Badminton Vs Tennis

Both are racket sports, both are played on a similar looking court with a net in the middle, both are hitting things back and forth. Both have their origins in England and adhere to strict rules of etiquette. It’s common that tennis and badminton often get lumped together. But is it fair? No. Because actually they are very different sports.

Let’s see how much you know.

Which sport is faster?

Which sport do they run more in a single game?

Which sport has more shots per game?

The answer to all three: Badminton.


Yep, you might think that it is impossible for badminton to be a faster sport than tennis. After all, in badminton you hit a light feather birdie and in tennis you hit a heavy ball. Doesn’t the laws of physics just mean that tennis is faster?

Nope. because of the style of hitting. In tennis the ball is heavier, which means it drops quicker. You are even allowed a bounce before hitting it. In badminton you must hit the birdie while in the air. And while it is high in the air, you can do a jump smash, using the full weigh of your body and really get that birdie whizzing. Would you believe it is even faster than a golf ball?

Speed of badminton birdies

Badminton is not just a little faster than tennis, it’s a LOT faster. And while these are comparing the highest speeds ever recorded, the average amateur in badminton will hit the birdie much faster than the average tennis player.

Which sport do they run the most? Both sports it’s hard to tell when just watching the game. Confined to a court it’s hard to see how much an average player runs.

But thanks to sports statistics people have actually measured this out and compared them. An average tennis game is much longer than an average badminton game. A tennis game (best two out of three sets) can last 3 hours. A badminton game (best two out of three games) is a little more than an hour. Badminton is almost two hours shorter.

Yet, in that shorter amount of time a badminton player runs twice as much as a tennis player and hits the birdie also twice as much. So, shorter time, more hits and more running. A badminton player has to be fitter. A game of badminton is much more face paced and high speed. Here are the stats laid out:


Tennis is the clear leader in one category: prize purses. If you win Wimbledon you take home almost 3 million dollars. The All England badminton competition? About half a million all together. The winners bring home a prize on the tens of thousands, not even close to their tennis counterparts. This is a bit of a sore spot in the badminton community. Not just compared to tennis, but basically every sport ever. Pro athletes in other sports can totally support themselves by winning competitions. Top badminton players always need endorsements and other financial support to keep up their game.

So, I’m tired of the comparisons between the two. Players know there is a difference, but most Americans don’t know much about badminton so assume it is basically the same as tennis (only easier). And I know all the tennis players are gonna get mad at this but badminton is clearly the harder, and superior, sport. (Hey, what else did you expect from a Badminton Becky blog post?)


  1. Autumn

    What, no volleyball? Bah!

    1. Becky (Post author)

      Actually my first draft included a sentence where I said that actually badminton is more like volleyball. I swear! But it felt out of place and random so I deleted it.

  2. Autumn

    I am appeased! 🙂

    1. Becky (Post author)

      You can check my youtube history. I watched a volleyball game for a few minutes to make sure that I was right in my assumptions and now it won’t go away and keeps showing up on my “continue watching” feed, haha.

  3. Jennifer Collins

    I love playing badminton! Tough to compare them though – both very different skill sets. The only real similarity is the need to hit an object over a net. It’s a different kind of physicality. You need muscles to play tennis, but speed to play badminton. That tennis balls weigh a lot more than a shuttlecock. Am I right?

    1. Becky (Post author)

      It weighs more yes (so do the rackets) but I don’t think muscles are the key point. It’s more like coordination.

      I think a good way to tell what the sports need is look at the “weakest” players. Tennis is a sport for elderly, children have a very hard time playing because you need coordination to lift the racket and hit the balls. Elderly people not only don’t have muscle but they are also slow. So recreational tennis takes a lot more coordination to play, which is why kids have a hard time with it.

      Meanwhile kids are the weakest demographic in badminton who regularly play. Kids have a ton of energy and speed, just not much coordination. It’s much easier for a kid to swing a light badminton racket and hot a birdie which can go high and slow, then a tennis ball and most eldelry just can’t keep up with the moving and energy of the game.

      So based on that, I think that is the difference between them. Not quite the weight and muscles needed but rather due to the weight of the ball and racket you need more coordination in one and more energy in the other. Of course I just mean playing for fun and not pro’s. Anyway, that’s my own little theory. 😉

  4. Pingback: Badminton The Superior Racquet Sport – THE ARROW

  5. J C Caldeira

    I have coaches and played both sports and you are obviously a massive badminton fan.

    Children can use adapted equipment in tennis. The key factor in both is that badminton is easier to learn than tennis.

    They are both great games and any of the athletes could have played any of the racket sports just as well!!

  6. Howard

    Badminton fan here just wanted to bring up a few things 🙂

    Which sport is faster?
    – Shouldn’t average speed of all shots in a rally be considered? Otherwise, you have just names the fastest recorded initial velocity of a sport, not the fastest sports itself.

    Which sport do they run more in a single game?
    -Tennis wins this one, as elite badminton players hardly ever need to run.

    Also, isn’t your badminton data from the world championship match using the outdated 15 point scoring system?

    1. Becky (Post author)

      To refute a few of your conclusions badminton is faster as the fastest time a tennis ball moves is the serve and the fastest serve is still wayyyy slower than a smash, and in one badminton rally the birdie is often smashed several times, so obviously if you add up all the various speeds throughout a rally badminton will come out on top every time.

      What do you mean elite badminton players never need to run? Certainly elite players have efficient footwork, but their opponents work hard moving them around the court. As you can see from the data slide, an elite badminton players runs TWICE as far in HALF the time as an elite tennis player. So tennis loses this one.

      I checked out the game quoted in this slide and you are right, it is the 15 point system. Which actually makes badminton that much more impressive! If those numbers are only to 15 points (almost. One game went to 18 points, the 2 other games went to 15) then badminton players playing to 21 are covering a lot more distance in the same amount of time. (Pro badminton games still tend to be an hour.)

      Also when I got to meet Jillian Clark she brought up an interesting point. She was a tennis junior champ when she was young and then she changed to badminton and entered many of the eilte competitions including the Olympics (for badminton). I asked her about the difference in the sport (as she was considered a pro player in both) and she said badminton was not only much faster but that it was a 3D game. She said that tennis you run back and forth (staying on the ground so 2D space) and you are allowed a bounce so you don’t have to go as fast. But in badminton you need to use the space side-to-side and up and down. Jumping up and diving to the ground are all regular techniques in badminton and not tennis and she said as a player that made a big difference in the speed of the game (which was something I never though about before she brought it up.)

  7. Tanmay

    You just compared a badminton match with a tennid mstch of old serve and volley,compare it to recent matches just like Australian Open 2012 final,you will then know the stats,or just take a 3 setter between good players of this era

  8. Pingback: is badminton faster than tennis? – QNAFaq

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