminton Racquet as they are both solid and excellent playing racquets.

For strings, I recommend you take a close look at the Yonex BG-80 or the Yonex BG-65 Badminton string. For grips, you can’t beat the quality and value of the Yonex Super Grap 30 Pack Overgrip.

Happy Holidays to all!

Written by TTD Blog Writer Dan


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