Are you curious about the world of racket sports, but can’t decide between badminton vs. tennis?
Both of these sports involve fast-paced rallies, spectacular shots, and plenty of intensity — but if you’re trying to choose one to play or watch, there are some key differences to know about.
Read on to discover a complete guide on badminton vs. tennis, including the equipment differences, scoring rules, difficulty, and more.
Before diving into gameplay and rules, let’s take a look at the differences between the equipment in tennis vs. badminton:
- Rackets: Badminton rackets are on the smaller and lighter side, typically weighing around 70 to 90 grams. In contrast, tennis rackets can fall anywhere between 280 to 310 grams.
- Tennis ball vs. shuttlecock: Tennis balls bounce and hold a more “even speed” after being hit, while badminton shuttles can move at an explosively fast rate. However, a major difference is that shuttles have a high drag, meaning they slow down more quickly.
Court and Net Sizing
Badminton courts are usually indoors and are a bit smaller than tennis courts. For reference, the dimensions are:
- 44-by-20 feet (13.4-by-6.1 meters) in badminton doubles
- 44-by-17 feet (13.4-by-5.18 meters) in badminton singles
- 78-by-36 feet (23.8-by-11 meters) in tennis doubles
- 78-by-27 feet (23.8-by-8.2 meters) in tennis singles
Badminton also uses a slightly higher net at 5 feet (1.524 meters) tall, while a tennis net is 3 feet (0.9 meters) tall at the center of the court.
Badminton Vs. Tennis: Scoring and Rules
When it comes to the rules, one core difference is that badminton players must hit the shuttle out of the air, never allowing it to touch the ground. Tennis players, on the other hand, can volley the ball out of the air or hit it after one bounce.
Aside from that, gameplay can look relatively similar — although there are specific sets of rules that are unique to each sport. (Check out BWF’s official badminton rules and USTA’s tennis rules page to learn more.)
So, what about the scoring?
In badminton, matches are made of three games that go up to 21 points each. To win the game, one side must reach 21 with a two-point lead. If a team reaches 21 with only a one-point difference, the game continues until a side either gains a two-point lead or reaches a score of 30.
As for tennis, the scoring can be a little more complicated and less intuitive. Each game goes up to four points, and the first side to win six games with a two-game lead wins the set.
But instead of going point-by-point during games, the scoring looks like this:
- Zero points = Love
- One point = 15
- Two points = 30
- Three points = 40
- Tie = All
- 40-40 = Deuce. When you and your opponent reach a deuce (aka tie at three points each), one team will have to gain a two-point lead to win.
Strokes, Shots, and Other Techniques
When it comes to actually hitting the ball or bird, badminton and tennis use a variety of different techniques.
For a quick rundown on each, here are some of the main shots to know about:
Tennis shots involve lots of wrist strength and arm power, on top of knowing how to spin and slice the ball. Some of the main shots in tennis are:
- Forehand and backhand topspin shots
- Slice shots
- Flat shots
- Slice, kick, and flat serves
- Lob shots
Badminton shots require less sheer power and lean more on technique and strategy. Some of the most notable shot types in badminton include:
- Forehand, backhand, and half smashes
- High, low, and flick serves
- Drop shots
- Deception shots
No matter which sport you’re playing, footwork helps you get to the ball (or shuttle) fast enough to deliver a powerful shot.
In both sports, your footwork will involve a ready position, split step, and shuffle step. But badminton tends to use more lunging and jumping, while tennis involves more sliding and side-to-side movement.
Is Badminton or Tennis Harder?
“Is badminton or tennis harder?” is one of the most highly-debated questions among racket sports fans. And while it’s true that beginners often find badminton easier to play than tennis, this doesn’t always paint the whole picture.
When it comes to the toughness of each sport, here are a few main elements to consider:
Endurance and Cardio
Whether you play badminton or tennis, you’re guaranteed to get your heart racing and break a sweat. That being said, badminton tends to require more stamina at peak performance, since the rallies are so fast-paced and packed into tighter court spaces.
Tennis matches, however, can last an extremely long time, and players will need to have solid endurance to play their best in every game.
Badminton uses more jumping, lunging, twisting, and turning — which means it’s slightly more core and leg-focused. On the other hand, tennis involves lots of running and tremendous upper-body strength.
At a high level, badminton and tennis players will both need to have a solid grasp on advanced shot mechanics. And in both sports, you’ll need to use strategy, accuracy, and quick reaction time to win points.
At the same time, there are some critical ways that shots differ in these two sports. For example, badminton shots involve more wrist movement, deception, and changes of pace. Conversely, tennis shots use lots of spinning, slicing, and other techniques to control the ball.
The Bottom Line on Badminton Vs. Tennis
Ultimately, badminton and tennis have plenty of similarities and differences, and there’s no clear “winner” between the two. Instead, it’s all up to what you prefer — whether you enjoy the strategic, rapid pace of a badminton match or the high-power challenge of tennis.
And if you’re still not sure which one to play, don’t worry. Simply swing by your local tennis and badminton courts with a friend, and give both games a try.
After a few rounds, you’ll get a feel for which sport suits your strengths and brings you the most energy, excitement, and motivation to keep playing. Good luck!