Tennis vs. Badminton Full Comparison: Which Sport is Better for You?

Fact:

  • Tennis is racket sport recognized worldwide and played professionally in various capacities. 
  • Badminton, on the other hand, is a close relative to tennis that is played indoors by professionals and amateurs alike.

Both racket games are exciting and together have influenced the development of other racket games such as pickleball, a racket game that is believed to be a clone between tennis and badminton played mostly in the US. 

While these games may have various resembling characteristics, they are different games in regards to speed, equipment, and dynamics involved in both games.

Let’s dive in

Tennis vs. Badminton

Roger Federer and Lin Dan, two legends of the two sports. Image sources: shutterstock.com/Neale Cousland and yonex.com

History

The origin of tennis can be traced back to the 12th century. The game was first played in France, and then known as jeu de paume meaning the game of palms in French. The use of rackets in tennis would later emerge in the 16th century when it was renamed to tennis. The game was popular in France and England, mostly played by royalties such as King James of Scotland, Charles Vii and Henry ii. The name tennis comes from a French word "tenez" meaning "take", receive or hold in English. Back then, the game used to be played indoors only, where players used to hit the ball against a wall like squash. Later in 1599, an ancient pro writer called Forbet published the first rules that would be used in professional tennis. This was after King Charles ix officially recognized tennis professionals in 1571 consequently having the first professional tennis tour.

It is believed that badminton, on the other hand, was started in the mid-1800s by a group of British soldiers working in India. Badminton shares some similarities with an ancient game known as battledoor which would be played by only two people using minute rackets. The game was played using a shuttlecock similar to the one used in badminton today, and the game aimed to ensure that the shuttlecock didn’t hit the ground.

Nearly 2000 years ago, a game called shuttlecocks was introduced in ancient Greece. It eventually became popular and spread to other countries such as Siam and China. It was when it landed in India that it changed the name to ball badminton and a net was introduced in between the players. Both shuttlecock and battledoor had the same characteristics with ball badminton in regards to the basic rules and intention of the game. The difference between the three games was the balls used in each game. Like tennis, ball badminton was played by royalties in India, but then they didn’t use a shuttlecock but rather a yellow ball made from wool. In this era, this is when the first court dimensions were discussed and implemented. The idea of having a net in the middle was also acquired from the previous similar sports.

People believe that the name badminton came from badminton house, which the Duke of Beaufort owned. Badminton would later in 1877 reach England where players used the established rules by the British soldiers in India. The rules would be revised a couple of times to settle for what we have today.

Basic Rules

The basic rules of both games are similar to the objective of the two games. In tennis, the aim is to ensure that the ball does not bounce twice on your court. In this case, you are required to keep playing the ball until you or your opponent is unable to return the ball. You should also make sure that all your returns go past the 3 m net in the middle of a tennis court.

In badminton, in place of the ball, you hit a shuttlecock to ensure it doesn’t land on your court or out of play from your service. In short, you should control the shuttlecock, using various skills to ensure that it doesn’t go out of play when returning a serve or serving. Like in tennis, you should always ensure that it goes over the net and lands on your opponent’s court.

Equipment (Racket, Shoes, Ball/Shuttlecock)

Both badminton and tennis players use rackets. However, the rackets are uniquely specific to each sport. Tennis rackets will be larger and approximately three times heavier than their badminton counterparts. They are uniquely designed to stabilize the head of the racket to make the sweet spot bigger. On the other hand, the badminton rackets come with a straight shaft and a lollipop design. There is also a difference between the string tension of the two rackets.

While tennis players use a hollow rubber ball covered with fabric, badminton players use a shuttlecock which is made of 16 overlapping feathers joined together by a round cork at the bottom. Shuttlecocks are generally ten times lighter than tennis balls. When a shuttlecock is hit, it does not follow the typical path that a regular ball would follow since the feathers are much lighter than the cork base.

When it comes to shoes, what you need to consider is the difference between how the two racket sports are played. For instance, tennis features a lot of abrupt stops and running which means that the best tennis shoes should be designed for these kinds of activities. On the other hand, badminton features a lot of lunges and jumps which means that you would look for shoes designed to handle these types of activities.

Courts

When it comes to courts, the two racket sports have completely different courts. A badminton court is half the width and length of a tennis court. However, the courts look similar from a distance and are marked nearly the same. In professional badminton, it is discouraged to have one court serving as doubles and singles court. It is believed that it creates confusion for new players. However, in tennis, the court can be used for both singles and doubles. Apart from the size of the courts, the surface is also different and the height of the net. In badminton, the net is supposed to be 1.55 m high while in tennis it’s nearly double the height at 3 m high.

Badminton courts usually are indoors to avoid wind interference during a game as the shuttlecock is very light. On the other hand, tennis courts can be outdoors or indoors. There are four main types of surfaces which are grass, clay, hard and carpet courts. The international tennis Federation is championing for smaller courts designed to encourage tennis playing at a younger age. The smaller courts use slower balls as well compared to the regular courts.

Players

In both sports, anyone able to hold a racket can play. However, in competitive badminton, you can only compete in the five categories available which are men’s doubles, men’s singles, women’s singles, mixed doubles and women doubles. In tennis, these categories are available plus a few more involving three players and players in wheelchairs.

When it comes to three players, there are various versions of the sport which include American doubles/Australian doubles, Canadian doubles, and Jordache tennis. In Canadian doubles, a single player goes against two players. To make it fair for both teams, the single player hits the ball against a doubles court while the two players hit the ball against a singles court. The Australian doubles/American doubles use the same rules of the Canadian doubles but allow for the players to alternate so that all players play singles and doubles through the game. However, in this game the single player always serves. In Jordache, there are still three players in the game but only two players at a time. In this regard, the first two players go against each other and are awarded points. It’s a points game where the winner has to get to 50 points first. Nevertheless, there is a variation of the game called mini Jordache which requires a player to reach only 25 points first to win the game.

In wheelchair tennis, the players are required to be in wheelchairs, and the rules are modified a bit to accommodate the speed of the wheelchairs. In this regard, the ball can bounce twice on a player’s court before returning it even if it goes out of play.

Serving

Badminton players have little advantage over their opponents when serving, unlike tennis where professional athletes are expected to capitalize on their serves. It’s highly unlikely for a player to win an ace in badminton partially because you are supposed to hit the shuttlecock with the racket pointing downwards and below your waist. Serving in professional badminton is similar to tennis except that both players should be on their service courts during the serve. In badminton, however, the player serving should ensure that the shuttlecock goes beyond the service line on the opponent’s court.

Tennis Serve vs. Badminton Serve

Rafael Nadal serve and a Badminton serve. Image sources: badminton-coach.co.uk and dearsportsfan.com

Scoring

In professional badminton, the player who reaches 21 points first in a best of three match wins. To score a point, the shuttlecock has to touch the ground marking the end of a rally. You can as well earn a point when your opponent is unable to get the shuttlecock past the net or sends it out of the marked play area.

On the other hand, a tennis game consists of five best of three sets where each set has six games. The motive is to win four points or two consecutive points to win the game. As mentioned earlier, the tennis ball is supposed to bounce on your court only once. In this regard, if you are unable to return the ball on time and it bounces twice, the opponent earns a point. You can also receive a point just like in badminton when the opponent hits the ball out of the designated area of play, is unable to return the ball past the net or double faults during a serve.

Referee

In professional badminton, there are a couple of officials who assist the main referee such as the Line judge and umpire. However, the buck stops with the official referee. In other words, the two officials support the chief referee and report to him, but his decision is final. A senior referee in a badminton game is responsible for everything that happens in a tournament on the court and off the court. The referees need to be certified to officiate a game.

In tennis, the main referee’s decision is final just like any other game. Just like in badminton, is responsible for all aspects of the game including the conduct of the coaches, spectators, and players on the court and off the court. However, he has a chief umpire who sits on a high chair on the side of the court. The chief referee must delegate duties to other refs.

Conclusion

Tennis and badminton are both exciting racket games which have numerous health benefits and are played at various levels. These two games are very distinct even though they borrow a few characteristics from each other such as the basic rules. The debate on which is the better game is still ongoing and might not end soon if different aspects of the two sports are to be considered such as skill sets required for both racket sports.

Peter S. Harper
 

I am Peter, a 39-year-old friendly being from the United States. I love playing a lot of sports such as tennis, table tennis, volleyball, softball, and badminton... I have created this blog to help you find information on different types of sports equipment and finding the right one to enhance your skills at the game.

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