The Physics of Badminton
Prof. Scott Hildreth
I would like to start off with a light introduction to the sport of Badminton. Badminton is a sport that isn’t too popular in the United States; some people would even say that it shouldn’t even be called a “sport”. The majority see badminton from a “back-yard sport” point of view, part of this is due to the lack of actual badminton court facilities in America, also because it’s a bit expensive to play. Badminton is not like basketball or football, in terms of being able to just pick up a ball and go outside and throw a ball around or go to a court in the park, a real game of badminton can’t even be played outside because of the wind. On top of needing to pay to be able to play inside an actual facility, for badminton you would have to pay for “shuttlecocks” as well, the shuttlecock or “birdie” is what you hit back and forth over the net. If you want to be able to play more “comfortably” you would have to consider even more expenses, because you would have to invest in a good badminton racket, which can range from $100 - $250 depending how light/flexible/etc. you would want your racket to be. Badminton has its similarities and differences from other sports such as soccer, football, baseball, etc. All sports require some type of correct “form”, such as the right way to shoot a ball into the net or to throw a ball into one of the receiver’s hands. In order to excel in badminton however, the most important thing to learn early on is the proper “form”. At tournaments or even just playing at a regular badminton facility it wouldn’t be too surprising to see a 110 pound girl hitting the birdie farther and faster than a grown man who obviously has more upper body strength and would be able to put my force into his swing. There are three main reasons that someone would want to learn the “proper hitting form”, that would be to maximize the upper arm internal rotation, the forearm internal rotation, and the hand flexion (flick of the wrist). People spend numerous years of training (usually 4 – 5) just for them to be able to learn the proper form, so that they can be more efficient and not waste as much energy in between shots during a rally. No matter how muscularly built or how much endurance you have, if you have the proper form plus the ability to exude a lot of force as well, it just means you’ll be able to hit much harder and faster than your opponents. The proper wrist motion is always one of the first things to be taught for beginners in badminton. From a study that focused on the “Biomechanics of Arm Movement During a Badminton Smash” performed at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, they used mainly a kinematic approach, at the beginning they stated that “There will be no consideration to the amount of force that is exerted by each player” (going back to what I mentioned earlier about why a little girl would be able to hit harder than a very strong body builder). To be sure that the people who were being studied did in fact have the “correct form”, the subjects that they chose were female members of the Singapore national team, and to be even considered to be on the national team of any country that person must have gone through at least 5 – 10+ years of very rigorous training of trying to perfect their “swing”. They concluded that: “Among the three arm segments, the contribution of the upper arm internal rotation is the most significant, followed by the contribution of the forearm internal rotation. The hand flexion takes the third place of the contributions to the final racket head velocity. These results correspond slightly to the research paper by Tang, et al. (1995) whereby they have also identified the hand movement at the wrist joint and the 15 forearm movement at the radio-ulna joint seemed to contribute to produce great velocities of the racket head”
The people who performed the research confirmed that proper arm...
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