What is Air Badminton? Outdoor Badminton – Redesigned

Published March 12, 2021

Outdoor badminton has been around for centuries.  But we know that in today’s competitive badminton world, the game is played indoors.  Why?  To avoid issues from wind and weather. But outdoor badminton has gotten an upgrade.  What is Air Badminton? Air Badminton is outdoor badminton played with an altered set of rules and a carefully designed shuttlecock.  Let’s take a look at this exciting new game for badminton enthusiasts!

The Story Behind Air Badminton

Outdoor badminton has always been a fun and recreational activity for newcomers and professionals alike.  Countless Americans have memories of playing badminton at backyard picnics or on the beach.  But Air Badminton is different. 

Air Badminton is a joint venture five years in the making between BWF and Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC).  The goal is to allow a greater number of people to have a positive experience with the sport on outdoor courts, grass, or sand.  Expert engineering went into designing a specialized outdoor shuttlecock that is more durable and wind-resistant than the birdies lobbed in competitive indoor badminton.  

The idea began moving forward all the way back in 2013. The sport was unveiled at a fancy ceremony in the spring of 2019 in China. Some big names were present at this global promotion event.

What is the AirShuttle?

The AirShuttle is a feat of human engineering. It was carefully designed after methodical research from the Institute of Sports Research at Nanyang Technological University. Over 30 different prototypes were developed and underwent strict quality control testing over an almost 3 year period. You can clearly see the difference in aerodynamics when comparing the perfected AirShuttle to a typical synthetic shuttlecock used for indoor competition.

This new AirShuttle is designed to be resistant to wind force up to 12 km/h. It can be rallied with typical badminton rackets, but it’s recommended shuttlers lower string tension and use a slightly thicker string for the best experience. The Victor AS Airshuttle Outdoor Shuttlecock was released to the global market in March of 2020 – and then COVID shut down the world.

What are the Air Badminton rules? How is it different from the traditional sport we know and love?

There are a few ways to score points in Air Badminton.  The aim of the game is to:

  • Force your opponent to hit the AirShuttle out of the valid playing area
  • Hit your opponent’s body with the AirShuttle (A bit of Dodge-Shuttle anyone?)
  • Force your opponent to hit the AirShuttle directly into the net
  • Have the Airshuttle land in the playable area of your opponent’s court

Like traditional badminton, Air Badminton can be played with both singles and doubles.  What sets it apart is that Air Badminton can be played as a triples set up, with six players total.  The more the merrier right?  When playing triples, a player may not hit two consecutive returns.  They must allow another player on their team to hit the next return.  This creates a more exciting and fast-paced scenario, where players in a triples situation have to be strategic about their court placement, and quick with their communication and response.

The Air Badminton Court – How is it different?

Air Badminton is designed to be played on hard, grass, or sand surfaces.  Regardless of your playing surface, the dimensions of the court don’t change.  However, the dimensions of the court are different from the dimensions of the traditional badminton court.  There is a 4-meter dead zone in the net area, with 2m on each team’s side where the AirShuttle is considered ‘out’.

This format encourages longer rallies by creating a larger response time.  (It’s really hard to kill the rally with a smash with this dead zone in place.)  When playing doubles or triples, the width of the court is slightly wider than when playing singles. 

There is a service marker on the sidelines exactly 3 meters back from the end of the 2-meter dead zone.  This means all serving must be done 5 meters from the net.  Serving must be done below the height of the net, and in an upward motion, with both of the server’s feet touching the surface of the court.  

One of the most noticeable differences between a traditional badminton court and an Air Badminton court is the absence of the centerline that divides the court into left and right service courts.

Let’s look at the dimensions of the Air Badminton court. Notice it’s slightly longer than the 13.4 meters of the traditional badminton court dimensions.

Net Requirements:

BWF recommends that when playing Air Badminton, the net should be made of dark cord for visibility purposes, with grids separated by 1.5cm-2cm.  The net should be 6m long and between 80cm-1m in height. 

Sand:  Net posts should be 1.5m high, and the top of the net at the center of the court should be 1.45m from the sand.

Grass and Hard Surface:  Net posts should be 1.55m high. 

Scoring

Scoring for Air Badminton is where some significant differences appear.  The first player to 11 points wins, and a series consists of ‘best of five’.

When the first player gets to 6 points, players will switch sides of the net, also called ‘switching ends’.  Players will switch ends again at the end of every game. The player who wins will get to serve first in the next game.

 If there is a tie of 10 points each, the first player to gain a two-point lead will win.  If the score becomes tied at 12 points on both sides, the first player to score their 13th point will be declared the winner.

Where can I play Air Badminton?

Air Badminton is an outdoor sport, meant to be played anywhere a net and boundaries can be erected effectively.  Parks, gardens, yards, beaches, and outdoor court surfaces are all perfect locations.  The purpose of the game is to expand the availability of the game, thus effectively increasing its participants.  Creating a world where people become invested in the exciting format of Air Badminton will inevitably increase interest in the sport of badminton at a professional level. 

Athletes in North America know better than most how important it is to increase awareness and interest in the game of badminton.  Our constant struggle to self-fund makes us fans of any efforts made by the BWF to bring interest and enthusiasm behind badminton. 

An added bonus:  Data collected indicates that Air Badminton provides all of the same health benefits as traditional badminton – plus sunshine!

Fun Fact:  The net height for Air Badminton played on a sand surface is .05m lower than other surfaces because players sink in the sand.  Data collected during the prototyping of the game and the AirShuttle showed that lowering the net just that small amount decreased the number of errors and significantly increased the length of rallies.

If you find yourself getting serious about Air Badminton in the sand, check out some of our sand footwork training videos over at our YouTube and Instagram Channels.

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