Nothing screams summer quite like firing up that grill. Keep in mind, though, those juicy steaks and grilled sausages is just “Part I” of throwing an awesome outdoor party. If you really want to crush your hosting duties, you need to keep your guests on their toes, preferably when the post-meal slump is about to kick in. And what better way to do so than by setting up your own badminton mini-tournament?
Chances are that this Olympic game has made you cheer in front of the TV more than a few times. Now, imagine all this excitement and enthusiasm taking over as you and your guests struggle to land your shuttles over to the other side of the net. It’s simply contagious. Plus, moving up and down will help you break a slight sweat to get you (at least a bit) back on track after “sweeping” the buffet. So, ready, set, strike!
What You Need to Play Badminton
Known as the fastest racquet game in the world, badminton is second to none in the outdoor game department. Being the Olympic sport that it is, this game requires a set of specially designed tools which are (luckily) easy to find. From the feather-like “balls” to the racquets with the long shaft, there’s nothing ordinary about this game. Design aside, it’s also worth mentioning that badminton equipment is super light and easy to carry around. So, even kids can give it a try.
However, if you’re not in the mood to run up and down chasing the shuttle, you’d better sit this one out. Badminton is an outdoor game that calls for physical engagement which can vary from an “OK, I’ll go get it, but no running” attitude to a “sweating-it-to-the-bone” mood, depending on the players’ physical status. Either way, it’ll get you moving. So, make your choices accordingly. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 2 or 4 players. Much like tennis, badminton can be played in singles or doubles. So, you can either choose to play solo or join forces with a friend or family member. When played in teams, though, each player must stick to his/her side of the court.
- 2 or 4 racquets. Badminton racquets are specially designed to fit the needs of the game. With this in mind, a high-quality badminton racquet should weigh about 4-5 ounces (including the grip), have a long, thin shaft and feature an oval or isometric head shape. The unique structure of the racquet allows players to take full control of the hard-to-handle shutters.
- A net. According to the official rules of the game, the badminton net should be 5 feet high in the center and 5 feet and 1 inch on the edges. However, when it comes to the backyard edition, bending this rule is somewhat necessary if you want it to adjust to the yard’s size. Just place the net in the middle of the rectangular court, support it using poles on both sides, and you’re ready to go.
- 2-3 shuttles. Also known as shuttlecocks or birdies, shuttles are the special “balls” used to play badminton. These projectiles have an open conical shape which comprises of 16 plastic feathers that overlap each another.
What’s more, these feathers are embedded into a rounded cork base which serves as a weight to move the shuttle back and forth. Even though the original version calls for real feathers, we advise every recreational player against that since they are easy to break.
The Basic Rules of Badminton
Rules are rules. And when it comes to badminton and the great outdoors, things can turn from great to awful in a matter of seconds if you don’t play by them. So, to avoid creating a mess and keep things running smoothly, here are the basic rules of badminton you need to swear by.
- Step 1
Prepare the court. According to the official badminton rules, the ideal court is 44 feet long and 22 feet wide. However, not every backyard can support these directions. So, do your best with what you have. Calculate the size of the space available and divide it in half. Also, make sure you mark the sides and corners.
- Step 2
Set up the equipment. Plant two poles on both sides halfway across the court. These poles could be anything from a baseball bat to specially designed wooden stakes. They are used to support the net from one side of the court to the next. Just make sure you place the poles on the ground as firmly as possible to avoid trampling the net with a sharp hit. Also, the net should be pulled tight, not slack.
- Step 3
Decide which team will serve first. There are a lot of ways to determine which side will make the first move, from tossing a coin to playing a round of rock-paper-scissors. Another interesting way to
- Step 4
Understand the court. Similar to tennis, each side of the badminton court has a right and left service court. For your shot to count, you need to always serve from one service court to the one diagonally from it. When you’re playing with a partner, each of you takes one service court (either right or left) and sticks to it.
Whether you’re playing in singles or doubles, you must serve from the right side of the court when you have an even number of points (say 2, 4, 6, etc.) and from the left side when you have an odd number of points (for example 3, 5, 7, etc.)
- Step 5
Serve taking turns and count the score. You must serve in an attempt to force your opponent to commit a fault (check below). If the serving side gets a fault, then the other team earns a point and the right to serve next. However, if the serving team hits the shuttle across the net and the opposing side commits a fault, then the person who served moves from one service court to the other and serves again. Each serve counts as one point.
- Step 6
The player or team that scores 21 points first wins. You and your opponent need to keep serving until one of you scores 21 points first. However, note that the winner needs to have at least two points more than the opponent to claim the victory. For example, if you AND your opponent have 20 points each, then you need to keep scoring until you have a two-point lead to win (22-24, 23-25, etc.). If the game goes on like this for a while, then the first to score 30 points wins, no matter what.
The Not-so-Basic Rule of Badminton
Now that you’ve got the basic rules of badminton out of the way, why not try something more advanced? These out-of-the-box tweaks not only add character to your otherwise mainstream badminton matches but they can also change the course of the game if implemented wisely. So, do you want to spice things up?
Get a let. When you serve, and the shuttle hits the net but falls over on the opponent’s side of the court, you get a let. That basically means you get to have another try. This way of dealing with weak shots is not usually allowed in badminton since players get only one try on each serve.
5 Actions That Count as a Fault
Learning the ropes of a new outdoor game is always the best part. You end up making a bunch of mistakes which usually look quite goofy. But, a game is a game, and your total score is the one to pay the price. To avoid making more in the future and perhaps risking losing the game, we’ve gathered around the X most common “faults” in badminton. After all, knowledge is power.
- Hitting the shuttle into or under the net.
- Hitting the shuttle out of bounds.
- Hitting an opponent with the shuttle.
- Hitting the shuttle on the ground on your side of the court.
- Failing to hit the shuttle over the net.
4 Tricks to Always Hit the Shuttle Like a Pro
Although it may seem simple enough, hitting the shuttle correctly and getting it to land on the opponent’s side of the court is not that easy. That’s why players have discovered various tricks to gain complete control of the wind-susceptible “birdie” and score points more easily. If you want to get the upper hand and look like a pro at the next badminton game, then these four tricks are all you need.
- Hit the Shuttle at the Top of its Arc
As you may have noticed, the cork base is responsible for the gravity that pulls the shuttle down, creating arc-like shots. As the shuttle reaches its maximum height and is ready to head toward the ground, make a hit for it. This way you avoid missing the shot before gravity takes over and messes with your shot.
- Go for a Drop Shot
Hitting the shuttle with slow, gentle moves makes it fall just over the net, making it impossible for your opponent to strike back. That’s an easy point right there.
- Master the Various Types of Serve
Despite what you may think, tossing the shuttle in the air and hitting it with your racquet is just one way to serve. Pros actually note that there are three efficient ways to serve which depend on a player’s skills. These include the high and the low forehand serves.
The high serve calls for somewhat tricky moves which can be even trickier for doubles. During a high serve, you should plant your non-racket leg in the front while leaving the racket leg behind. As the position of your legs creates some sort of resistance, swing the racquet back and align it with your shoulder. Meanwhile, hold the shuttle by the feathers, drop it in front of you and hit the shuttle by swinging the racquet slightly forward. You shouldn’t hit the shuttle back with much power, or you’ll ruin the shot.
Unlike the high serve, the low forehand serve is highly recommended when playing with a partner. For this serve, you should level the racquet to your waist and bring the shuttle close to it instead of dropping it in the air. Once the shuttle is close enough, swing the racquet forward and direct it toward the opponent’s side of the court. Make sure you hit the shuttle with an upward inclination to avoid hitting the net.
- Change the Direction of the Shuttle
Catching your opponent off guard is also a great way to score some extra points. One of the easiest ways to achieve that is by changing the direction of the shuttle unexpectedly, giving to your opponent little time to react and save the shot.
If you’re looking for an outdoor activity to shake off all the post-BBQ bloating, badminton is the only choice. Unlike other lawn games, this Olympic-slash-backyard game involves a certain level of physical activity which helps you keep your outdoorsy momentum going during a hot summer day. No wonder it’s considered one of America’s most beloved lawn games.