Why do we Play this Sport?

When one takes the time to reflect on the sport of badminton, one begins to wonder why he or she is attracted to this sport. Why do people want to play? What draws them to the badminton court?

For many players, the sport of badminton is fun. Many people play the game for enjoyment – just to have a good time. It is fun to play, to face one or two opponents across the net either during a tournament match or just for a club game. What a thrill it is to make the perfect drop shot or to wait until the precise time to hit that timely smash! You display that cunning you have honed for years while on the wrong end of many opponents’ shots. Pay-back time is so sweet!

Many players enjoy the work-out, that process of burning calories, of becoming and staying fit. If you play at a high level of skill, you will enjoy an aerobic exercise and run several miles on the court in a match, particularly in singles. Many players enjoy a good workout and badminton can provide it.

Some players enjoy the social aspect of the sport. They enjoy traveling to tournaments to see who’s there, to renew friendships, and to compare notes. There is often time between matches to catch up with players you haven’t seen in some time. Many players enjoy the weekly camaraderie with their local club players as they play and practice.

Some players earn a feeling of achievement as they participate in this sport. They learn a new shot, defeat an unbeaten opponent, win a certain match. This, too, could be a part of weekly play or drills, or a part of tournament play. Some players spend hours working on certain skills and then use them at the next tournament.

Certain players use this sport as an escape. If you travel to a weekend tournament you can leave your cares behind and escape from the telephone, the daily job, world news—all those things you’re exposed to during the work week. While in college, I used badminton as an escape from studies, and returned on Sunday evenings mentally refreshed. It was a great get-away where I concentrated on something entirely different from the normal routine.

Many players enjoy this sport because they love competition. They love the challenge of facing opponents on the court and besting them in 10 or 15 minutes. They love the “thrill of victory,” although badminton players often lose many more matches than they win. Some players work on a ranking or rating with their play—they enjoy seeing their place in the regional or national rankings improve.

Certain players in other countries and a few in this country play to win money and prestige, and become heroes or heroines. The BWF Super Series now on the international playing calendar offers prize purses in the range of some tennis tournaments, and the final at the end of the year will offer $500,000 in prize purse for the top eight players in each event, much like the Masters final for male and female tennis players. Top elite players in some countries like Indonesia and China have rockstar status!

For all of us who enjoy the sport, we also take the kidding and ribbing that come with participating in a “stealth” sport. Even though badminton is becoming more known in the U.S., it still suffers from that “picnic time” image. But we march to the beat of a different drummer, and we spend much of our time educating the public to the fact that badminton is a legitimate and Olympic sport.

If you have played this sport for some time, you have probably discovered that “zone” where you are warmed up and stretched out, you’ve broken a sweat, all your shots are working, your energy level is boundless, and everything is clicking. It won’t be the first or last match of a practice or tournament but somewhere in between when you are playing in a “bubble.” Top U.S. tennis players like Andy Roddick have talked about this “bubble.” You feel confident, the footwork is there, the shuttle is bigger than life, and you can put it exactly where you want it. If you’ve had that feeling, you know of what I speak. It gives you the thrill to keep playing and searching for that “zone” more often.

What really turns a person on to this sport? Besides all the reasons listed above, when I hear the racquet striking a shuttle, that’s all I need to get the adrenaline pumping. That sound immediately psyches me for play. For others, it may be the feel of the racquet in your hand, the smell of the gym, the thrill of a first match, the opponent looking at you across the net, the squeaking of shoes on the court floor, or putting on your special badminton shoes.

Whatever your reasons for playing, enjoy your time on the court. Having been off the court with an injury at one time, I discovered that there is more to life than badminton, but there is nothing more fun than the sport when you have fallen in love with it. Don’t take your court time for granted, and take care to avoid injury. You are so fortunate to be on the court—don’t waste a minute of your time there. Life goes better with badminton, for sure!