Tennis vs badminton
Two popular racket sports, but two very different sports - find out more about the similarities and differences between tennis and badminton.
What are the differences between tennis and badminton courts?
While they are both a similar shape, a badminton court is 13.1m x 6.1m, around one-and-a-half times smaller than a tennis court 23.77m x 10.97m.
Tennis courts can come with a variety of different surfaces – such as hard, grass and clay courts – while badminton courts are usually only laid on a wooden floor with synthetic mats or a porous asphalt. Badminton courts are designed to only be indoors, whereas tennis courts can be inside or out.
The lines on the courts have a lot of similarities. Both have tramlines on either side of the court, with the inner side-line marking the width of a singles court and the outer side-line, the width of the doubles court. They also share a baseline at the back of the court and service lines through the middle creating boxes, where you need to aim your serve.
What are the different types of equipment for tennis and badminton?
Badminton rackets are much lighter than tennis rackets, to help increase racket speed. The shape of the head is also different – badminton rackets are much smaller and are more circular, while tennis rackets are slightly oval. Unlike tennis rackets, in badminton you don’t have a throat on the racket and the shaft is much longer to give you more flexibility.
In tennis you play with a ball, while in badminton, you use a shuttlecock. The shuttlecock is a conical shape formed of feathers or a synthetic plastic, with a corked end.
The shoes for both sports share some similarities, but badminton trainers have less cushioning and have non-marking soles.
Tennis trainers can have more variables depending on the surface you’re playing on - however, for most courts and recreational play, you’ll want to stick to something with a sturdy outer sole that gives you some cushioning, so you feel comfortable.
What are the rule differences between tennis and badminton?
The biggest rule difference between tennis and badminton is the bounce. In tennis, the ball can bounce once (or twice if you’re playing wheelchair tennis) on your side of the court before you must return it, but in badminton, the shuttlecock can’t touch the floor.
Both sports can be played as singles or doubles and you score points in both if you hit an unreturnable shot, or your opponent makes a mistake e.g. hits the ball/shuttlecock out of the court or into the net. In doubles, if you win a point against your opponent’s serve, you become the serving team.
Tennis matches can be scored in several different ways, but the most common is by sets and games. To win one set, you have to win six games and be leading by two clear games.
Similarly, to clinch a game, you must win four points with a two-point advantage. Games are scored as:
- 15 – one point
- 30 – two points
- 40 – three points
If the game goes to 40-40, this is called deuce, but you still need to win by two clear points to win the game.
However, you don’t always have to score when playing tennis, just have fun getting on court and having a hit with your friends and family.
Badminton is scored as a best three or best of five games format. You have to reach 21 points to win a game, but the game can only end if you’ve won by two clear points.
One key difference as well is that you can only win a point in badminton when you are the server. If you win a point when your opponent is serving, the serve transfers over to you.
What are the different shots used in tennis and badminton?
The common shots used in both sports include the drop shot and the smash. The drop shot is when you play the ball or shuttlecock as close to your opponent’s side of the net as possible, while the smash is when you hit it from above head height in a rally.
There are, however, several different key shots in badminton, including the clear, drive and the lift. The clear is a shot where you hit the shuttlecock from one end of the court to the far side on the other side of the net.
A drive is an attacking, powerful shot where the shuttlecock goes just above the net, while the lift is a defensive shot, where you try to hit the shuttlecock as high and far back in the court as you can.
Frequently asked questions
A drop shot, like in tennis, is when you hit the shuttlecock really lightly, so it only just reaches over the net – forcing your opponent to rush towards the net.
Regulation size for a badminton net is 1.55m.