Running shoes vs Badminton shoes

Adidas BT Feather / Brooks Glycerin 10

It is not uncommon that we have beginning badminton players come to the Badminton Central forum asking if they can wear their running shoes or basketball shoes for badminton. The seasoned badminton players all knows that it is a big no-no. But have anyone of us ever tried doing that? I have done just that recently and here is what i found out.

Before going into the rest of this article, I want to make a disclaimer: Playing badminton with running shoes is highly not recommended. Due to the design of running shoes, there is a high chance of getting injured wearing them to play badminton.

My wife and kids attends a badminton class every Sunday, first the kids have a 1 hour small group lesson and then the wifey takes a 1 hour 1-on-2 with a local coach. There isn’t much that I can do during that 2 hours period. The competition around is only so-so and I usually do some practice with the boys and then i go out for a fast 5km run to train my stamina.

One day after I came back from a hard effort on the road and the wife wants to do some drills. I was slightly on the sore side after the run but the promise was that I only have to feed while standing on one spot.

And since I still had my running shoes on, which was a pair of Brooks Glycerin 10, I just walked out to the court with that and a racket. The shoes are like the regular style running shoes with ample amount of padding on the heel, and little lateral support, so what can go wrong.

BT Feather / Glycerin 10

The drills was pretty simple, some clears and drives initially, I was surprised how conscious I was with the shoes. Perhaps mentally I knew that they are not the right ones to wear, every step was taken with care. The Brooks made me felt like I was walking on a thin mattress. I was surprised how much traction is required just adjusting the body position for simple drives and clears. And being floated so high it really did make me lose confidence on any sideways lateral movement.

As expected what was very noticible is the lack of lateral support. Pushing sideways the feet just slides outwards for a little bit before catching some moderate soft resistance. And while I didn’t risk pushing it too far but if pushed even harder, I am sure the foot will be met with a cliff falling off the side of the sole.

The drill progressed to some block and netshots, a bit more footwork involved. What seemingly  just a half court fore/aft movement also requires sideways pushing off! The lack of support, and especially with the mental awareness of it, drastically slowed down the initial movement. Although it does make me concentrate harder with extra strength added to stabilize the feet, akin to say wearing sandals while playing badminton (you have done that too, right?), it is very unstable.

What I do notice is that despite the coarse tread on the sole, they perform well with traction, I didn’t have much problem with the grip on smooth indoor surfaces.

After maybe 10-15mins of hitting, I could no longer take it. I slipped back into my trusted Adidas BT Feather. A pair of shoes that is designed for badminton.

The immediate reaction is not the traction, but how close the feet are to the ground, and the BT Feathers aren’t even known for being low either. Another thing that i noticed is that the comfy padding is gone. No more mattress under the feet and they are feeling every impact of the hard ground. And last but not least, the tighter and solid support all around, especially sideways on the forefoot and on the heels.

Movement is back to normal again, although each push is harsher, the result is more confidence and stability, and that turned into faster response, acceleration and speed. I was more relaxed and didn’t have any issue pushing off harder as I know the shoes are designed for fast lateral movement and the risk of my rolling and straining my ankles are minimized.

For the beginning badminton players, even though the running shoes that you have in your closet might be the most convenient shoes to use, they are designed for one purpose alone and that is to move you forward at a mostly constant pace. Badminton requires fast lateral movements in all direction with sudden turns and acceleration. To minimize injuries the badminton shoes are designed with very stable lateral support.

A good pair of badminton is absolutely required if you want to progress further in badminton.