Badminton Game Analysis



Reason for analysis
Because of interest in playing badminton and teaching it, question appeared what actually happens in a badminton game and which basics form the game. Why people play it and how they manage to play came then into question too.

Photo: Bobolink via Compfight cc
What happens in badminton and how do players manage. Women doubles, Canadian Open.

What happens in badminton and how manage players to.

Searching in books and on the Internet, only some remarks and suggestions, and some global ideas could be found on the subject of objective analysis of the badminton game.

Most of the explanations of the game are about techniques and tactics, how to come to results with these. Some are about focusing, or fighting for the points. Also were found global relations between techniques, tactics, condition and concentration, as that players have to focus when playing, or that tactics depend on techniques.
Writers in their descriptions, go quickly to write from within the game when describing for instance tactics, and thus missing an objective framework and reasoning for players and observers for these tactics. Readers of these more detailed parts are thus implicitly assumed to have a framework in thoughts, which will often not be the case.
Other writers take the features that can be seen, like the place on the court of players and the placing of the shuttle. This leads to a superficial idea of the game, whereby reasoning and empathy not are being taken in account. Things stay theoretically and at the outside, and don't come to life.
Not can be understood in these writings above, how players manage to play their game and how they could adapt themselves to the play. Writings merely instruct how to play technically and tactically and not help players to form their play and insight after their own understanding and ideas.
Many descriptions are given without independent thinking and experience of the players taking in account.

The up here mentioned way of writing about the game, does not mean that writers who are players, trainers, coaches and spectators, do never know how people play badminton. Many of them are much experienced players, and know very well what they are doing in the game and how to play it. But very often, they are not able to express these rather unconscious inner knowledges and experiences.

The purpose of this analysis is to clarify what happens in the game and how players manage to play it.

The purpose will be reached by observing the badminton game, and then interpreting what is seen.

Use of this analysis
Building upon a well thought analysis, a better understanding of the game and the players is gained, which leads to a better development of techniques, tactics, physical conditions, and mental attitude. We might be more enjoy the game, to play it with more pleasure and better, and to learn and train the game ourselves and others.

The badminton game in this analysis
In this analysis, the badminton game is the “official” game which is played according to the rules of Badminton World Federation. It is the common game, accepted and played everywhere in the world, by players who are members of clubs and national badminton organizations. In this analysis the game is seen as a means to win a contest, the contest that is the badminton match.

Development to an official match
The article In The Beginning elsewhere on this site, already declares how one develops his play when he or she starts hitting a shuttle to a fellow player on, for instance, the camping ground.
In this situation two people might going to challenge each other and themselves by placing the shuttle and trying to return every difficult shot. Clear rules are lacking.
Thereafter these people might have the want of more regulations to get their play clearer and thus to be able to shift the attention more to the play instead of to each other. People raise a net therefore on the lawn and draw lines, and count points.
The last step then to an "official badminton match" is to play the game on an "official" court in a sports hall or perhaps in a house of village community.

Starting-point of the analysis
On this official badminton court in the writing here-above, begins the more extensive analysis of the game of badminton as hereafter in the section Analysis.

No context and not all the details
Badminton is often played within the context of the environment of the sports hall with its special light, other people playing, the special floor and unknown people with whom is competed. This context influences the game more or less, but will not be involved in this analysis, which is only about the game itself.
Neither will everything be described into all the little details, as we want above all to understand what happens in the game, and why and how it happens.

All about the game itself
This analysis is not a technical declaration of how players should perform their strokes, should play their tactics, or should best build up their condition.
It is all about the game itself, that are the concrete components, the aim within the game and the most important rules, and about the players and how they manage to play the game.

How to come to an analysis
To analyze a badminton match, we first look with an open mind at the court and the playing. We therefore just look at it without thinking about it and without interpreting it and just observing what is going on.
Thereafter, we interpret what we have seen. We ask therefore questions like how and why, reason logically and use common sense and empathy.

Two perspectives on the play
Observing and describing the players playing their game, we see it from outside the court, it is seen and described from a position as a spectator.
A player on the court does not see it in the same way. He finds himself in the middle of the action, stands on the court and moves on it, but does not see himself. A player is not able to see the part of the court behind him either. A player is, mainly, looking at the court and the players in front of him.
A spectator, when looking at a badminton match, gives attention to the players in the first place and to their court and playing in the second place.
And a player gives attention to the court and his play in the first place, and to himself in the second place.
In very short, as an observer we see the player, as a player we see our environment.

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Spectator perspective: looking at the game from outside the court. Chong Wei Lee and Lin Dan, London Olympics 2012

photo spectator perspective

Using perspectives in the interpretation
To observe the game, we use the spectator perspective.
To interpret, we use the spectator perspective to interpret directly what we have seen, like the movements of the players or measures of the court and net.
Seeing the player playing, we use the player perspective to interpret how the player manages to play. We therefore have to use our imagination and empathy. In this way we can understand how a player manages to play a badminton game.
It is clear now that a spectator and a player have very different experiences from the play. But they can use their imagination to use each others perspectives.

Photo: Daniel Gasienica via Compfight cc
Players perspective: looking from inside court. Cathrein.

photo players perspective

This analysis consists of the following parts
After this Introduction with remarks about reason, purpose, means and other remarks, follows under the part Analysis, What we see, the observation in global vision and more detailed. Thereafter comes the part Interpretation with the subpart Introduction with why, what and how to interpret, the subpart Interpretation of Components with a global idea of the meaning of the components for the game, the subpart How players manage to play, with Introduction and the How players manage to play the game.


What we see

Observing a badminton match
We see two or four people facing each other, on a court with a net across at the middle of it, hitting with their rackets a shuttle from their own side of the court, into the others side of the court.
Describing what we see a little more detailed, we can mention the most important elements:
the court, with its lines that border the court and service courts,
the net which stands halfway between the two half courts,
the two or four people with their rackets, who are running and hitting, and getting the shuttle travelled from their half court into the other half court,
the shuttle going on travelling from the one half court into the other half court and back again and again,
the different trajectories given to the shuttle,
the specific shuttle trajectory with its slowing down and then steeper arc,
the new beginning when a fault is made.

What we see is a three-dimensional performance. We see the players standing and moving on and over the court, what is a two-dimensional view of the situation. The shuttle flies through the air and is hit in the space, which is a three-dimensional look at the situation.

The fourth dimension
We automatically take too in account in our observation the fourth dimension of time. Because, we also see the situation changing. Players move constantly in their proceeding situation, and the shuttle starts quickly after a stroke and slows down then, causing a specific shuttle-trajectory.

For the players, within the width of the court the play has a forward orientation from their one half court forward into the other half court. Players are looking forward in the direction of the other half court. The shuttle flies forward into the other half court and comes back from that forward position.



About this interpretation
When we want to learn what is going on in a badminton match, we will, after the observation, interpret what we have seen. That is, we add meaning to what we have seen, we answer why players are behaving on this specific manner on such a court with these materials.
To add meaning,
we can ask ourselves what the meaning of the total play is for players and observers,
we can ask ourselves what the meaning is of the play its elements for this play,
seeing the players playing their game, we can ask ourselves what players have to do to play that game, how do they manage to play a badminton game, and how do they give meaning to the game and its elements.
By giving meaning to the game is meant the meaning to the game itself, in a way players to enable to play well. Not meant is a meaning for the players personally, for instance that they like it or not.

What is interpreted
We interpret the game which has been observed. This game is well regulated by the regulations of the Badminton World Federation. It has the inner goal to achieve unreturnable strokes. It is the means by which the badminton contest can be won.

Photo: Guillaume Capron via Compfight cc
The badminton game. Its components: court, lines, net, players, shuttle. With its forwarded orientation and four dimensional. Played as a match. Its environment: judges, public, space, sphere. On the back Fischer and Pedersen, Denmark. Superseries Paris, 2011.

How is the interpretation done
Thinking rules and aims
In the case of the badminton game, rules have to be followed and a goal has to be achieved.
From what we see happen on court, and then these rules and aim taking in account, we can add meaning to what we see happen.

Rules of the game and the aim of the game
We cannot look inside the heads of the players. Weather they follow rules in their play, we can only assume. The same applies for the pursuit of goals. Nevertheless, we take it for facts that players do follow rules and do trying achieve goals. This is actually so obvious, that we hardly think about these subjects. Rules and aims are simply integrated parts of the game.
An analysis of the game has to go with consciousness of rules and aims as parts of the game.

In this analysis, only the most important rules will be mentioned. These rules are agreed. Internationally, in badminton the same rules apply. Players at clubs everywhere in the world play by these rules.

In any game, the most important rules are in very short:
The main rule is that players have to hit the free flying shuttle over the net by a stroke with the racket.
This contains the more detailed rules that:
the shuttle may touch the net in its flight,
the shuttle may not hit the floor outside the borderlines of the singles court or of the doubles court,
the service stroke has to be played under waist height and the racket downwards, and from one service area cross to the other service area of the other half court,
the shuttle may not touch the floor of the players' own half court,
when one party doesn't bring the shuttle back in a way according to the rules and thus making a fault, the opposite party gets a point and has to play the service,
when 21 points have been achieved (with a difference of 2), or maximal 30, a set is won,
the whole match is won when 2 sets (officially called “games”) have been won.

photo aim: placing the shuttle unreturnable

Aim of the badminton game. Playing the shuttle in such a way that it is unreturnable. Prus, Austria. Champ. universitaire d'europe, Nancy, 2010.
Photo: alainalele via Compfight cc

This analysis only describes the game itself, so goals as amuse oneself, achieve the highest level of badminton play, to learn something from playing, and there are many other goals which may be achieved, are not described here.
Within the game many goals are to be found either. One may think about tiring up the opponents, or speeding up the play. These tactical aims are to be discussed in articles describing tactics.
This analysis of a badminton game only describes the general aim of the game, which is simply to play the shuttle in such a way that it not can brought back by the opposite party according to the rules.
The game hereby is the means by which one can win the match.

The game and the match
The game
In the saying here-above, there is a speaking about the game of badminton, and a speaking about the badminton match.
The game of badminton then is about the playing, that is the keen placing, the tactical ideas according one plays, and in a broader sight, the techniques, physical condition and attention needed to play.
So, when playing a badminton game, the aim during the game is to play the shuttle in such a way that the opposing side is not able to bring back the shuttle.
When succeeding in placing the shuttle in such a way often enough, that is more often than the opposite party, the consequence is the win of the contest and the match.

The match
The badminton match is the contest itself, a contest by means of the badminton game.
The inner aim of the contest is to win the contest.
To win the contest, one has to play the game well.
To win the contest, one has to win two sets (so, “games”). Within such a set one has to win twenty one rallies (or maximal thirty).

All together
To win a badminton match, a set or a rally, one has to play well, better than the opponents, the badminton game.

Meaning of components within the game
Interpreting components, and rules and aim
The court, net, rackets and shuttle have their own meanings for the game. Their meanings are to be seen in the light of the rules and the aim. Players are components of the game too and have also as such their meanings.

Relativising the components
Other sizes of the court, in length or width, a triangle or oval form, would change the game. This same might be said about the net, when it was not the now 1m. 55, but 2m.55 or 1m, or there were two nets. Longer or shorter rackets, a much faster or slower shuttle or instead a soft foam ball, and also more players, would change the game as well.
Other rules would change the game too. Counting by rally points nowadays gives a quicker and more regular progress of the game by counting relentlessly every good point and every mistake too.
Relativising components and rules of the game might cause us looking at the game a little bit in a new way.

Photo: term-inal via Compfight cc
Might the net be higher or the court larger for the game? Relativizing makes more conscious and renewed looking at the game.

photo could the net higher or the court larger? relativizing gives contousness and renewed look at the game.


The components' significances for the game
The court is of such sizes, that the shuttle hardly can be hit out of reach of the opponent. The sizes require a careful reckoning with the borders.
The height of the net makes it more difficult to play quick to the front part of the half courts. It makes low strokes close along the surface of the floor impossible.
The rackets have been adjusted to the shuttle and the sizes of the court, and of course to the players. The sizes and shape of the rackets have been regulated by official rules. These rackets make quick reactions possible, as well as delicate touches and very hard strokes.
The form, weight and construction of the shuttle is regulated by the official badminton body too. These have also been adjusted to the game, that are the sizes of the court, the rackets, the players who have to play with it. Its form and construction make by a hard stroke it having a flight with a quick start, a slowing down, and a more quiet ending. That makes it a flight with a rounded angle. It makes the shuttle possible to be played quick and more horizontal to a place, where it slower falls vertical. That causes more different ways in which the shuttle might be placed anywhere, with more differences in pace, and also more possibilities to hit it back.
The players are components of the game too. Their number, one against one or two against two, and the sex, man or woman, is regulated for the game. Their behavior is regulated too. Players have to play by rules. The aim of the game, striving for unreturnable strokes, is part of the rules. Being components of the game, the players' positions and stances on the court are important, just like their possibilities to hit the shuttle and place it.
The difference for the players as components, of course, is the freedom of positions on the court and the wide range of strokes and placements that are allowed for them. This make them the chess pieces in the game around which everything revolves.

Many relationships exist between the components
Together the components form and let happen the whole game. Additional properties of each component influence the game.
Thinking about influences on the game by additional properties of the components, mentioned might be the shuttle of which the flight is to fast or its brand, unclear lines which cause uncertainty, the kind of racket which influences the strokes, the visibility of the net by its color. And of course the properties of players have to be mentioned with emphasis; players are beginners or top players, men or women, agile or strong, long or short, and all these factors influence the game.
In the play, many relationships exist between the components. Between the length of the court and the height of the net, between shuttle and measures of the court, between racket and shuttle, between the players and other components of the game of course.

Single, doubles and mixed doubles play
In doubles play and mixed doubles play there is the extra relationship between the partners. Partners have to reckon with each others positions and playing possibilities in the game.
Both players or pairs of players who are opponents, influence each others play. Placing of the shuttle and positions on the court are much influenced when a pair is playing against two opponents instead of one player against one.

The orientation of the game
Players have a view on the game and they adjust to that view with their positions and stance on the court and their placing of the shuttle.
Other views exist then this forward orientation.
For instance, roughly, an other view on the game exists of a division of the court in two half courts on which the players move from the middles of their half courts to their four corners. They then play the shuttle to the four corners in the other half court.
According to this analysis, this view is being only a part of the up mentioned forward directed orientation. Missing in this latter view of the four corners is for instance the view of one whole court on which one is playing and the firstly passing over the net of the shuttle and going then further into the half court.
With different views, players take different positions and placements of the shuttle, and look at the game in an other way.

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Playing with control over the whole court. A forward orientation: looking and hitting forward along the width of the court, positions adjusted to that. London Olympics 2012. On the back Lee and Chung from Korea.

photo orientation of the game


When we see an official badminton game, there can be behind it a whole world of court makers, trainers, coaches, organizations, etcetera, which all together make the game possible to happen. All these parties are not dealt with in this analysis.
The play itself which we see happen then is realized by the players. This realization can be understood by declaring why players play it and how they manage to play.
Players' roles in the game as being components of it is globally declared already before.

Observing the game and giving attention to the players, we automatically assume that the players themselves initiated the game and are willing to be the executors too.
Realizing this gives a framework for the occurrence of a badminton game.
So, badminton players are initiators and executors of the game. Playing, they are parts, that is components of their own play. As components of their play, players position themselves well and place the shuttle purposefully.

Understanding playing
Interpreting players' behavior on court, that is interpreting positioning and placing, their game can understood better, as well as what is happening in the game. To understand players, empathy and imagination will be needed.
To understand how the badminton game is realized by players,
we have to interpret why they play and whether their playing-motivations influence the play,
we have to declare how they manage to play the badminton game,
we have to look from their player perspective, thereby using empathy and imagination.

Players are motivated
Interpreting players' role in the game, we assume that they are motivated to play.
Players on a badminton court know why they are playing. If they don't, their playing will not be purposeful.
Players play badminton because of the challenge, in the case of the badminton game the challenge of achieving unreturnable strokes, and they play the game as a match because of the challenge of each other, that is because of social comparison.
Other motivations possible when playing badminton might be to know oneself and to learn how far one can reach personally in life.
Further motivations are the pleasure of playing, and other properties of playing like physical fitness, social contacts, benefits for the future.
Motivations can influence the play of players. Playing when being much motivated for social comparison, will give the play a different form and content than striving after self-realizing, or because of liking the playing itself. The behavior of players then differ and so does their performing of techniques and tactics.
Players, and observers, are not always aware of their motivations that lead to a badminton game.
In this analysis, motivations further are taken for granted. Nevertheless, they are important of course.


Interpreting the playing of badminton players, it might help if we had experienced playing ourselves.

Two alternating roles
Seeing a player executing his role in a game, which is placing the shuttle and positioning himself, and we are interpreting this role, we have to conclude that this player not only executes some rules and ideas. Except executing, a player perceives how his opponent is playing, whether their both shots are coming to effect, and whether he should adjust his play to achieve the goals of play and match, being unreturnable strokes and winning.
So, except execute the play, a player directs his play.
Changing his role as a executer during the play regularly with his role as a director, a player gets control over his performances, that are his techniques and tactics, and over his feelings and thoughts, and over his being present attentively.
Understanding of the presence of both roles as a executer and a director, gives players, and observers too, the insight that choices are made on several levels, and it opens a view on player's possibilities to change his playing and his behavior during play.
Overview, the constantly changing situation, the shuttle
To play his game, a player has to have an overview of the playing situation.
As a spectator, we see the player playing his game on his court from the outside. We have with that easily an overview over the playing with its court, net and players, and its continuously changing situation.
As a player, who is acting and moving right on the court in the middle of the situation, it is more difficult to get an overview over the whole situation, his own playing and the changing of the situation.
Nevertheless, a player has to be conscious of everything that is present and that is happening in the game.
Within the perceiving of the situation, and of the changing within the situation, has the perceiving of the shuttle its place too. One has to discern the shuttle carefully, in the meantime perceiving the situation and its changing.
So, three elements of playing can be distinguished. These are the whole situation, the changing within this situation, and the shuttle that causes changing of the situation. Having sight on the situation and the changing of it, a player can manipulate the shuttle after his insights in the game. This shuttle then is that little chess peace that has to be manipulated throughout the game to come to unreturnable strokes and win the match.
Only being aware of the whole situation, the changing within it and the possibilities of the shuttle, a player can control the game and adjust his position and placing of the shuttle.

Photo: Daniel Gasienica via Compfight cc
Two alternating roles, performing and directing. Shiota and Ogura, Japan, directing during a game. Swiss Open 2008.

photo directing women players

Overview of the situation and imagination
A player playing his game, is perceiving constantly the court, the opponents, himself, his partner, and the shuttle. Thus, the total situation and its changing, even what is going on behind him. How can he or she do so?
Playing his game, beside perceiving the situation, a player forms an image of the situation. He does so consciously or unconsciously, but he has to form this image. Because otherwise he does not know where he is or what he is doing. Anything special though is this not. Anyone does when walking along the street. Walking thoughtlessly, or full of thoughts, could cause strange effects like getting lost.
Now, when playing, the player lays his image over the real situation, so that he can compare both. Thus he can constantly control his image.
So, beside perceiving the situation, a player uses his imagination to get the representation of the situation in mind.
Having this representation of the situation in mind, a player can use his imagination to think at what different flights he might play the shuttle, and to choose the possibility he likes best.
By constantly playing with an open mind the overview and the representation stay complete. Attention then is not just pointed for instance at the shuttle, the own position, or the opposite side. When carefully looking at the shuttle when hitting or when receiving, court and situation stay visible and in mind.

All together
A player has to have an overview of the situation,
And a player has to have an overview of the possibilities for placing the shuttle.
And further has a player to use his imagination to consciously choose the placing of the shuttle and adjusting his position on the court.

The play as a static situation and a dynamic process
We can look at the badminton game as it being a static organization, which makes the dynamic process of the play possible. It gives a framework for playing.
Firstly, we then distinguish the static situation. You see the court, the net, the players, the shuttle. All this make the play possible to be played.
Secondly, you see the players moving and hitting the shuttle, and the shuttle traveling from one half court to the other and back again. This is the process, the dynamic constantly changing situation, made possible by the static situation.
Being aware during play of this static situation, a player has got a restful framework, in which the dynamic of the play takes place.
This restful overview of the static situation gives the player an overview where players are, and where he is himself and his partner.
A player can use his fantasy then to image along which flights he can place the shuttle and along which flights the shuttle could come back. Meanwhile, he adjusts his position and stance on the court.

The action of the player and attention
Two things at the same time
A player has to do two things at the same time. A player who is continuously paying attention to the total play to perceive this well, has at the same time to act constantly to play the shuttle well and adjust his position well. This is like driving a car. One has to perceive the environment carefully, and meanwhile manipulate his car. This is complicated sometimes. But being attentive, one will succeed.

Thinking and playing
A player who perceives the situation well and uses his imagination to see where the shuttle is going, is not automatically preset to react after his insight. A player has to undertake action for that. He has to transform his thoughts, feelings and insights directly into movements without further thinking about it. In fact, he is not thinking at all. Just constantly adjusting his position and stance and his placing of the shuttle as reaction on what he is perceiving.
All together: thinking is doing!

Experiencing the play
The question rises how a badminton player experiences his playing.
We can use for the answer our imagination and empathy, and partly our own playing experiences.
The many aspects that occupy players thoughts could cause a restless mind, and the player not having the constant overview and control over the game.
A badminton player should strive for a peaceful, clear and quiet mind seeing and experiencing what is happening in the game and in himself. The player is able then to control his game.
Players experience a silent and enjoyable orientation on the game and their acting.

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