Tennis or Badminton? Grab your racket or racquet for a right real rally of sport
Think of Wimbledon and you automatically think Tennis. Yes - Wimbledon is on its way with all its sparkle and glamour of a Grand Slam event. Strawberries and cream, sunshine and of course Tennis - lots of Tennis! Guaranteed that kids (and some adults) everywhere are dusting off their rackets ready to get out there to emulate their tennis idols. As a nation we have a lot of love and admiration for the game, and its unique British heritage.
But what about other racket sports? Badminton definitely has its place in the British racket sport hall of fame. It may come as a surprise to some that worldwide Badminton is played by an estimated one billion people! Impressive stats.
We explore both Tennis and Badminton, delve into their histories and highlight their benefits for any future budding Andy Murray or Gail Emms. So whether your child is reaching for their racket or racquet, we have all the knowledge and advice you need for getting them into Tennis or Badminton.
Life on the Court - Quiet Please
Did you know…
During the Wimbledon Championships 28,000 kg of fresh strawberries along with 10,000 litres of fresh cream are eaten. (1)
‘Real Tennis’ was the first form of sport to be played in England in the 16th Century. Henry VII was quite a fan!
Badminton officially the fastest racquet sport in the world. The shuttlecock can reach up to speeds of 200 miles per hour (the same speed as Eurostar!)
The fastest badminton hit in competition is 206 miles per hour by China's Fu Haifeng. (5)
Tennis - An Overview
With roots spanning back to the 16th Century, Tennis has captured the imagination and hearts of British people. Even Royalty were seen to display their love of the game with King Henry VIII famously building his very own Tennis court in Hampton Court Palace in 1530. The modern game of Tennis was created by Major Walter Wingfield in 1873, four years before the first ever Wimbledon Championships took place.
Tennis was included in the Olympic schedule from 1896 to 1921. It then had a 60 year break from the Games before its return at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. Team GB has won more Olympic Tennis medals than any other nation (42 in fact). With a whopping haul of 18 Gold, 14 Silver and 11 Bronze medals. (2) Two of the most recent of these Gold medals coming from Team GB and Wimbledon Champion - Sir Andy Murray.
With a rich royal history, we explore the benefits of getting out on court and getting your child involved in children tennis activities.
Tennis - The Benefits
Hitting for Health
Tennis is a fantastic aerobic activity that helps build cardiovascular fitness. It is a sport that works every muscle group in the body, particularly the arms and legs. Participating in Tennis helps to develop quick reactions and therefore contributes towards agility, balance and coordination. These skills are all key in achieving those tricky hard-to-reach shots in a rally during a game.
Keep your eye on the ball
Working hand in hand with the health benefits of the sport, Tennis also requires concentration and focus. It is great for developing fine motor skills and encouraging kids to think strategically during a game. Focusing on what your opponent could do next in a game to score a point is part of the sport’s unique charm. Of course there is also the Tennis’ point system to consider too including Deuce to Tie-Break.
Get Social (on and off the court)
Tennis is a very sociable activity. If your child chooses to become a member of a Tennis club, there will often be social activities on and off the court. It’s also worth noting that Tennis is considered a lifetime sport, meaning anyone from the age of 8 - 80 can play the game. The perfect activity for the whole family to enjoy.
Tennis - The Kit
New Balls Please (and other equipment)
Although some activity providers may provide your child with all the equipment they need to play Tennis, you might want to consider buying your child their own kit. This is particularly useful for them to practise away from the court and their lessons. They will of course need a racket, and junior rackets are quite reasonable. Tennis balls are also relatively cheap and easily accessible to buy.
Get Kitted Out
Enquire at your Tennis club or with your activity provider regarding Tennis kit for your child’s lessons. They may be required to wear a particular club colour or uniform. Tennis attire is usually predominantly white shorts and/or skirt with a white t-shirt. Good tennis shoes are important to prevent ankle injuries. You may also want to consider clothing for practise during the colder months as although Tennis can be played indoors, it is mainly considered an outdoor activity. Check with your activity provider whether activities will take place in cold or adverse weather conditions.
Be Part of the Club
Find a Tennis club that suits your child and your family. We are fortunate to have a lot of fantastic local Tennis clubs offering a range of classes and tuition. Do your research and find out if any clubs offer free taster sessions for little ones. If you are interested in family membership, it’s worth doing your homework to find a club who can accommodate.
Tennis - How to get involved
You can buy Tennis equipment for children as young as 3 years of age, but generally speaking teaching is recommended from aged 5.
The Lawn Tennis Association offers a free 6 week introductory course to Tennis with their scheme ‘Tennis for Kids’ it’s well worth investigating to see if they run courses in your local area. These courses are run by specially trained coaches for 5 - 8 year olds. They are a great intro to the sport with fun filled activities, with the opportunity for parents to get involved, as well as the potential to carry on playing at the venue. Your child will also receive a racket to use on the course and if they continue with the sport, they will get to keep it. (3)
Badminton - An Overview
Badminton has a very rich and interesting history and can be traced back in some form to Ancient Greece. Rules of the modern game were developed in Britain but the concept brought over from India by the traditional game ‘Poona’. The sport takes its name from Badminton House in Gloucestershire, home to the Duke of Beaufort. It is thought that the Duke introduced the modern game as we know it to his guests in 1873. (4)
The sport grew in popularity and by 1899 the Badminton Federation of England organised the very first All England Championships. Despite its fascinating history, Badminton didn’t become an Olympic sport until 1992. Team GB have won four Olympic medals in the sport with Gail Emms and Nathan Robertson winning the Mixed Doubles Silver in Athens in 1994. In Rio Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge brought home a Bronze in the Men’s Doubles event.
Badminton - The Benefits
Feel the Need for Speed!
Badminton shares similar health benefits to its racquet sport cousin Tennis. From using the same muscle groups, Badminton provides a fantastic aerobic workout. It also helps to develop agility and reflexes and well as aid hand-eye coordination.
Badminton has been described as the fastest racquet sport in the world. With the shuttlecock often travelling up to 200 miles per hour. Faster than a Formula 1 car! (5)
Keep on Running…
Unlike Tennis, Badminton players do not take rest breaks in between games on the court. Therefore the game definitely builds and develops stamina. It is fast paced where an average game can take up to two hours.
There are a number of ways your child can get involved in Badminton. Like Tennis it is a sociable sport and can be enjoyed by the whole family. Traditionally played indoors on Badminton courts, the game is unique in that it can also be enjoyed just about anywhere in parks, gardens or on the beach.
Badminton - The Kit
Your activity provider will be able to give you advice on the right racquet for your child according to their age and ability. Badminton racquets for beginners are light and durable. Your child might find it useful to have their own racquet so they can practice outside of lessons. There are two types of shuttlecock: plastic and feathered. Plastic shuttlecocks are more suitable for beginners as they tend to travel shorter distances. Perfect for building strength and confidence.
Comfort is Key
Just like Tennis it’s important that your child has the correct footwear for playing Badminton. As the sport is fast paced, it’s key that your child’s ankles are protected against injury. It is also worth asking your activity provider about the correct clothing to wear for lessons. Usual attire included shorts and t-shirt, but check with your provider in case there is a particular club uniform.
Once again we are spoilt for choice locally with a range of fantastic activity providers that run Badminton coaching and instruction. With over 22,000 leisure centre Badminton courts available across the UK you’ll be spoilt for choice should you want to have a go at the sport as a family first. As per our advice regarding Tennis instruction, do your homework and find out if any local Badminton clubs offer taster sessions before committing to a course of lessons.
Badminton - How to get involved
Badminton England run two initiatives for kids and young adults to get them involved in the sport. For primary school ages children ‘The Racket Pack’ introduce them to Badminton in a fun and engaging way. The scheme is designed to give kids a positive first experience of Badminton. ‘The Racket Pack’ can take place in schools and also in Badminton clubs so check with your activity provider to see if they are involved. The programme is supported by their very own award scheme with certificates for your child as they progress. (6)
For young adults, Badminton England offer ‘SmashUp!’. The programme is informal, fun and aimed at inspiring 13-16 year olds of all sporting ability to get involved in Badminton for fun. With no dress code and no formal coaching - Smashup! involves fun Badminton challenges with mates with the added bonus of a music playlist.
To find out how we can help you search and plan for local after school activities, simply sign up on our website.
Coombe Wood Lawn Tennis Club
Richmond Lawn Tennis Club
Surbiton Racket & Fitness Club
New Malden Sports Club
Wimbledon Racquets & Fitness Club