For some of us, swinging a pickleball paddle or a racquet at a moving object with a unique name is nothing new. I mean “pickleball” and “shuttlecock,” who comes up with these?! The weird-named objects make for great sports, and while badminton and pickleball are both racquet/paddle sports, there are several significant differences between the two. Our Paddle Experts break down the two sports to show what makes them similar as well as how they differ. Let's dive in.
Badminton vs. Pickleball Differences
The History of Badminton & Pickleball
First, let’s look at badminton and pickleball from the beginning. Badminton, a much older game, began its journey in the late 1800s with the first-published booklet by a London toy dealer. Pickleball came a century or so later and was first played on Bainbridge Island, off the coast of Washington state. (Although pickleball didn’t really explode in popularity until 2010, give or take a few years.) Badminton and pickleball both started as recreational games, often seen in school gymnasiums around the country, but have since made their way to the main stage. Badminton made its Olympics debut in 1992, and while pickleball has yet to be played under the Olympic Rings, it is played in three major professional leagues and is making its way across the globe. Will we see pickleball in the Olympics in the near future? We sure hope so!
Transitioning from Badminton to Pickleball
So, you are experienced on a badminton court. What can you expect when entering this new pickled sport? Racquet sport players have a leg up on the competition when first starting pickleball, but what skills can you take from badminton to pickleball?
FAST, FAST, and FAST hands. Badminton is a fast-paced sport, and the quick battles on the badminton court will transition naturally to pickleball. Battles at the kitchen line, returning smashes, and always having your pickleball paddle ready for any shot your opponent comes at you with will all feel natural for a badminton player.
Pickleball putaway shots are a combination of shot selection and wrist motion, or the “flick of the wrist.” Badminton players have a natural flick of the wrist motion, typically used for both forehand and backhand shots, making the transition to pickleball very enjoyable. And who doesn’t love a backhand, flick putaway shot?
We’ve all played against those who take big swings at hard-hit balls at their head, but court awareness is something that can make a good pickleball player great. Knowing certain shots are going to be “in” or “out” can make the game much easier for some and will likely be an easy task for former-badminton players. The saying “if it's high let it fly, if it’s low, dink slow” will be nothing new for badminton pros.
Difference In Pace
Often times the hardest part of transitioning to pickleball from other racquet sports is to remember to slow the game down. Players coming to pickleball from other sports can whale away at the ball and have great success, but when the toes are on the kitchen line, and a well-placed dink comes out to play, that is when things become difficult. Unlike many other racquet sports, badminton players often have a unique skill set of dinking and slowing the game down (“resetting”). Players realize they may not win on that exact shot, so instead, a well-placed drop, lob, or dink gets them back into the offensive position.
For a badminton player, one of the biggest adjustments is remembering to let the ball bounce. The shape of a shuttlecock makes it unable to bounce consistently, and because of this, badminton is played out of the air. Pickleball, on the other hand, is played on the ground and in the air. It can be a struggle for us all on the pickleball court, but give yourself some time (hint: sometimes) and let that pickleball bounce.
Difference In Court Size/Dimensions
As you make your way to the top pickleball court, you might find yourself thinking “hey, this court feels similar” and you’d be right…almost! Badminton doubles court is the same size as a pickleball court, but in badminton singles, the lines are slightly more narrow than on a pickleball court. Yes, badminton singles are played on a slightly smaller court than badminton doubles; similar to tennis. Another almost similarity is the amount of space on both sides of the net. In pickleball this is called the “non-volley zone,” otherwise known as “the Kitchen,” in badminton, it is the “service line.” The big difference between these two areas is that the front serve line for badminton is 6.5 feet away from the center net, while the non-volley zone or kitchen for pickleball is 7 feet from the net. Lastly, the feature that may stand out, or in this case, stand up, is the net. A pickleball net is 34 inches high in the middle, whereas badminton nets are 5 feet high. From shuttlecocks to pickleballs, we all love our time on the court, whichever court that may be.
Difference In Equipment
What's the difference between a badminton racquet and a pickleball paddle? A racquet consists of a handled frame with an open hoop that supports a network of tightly stretched strings, while paddles have a solid face rather than a network of strings. A badminton racquet will consist of a long frame, 63'', and a width of 23'' and typically is categorized by the flex of the shaft or the headweight. Pickleball paddles will vary in length, shape, weight, core thickness, face material, grip size, and much more. Want to know the perfect pickleball paddle for you? Leave it to the experts at JustPaddles, where we can find the perfect paddle for your play!
Seeing the differences and similarities between one of the oldest racquet sports (badminton) and one of the newest (pickleball) helps us understand how each has grown over the years. Have you made the transition from a shuttlecock to a pickleball? Let us know what you have noticed between badminton and pickleball! If you are in the process of transitioning from badminton to pickleball, our Paddle Experts are standing by to help answer any questions you may have and would love to help you find the pickleball paddle of your dreams. They can be reached via phone at 866-382-3465, email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can click here to live chat. We're JustPaddles and we'll be here for you from Click To Court!