If you decide to get into badminton, don’t buy cheapo rackets. The shuttlecock will get stuck in the webbing.
First in a mini-series about overlooked and underappreciated ways to exercise:
Badminton is an awesome game.
One summer when we were kids, my brother and I for some reason got captivated by Wimbledon. I can’t remember who was playing or who won (mid-‘70s), but it inspired in us a desire to play tennis. The problem was that we didn’t have tennis rackets or a tennis court within walking or biking distance.
What we did have, though, was a badminton set.
It was a bad badminton set. The net was all twisted and tangled, with those spider-webby dust bunnies that breed in garages weaved throughout. The rackets were all bent and limp — and the tape wrapping on the handles had decayed into sticky goo that rubbed off on your fingers.
But we set it up in the backyard and spent hours bashing birdies back and forth. Of course, we were insanely competitive with one another, so we started playing games, keeping score, keeping track of how many games we each had won. We were pretty evenly matched.
Then we went totally nuts and created a tournament called Wimp-ledon (knowing nothing of the sport’s history but figuring badminton was a wimpy second cousin to tennis). We enlisted friends and neighbors, drew up brackets and spent a whole Saturday playing in what turned into a party atmosphere. I won the first tournament. My brother won the next one. And it became regular part of our summers. Now, when our families get together, we still play tournaments.
Most people think of badminton as a game you play half-heartedly at picnics. Go out and plink the birdie around, beer in hand, missing more than hitting, having a few laughs. That’s fine. But it can also be good exercise if you ratchet up the intensity and take it a little more seriously.
It is, after all, an Olympic sport! (Though last year it kind of embarrassed itself with the women’s teams trying to lose to get better bracket draws).
My younger son and I love to play on summer evenings. If there’s not too much wind (the mortal enemy of badminton) we string a net across the driveway and volley or play games – sweating up a storm.
You should try it! It’s way more fun than plodding along on a treadmill.