As a teenager, I played badminton on a regular basis. I enjoyed it immensely and played many tournaments as a singles and doubles player. It’s a great sport to play, and requires quick reactions and fast decision making to become a competitive player.
In this blog post, let’s look at whether tennis or badminton is harder to play, the pros and cons of each sport, as well as some similarities and differences between them.
As you might expect, trying to decide whether tennis or badminton is the harder sport is not an easy question to answer. Some aspects of each sport are more challenging. For example, in terms of endurance and stamina, tennis is arguably harder. Matches can be very long, despite the longer break between points and games. However, in terms of agility and reflexes, badminton is certainly more challenging.
What is tennis?
Tennis is a competitive game where opposing players or pairs of players compete with rackets to hit a ball over a net.
It is generally played on a hard court, although you can also play on clay, grass and carpet courts. It’s usually played outside but there are indoor courts which is useful if you want to play during the winter, or when it’s raining or too windy.
You can play singles, against one opposing player, or doubles, when you play with a partner against two opposing players. Players take turns to serve each game, serving diagonally over the net into the opponents service box.
The scoring system is a bit unusual in tennis. To win a game you have to win a least four points. From zero to three points, the points are known as ‘love’, “15, “30” and “40”. If both players each win three points in a game, the score is 40-40, but the name for this is ‘deuce’. At this point, either player has to win 2 points consecutively to win the game.
The first player to win 6 games wins a set, but they must win be a margin of at least two games e.g. 6-4, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 or 6-0. If both players win six games, the set is decided by a tiebreak, which is won by a player who reaches seven points first, but they also have to win by two clear points. At a score of 6-5, if the player leading in the set wins, the score finishes 7-5. If the other player wins, it’s 6-6 and you have tiebreak.
Matches are usually played as best of three sets. However, for the men’s game, at grandslam events, it’s best of five.
History of tennis
Tennis can actually be traced all the way back to the 12th century. It was originally played in France but the use of rackets wasn’t made popular until the 16th century. While it was only played indoors at first and the players used to hit the ball against the walls, similar to modern-day squash, tennis was officially recognized in 1571 by King Charles IX.
What is badminton?
Badminton is also played by two to four players who use rackets to hit a shuttlecock over a net. A point is lost once the shuttlecock has hit the floor or a fault has been called. Players serve continuously until they lose a point and their serve is broken.
Points can be scored by either player, and the game is played until whoever reaches 21 points first. A match is best of three games.
History of badminton
Badminton was believed to have started in India in the mid-1800s. British soldiers played a game using rackets and tried to keep an object, or a shuttlecock, off of the ground. When badminton reached England in 1877, players used the rules established in India. While these rules have changed and undergone some revisions, they were the framework for the rules used today.
Which sport is harder?
This is tough to answer.
Tennis and badminton are both physically demanding. A tennis court is bigger, but there is more of a break between games and points. Badminton flows a lot more.
However, tennis matches are usually longer, especially in a best of 5 set format at the Grandslam events.
So for endurance and stamina, tennis is probably slightly more challenging. John Isner’s match with Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010, was over 11 hours long!
However, in terms of reflexes and agility, you could definitely argue badminton is tougher. It’s a faster sport so you have less time to react to your opponent’s shot. In tennis, although players can hit with a lot of pace, at least you have time to let the ball bounce before hitting your shot.
Pros of playing tennis
One of the main reasons why tennis is such a popular sport is because players don’t have to invest in a lot of expensive equipment in order to play it. All players need is a racket, a ball, and comfortable shoes that will allow them to run during the match.
Since tennis courts are so common, it’s generally fairly easy for tennis players to find courts in their communities that they can use for free.
Tennis is a social game that allows players to meet up with each other and spend time with family or friends on the court. This is great for an active social life and also helps players keep in good shape.
Disadvantages of playing tennis
One problem that some players run into when playing tennis is that it’s physically demanding. It puts a lot of strain on the body and it is easy for players to injure themselves, especially if they are not in great shape.
While the equipment needed to play tennis is fairly basic and and not that expensive, players may run into financial constraints as they improve their game and want better equipment.
Also, for beginner tennis players, it takes time to learn how to strike the ball properly and actually have a proper rally.
Advantages of playing badminton
Badminton is a great physical activity and has the same social benefits of playing tennis. It’s also known for helping reduce stress and anxiety and improving spatial perception. Players only need rackets and shuttlecocks and can often easily set up nets in their backyards.
While it is a little more difficult to find a badminton court to use, as they’ll always be indoors, players can enjoy playing badminton almost anywhere because they can set up nets at their homes. This is a major advantage as any relatively flat piece of land can be used for badminton without worrying about any bounce.
Badminton is also easy to pick up, and it’s fairly easy to have a proper rally between two players, even at the most basic level.
Cons of playing badminton
Unfortunately, playing badminton does come with some cons. There are a few common medical problems that can occur when people play badminton and these include shoulder pain, knee injury, sprained ankles, and tendinitis.
Playing on an uneven surface can greatly increase the risk of an injury, which is why many badminton players look for professional courts to use, even though they may not be as convenient.
Differences between tennis and badminton
- Badminton uses a shuttlecock, and it is not allowed to hit the ground before being returned to the other side of the net. In tennis, a ball is used and it is allowed to bounce once on either side of the court during a rally
- In badminton, the net is considerably higher than in tennis (1.55m).
- Badminton players can enjoy playing the game on almost any surface as they don’t have to worry about controlling the bounce.
- However, badminton is only really played indoors, because the shuttlecock is so light it can be dramatically affected by even the smallest of breezes!
- In tennis, players serve overarm (although you can legally serve underarm – just ask Nick Kyrgios!). In badminton, players serve underarm.
- A tennis court is roughly twice as long, and twice as wide as a badminton court.
- The action for hitting a shot in badminton uses a lot more of the wrist. In tennis, you really use much more of the whole arm when you swing.
- A badminton racket is a lot lighter than a tennis racket, usually only weighing between 70-95 grams.
- In tennis, the server has two attempts to get their serve in the opponent’s service box. In badminton, you only get one.
Tennis vs badminton statistics
Here are some tennis and badminton statistics:
Which sport is more popular?
According to a 2008 study, Team USA states that approximately 1,362,000 people play badminton regularly in the USA. Tennis is considerably more popular though in the USA with around 18,000,000 players.
Also, the monthly search volume in Google also tends to show that tennis is more popular than badminton.
However, when you look worldwide the picture tells a different story.
According to Real Buzz, badminton is played by a whopping 220,000,000 million players in the world, almost 4x the number of tennis players at 60,000,000. Badminton is particularly popular in Asian countries.
Many people are surprised to learn that badminton is actually a much faster game than tennis. The world record speed for a shuttlecock in a competition is a staggering 426kph. The opponent had a reaction time of just 0.2 seconds to get his racket on the shot.
Tennis courts are roughly twice the size of badminton courts. This means that it is easier to find space for a badminton court and is a common reason why this is a popular backyard game for some families to enjoy together. Just play it on a calm day! The dimensions of a tennis court is 78 feet long by 36 feet wide, and a badminton court is 44 feet long by 20 feet wide.
In general, tennis rackets are around four times heavier than badminton rackets. This means that players need to improve their strength in their arms and shoulders to be able to easily move and handle a tennis racket.
Additionally, badminton shuttles tend to be around 11 times lighter than tennis balls. They don’t require nearly as much force to hit across the court.
Both tennis and badminton rackets need regular maintenance in order to function properly and both the balls and shuttlecocks need to be replaced regularly as the balls will lose pressure and the shuttlecocks will lose their feathers.
The great thing about both badminton and tennis is that any player who can move around the court and is able to hold a racket can play the sport. This makes these sports great for players at home. However, there are limits to who can compete in tennis and badminton if the player wants to play competitively.
Badminton competition only features five categories while tennis features the same five categories as well as a few others, including categories for players in wheelchairs and for three players.
There are probably some benefits for tennis players to also play badminton, particularly for improving overhead shots and feel around the net. However, the action for hitting shots is very different from tennis. Badminton is a lot more in the wrist, and tennis involves the full movement of the arm. It’s probably better to play the sports at different times of the year rather than on the go at the same time i.e. play tennis in the summer months, and badminton when the winter season kicks in. You’re less likely to pick up injuries this way.
Technically you can fit almost 4 badminton courts into the area taken up by a tennis court, but unfortunately it doesn’t measure up enough to do it properly. I’m sure many indoor sports centres would love to offer the public both options within the same court space!