Most of us used to play badminton as kids but have we ever questioned the position of this sport on the global level? For instance, some organizations say that badminton is the second most popular sport in the world after soccer (football). But is badminton the fastest racket sport?
Badminton has been measured as the fastest racket sport in history with a record serve of 264.3 kilometers per hour by Malaysian player Tan Boon Heong. Here are how other racket sports compare:
- Badminton: 493 kilometers per hour
- Tennis: 264.3 kilometers per hour
- Ping pong: 116 kilometers per hour
- Squash: 283.2 kilometers per hour
Pretty cool, right? Far from being a purely “delicate” sport, badminton is pretty awesome. So let’s dive into some more cool facts you can impress your sports buddies with at your next get-together.
What are the Fastest Racket Sports?
All racket sports have common features in terms of general rules and the progression of the game. Let’s briefly overview the most prominent ones.
Badminton top speed: 493 kilometers per hour
Badminton is a court or lawn game played by two or four players with shuttlecocks and rackets. In professional sports, we recognize single and double badminton that might be only male, female, or mixed. At championships, badminton is usually played on the indoor court due to the sensitivity of the shuttlecock even to a little wind.
One of the main characteristics of badminton is in the structure of the shuttlecock, which is strictly made out of goose left feathers because only this way shuttlecock would rotate clockwise.
The world record for badminton shuttlecock’s speed was made by Malaysian badminton player Tan Boon Heong and it was a whopping 493 km/h.
Tennis is usually an outdoor game that has to be played by single or pairs of players. Scores are rewarded when tennis players fail to return the bouncing ball within the prescribed dimensions of the rectangular court. Originating from French handball and Victorian garden leisure activity, tennis nowadays is played professionally almost in all countries globally.
The rules of Ping Pong, also called table tennis, are pretty similar to lawn tennis. On the divided table, two players attempt to hit a small ball to the opposite side so that the opponent can’t beat it back. Ping Pong is famous worldwide, especially in Asian countries, like China and Japan.
Łukasz Budner, a player from Poland, achieved the fastest ping pong ball speed in 2016. It equaled 116 km/h and was recorded during the championship in the Częstochowa Sports Hall.
Squash is more like racketball, but it’s not racketball. Even so, squash is played on a four-walled court. Two singles or pairs of players have to return the ball with long-strung rackets either before it touches the ground or in its first bound.
Squash differentiates by the intensity of the game. Softball, popular in Britain, is characterized by wide court size and slower pace, while hardball (USA), the opposite, requires a narrow court and fast reactions.
As we can see, racket sports are far from ‘delicate games’ involving pats back and forth. Players have to obtain a sufficient level of determination and accuracy to succeed. Returning to our topic, most people consider tennis the fastest racket sport. What can be a reason? Perhaps, tennis is more popular among the general, not interested in sports public. Let’s sort it out.
Cameron Piley hit the fastest squash shot ever recorded in 2014. The speed of the ball reached the point of 283.2km/h.
Which is Faster: Badminton or Tennis?
Badminton is faster than tennis, as it uses a smaller shuttlecock instead of a ball, and a served birdie can reach speeds much higher than a served tennis ball can. The speeds of volleys can also be high. Both badminton and tennis are skill-based, high-speed racket sports that require years to master.
Tennis is quite similar to badminton in terms of place and number of players. The main difference from badminton is that competitors have to deal with a bouncing ball, not a shuttlecock.
In both sports, tramlines are acting as boundaries and rules according to which players get a score by correctly returning the ball or shuttlecock to the defined territory of the court.
Despite the big amount of similarities, one distinguished difference will put a dot in our question. Not surprisingly, it is regarding a shuttlecock, which can reach much higher speeds than a bouncing ball due to its structure we discussed before. Looking at the physics of both sports and their record speeds, we can confidently conclude that badminton is faster than tennis.
Why is Badminton the Fastest Racket Sport?
Badminton is the fastest racket sport in that it has the fastest recorded speed for a serve. The speeds of normal hits and volleys are not included in these world records.
Now, when we differentiate badminton from tennis, we can compare it with other racket sports mentioned above. The best way to answer the question is to look at the world-famous result in each of them.
- The fastest serve ever recorded by a tennis player took place in South Korea in 2012. Australian player Sam Groth demonstrated a 264.3km/h hit.
- Łukasz Budner, a player from Poland, achieved the fastest ping pong ball speed in 2016. It equaled 116 km/h and was recorded during the championship in the Częstochowa Sports Hall.
- Cameron Piley hit the fastest squash shot ever recorded in 2014. The speed of the ball reached the point of 283.2km/h.
It is all quite impressive, isn’t it? With such speeds, players usually don’t see the moving object but rather predict the hit by an opponent’s position. No wonder why extraordinary stamina and fast reflexes are required in such sports. Now let’s have a look at the badminton world record.
- The world record for the badminton shuttlecock’s speed was made by Malaysian badminton player Tan Boon Heong and equaled 493km/h.
It can be seen from the records made in each of the sports that the speed of the shuttlecock outlasts is almost two times the speed of tennis, ping pong, and squash balls. Needless to say, not all the shuttlecocks can reach that speed. For example, the types sold for non-professionals are made of plastic without goose feathers, thus obtaining higher windage.
Is Badminton the Fastest Game in the World?
Let’s leave behind racket games and analyze badminton records in comparison with all other sports in the world. Which of the first comes to your mind when you think of speed?
- Cars are fast, right? And of all cars, formula 1 cars are super speedy. Indeed, the famous car racing holds a position in the top 5 of fastest sports on our list. The record estimates 372 km/h.
- The next comes skydiving or wingsuit with a record of 396 km/h. It was made by English pilot Travis Mickle in 2017. This sport is considered an extreme one and is relatively new.
- Speed skiing is also considered one of the fastest with a record of 400 km/h. Speed skiers have to ski downhill over a fixed area. They usually wear latex suits and aerodynamic helmets to increase streamlining.
- Finally, the position of fastest sport in the world is held by drag racing. The record equals 539 km/h. This sport is a type of motor racing rooted in illegal street racing.
As can be seen, badminton easily fits between first and third, making it the second-fastest game in the world and first-fastest in the world of racket sports. The secret lies in the construction of the shuttlecock with its left goose feathers and cork.
Now that you know how fast of a game badminton can actually be, let me tell you that it’s not just the pro games that can get dizzyingly fast to watch.
My high school team had a badminton team, and they were pretty good. Unfortunately, I didn’t make the team. But I still practiced with them from time to time, as I was softball friends with most of the other players.
I could watch the birdie while practicing with them because I was there on the court. But from the sidelines? I was lucky if I could see where the thing was. I just had to watch for whichever racket was moving.
In any case, now that you’ve enjoyed this article, go check out the article I wrote next: Badminton Alternatives: 13 Other Games You’ll Love. That way, you can have a lot of other fun games when you’re ready to play badminton with your friends and family!
Learning from your own experiences is important, but learning from others is also smart. These are the sources used in this article and our research to be more informed as a family of sports nuts wannabes.
- “Badminton | History, Rules, Equipment, Facts, and Champions.” Encyclopedia Britannica, www.britannica.com/sports/badminton. Accessed 8 Mar. 2022.
- Czermak, Chris. “Men’s and Women’s Fastest Tennis Serves Ever Recorded.” Tennis Creative, 27 Aug. 2021, tenniscreative.com/fastest-tennis-serve.
- Davis, Noah. “How to Hit a Squash Ball Harder Than Anyone Else on Earth.” Speed, 13 Dec. 2016, nymag.com/speed/2016/12/how-to-hit-a-squash-ball-harder-than-anyone-else-on-earth.html.
- “Fastest Table Tennis Hit (Male).” Guinness World Records, 4 June 2016, www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/426620-fastest-table-tennis-hit-male.
- “WHAT IS BADMINTON.” Badminton Oceania, badmintonoceania.org/what-is-badminton. Accessed 8 Mar. 2022.
- Wikipedia contributors. “Badminton.” Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Badminton.
- Wikipedia contributors. “Drag Racing.” Wikipedia, 27 Feb. 2022, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drag_racing.
- Wikipedia contributors. “Speed skiing.” Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_skiing.
- Wikipedia contributors. “Wingsuit Flying.” Wikipedia, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wingsuit_flying.