Earlier this month, I took a late season break from tennis in order to recharge my batteries and heal some nagging little aches and pains.
While I was off, long-time Racquet Network member, Dragan Lemez, talked me into spending some time trying out the new game of speed badminton (a.k.a. speedminton).
Since the game is played on grass over an area that is about one-quarter the size of a tennis court and since both the racquet and the speeder (shuttle) are lighter than a tennis racquet and ball, I was able to play speed badminton without aggravating the injuries that I was trying to heal during my break from tennis.
What a blast! Speed badminton is a great game with a ton of competitive potential.
Unlike other face-to-face racquet sports, there is no net in speed badminton. The playing area consists of two 18 foot by 18 foot squares set 42 feet apart.
Players must hit their speeder into their opponent’s square and prevent it from touching the ground in their own square. Points are scored whenever the speeder touches the ground.
The speed badminton racquet looks like a cross between a squash racquet and a racquetball racquet. However, it’s nearly as light as a standard badminton racquet.
The speeder looks like a miniaturized badminton shuttle tipped with a red rubber ball. It’s heavier of course, in order to allow more control and speed in typically breezy outdoor conditions. But other than that, it behaves pretty much like a standard badminton shuttle.
The game itself is reasonably fast paced. It’s not as technical as tennis nor is it as physically demanding. The fact that it is played on grass makes it much easier on the knees than hard court tennis.
The absence of a net results in many hard shots at knee level or lower that are similar to drives in squash and racquetball. As a result speed badminton incorporates more squatting and lunging than singles badminton.
Another major difference is the absence of net shots and drop shots. Without a net, of course, these standard badminton shots are not part of the speed badminton game.
In their place are deep, penetrating smashes to the back court and low, hard drives that are aimed for the front corners of an opponent’s square. These shots, combined with high clears and typical badminton defensive shots ensure that both players keep moving and keep sweating.
The only thing I didn’t like about speed badminton was the scoring system. The first time we played, we use the official scoring system: each player serves three times in succession, then the serve changes hands. The winner was the first player to 16.
The problem that we found with the official scoring system was that the games could become one-sided and uninteresting. It was especially frustrating for a player who had a bad run and found himself down by eight or nine points with the wind in his face.
It also seemed to us that the scoring system was created for indoor conditions under which neither sun nor wind are factors for either player.
We corrected this problem and made it a much more interesting game by adopting tennis scoring to speed badminton.
Each game was played to four points with the winner clear by two points. The first player to win 6 games — again clear by two — won the set. In the event of a six-all tie, we played a standard tennis tie breaker to seven points, clear by two. We also applied tennis rules to side changes.
The result was amazing. Difficulties with wind and sun were more evenly shared thanks to frequent side changes. The games were shorter and more intense with each player trying harder on every shot.
Like tennis, we found that the server won most of his service games. But unlike tennis, we were able to play a best-of-five set in just over one hour. In fact, we had enough energy left over at the end of the match to play another best-of-three match.
The only thing that prevented us from playing longer was the setting of the sun. Sadly, I did not have any of the specially designed glow-in-the-dark night speeders with me that week.