7 tips for badminton beginners

Why did badminton land at number 21 on the ParticipACTION 150 Play List? Because that’s the number of points it takes to win a badminton game. Similar to other racquet sports such as tennis (number 56), squash (number 67) and pickleball (number 44), badminton is a fast-moving activity that requires agility, endurance and quick reflexes.

You probably already know that badminton is played over a net with a racquet and a birdie, also known as a shuttlecock. But did you know that the original design of the shuttlecock was a piece of cork (“shuttle”) with feathers from a rooster (“cock”) stuck randomly into it? The players soon realized that arranging the feathers into a circular pattern created a better flight path that resembled a bird’s.

Today, shuttlecocks are made from a rounded cork base covered in thin leather, plus feathers from a goose or duck. Birdies with plastic “skirts” instead of real feathers are more practical for gym class.

In high-level competition, a shuttlecock’s speed has been recorded at over 260 kilometres per hour. If you want to get in on the action, here are some beginner tips from Badminton Canada:

  1. Nets are optional. Sometimes a pair of racquets, a shuttlecock and an open space are all you need. Grab a partner and see how long you can hit it back and forth without the birdie touching the ground.
  2. Generate strength from your racquet leg as you step into your shot. This will help you hit with more power and consistency.
  3. Hold the racquet tightly – but not too tightly. Allow your wrist to bend and adapt to the shot coming your way.
  4. Move your feet. Rather than alternating from your forehand to backhand, move your feet to get under the birdie. After you hit it, hustle back to the centre of the court to get ready for the next one.
  5. Always begin the serve below your waist. Try a strategic serve that just barely gets over the net, or a long one that forces your opponent to the back of the court.
  6. Traditional matches are to 21 points and a best of three games. A point is awarded every rally, but you have to win by two points.
  7. Get some friends and try a doubles match with men’s, women’s or mixed teams. No matter the outcome, be a good sport. Sure, winning is fun – but having a good time with your friends is even better.