Like tennis, Badminton is split into 5 disciplines: men’s and ladies’ singles, men’s and ladies’ doubles, and mixed doubles. Badminton doubles is a fast and furious combination of aggression and teamwork which is thrilling to watch when played well.
In contrast to singles, doubles players will go for all out attacks, as their partner can protect them from quick counter-attacks to the net. Doubles games at the international level tend to involve one player firing multiple high speed jump smashes at his opponents.
At this level, high speed means over 300kph (186mph) – the record for the badminton smash (and also the fastest stroke in any racket sport) is an intimidating 332kph (206mph), set in 2005 by Fu Haifeng of China. (Faster smash speeds of over 400kph / 250mph have been recorded by Yonex during speed tests used for promotional purposes).
So doubles at the top level requires incredible anticipation and reaction time, as well as powerful leg muscles to propel the players into the air so they can smash at a steep angle onto their opponents.
What’s fascinating about doubles is the dynamics you get between different pairings. You need to trust your partner and understand his strengths and weaknesses to play well with him. You need to be aware of what he can see and how much ground he can cover, so you avoid playing shots which expose him to attack. It is a great challenge to master this aspect of the game, but also deeply rewarding.
To finish, this video shows an incredible rally in a mixed doubles game in the final of the Sudirman cup. Not only does it demonstrate the athleticism and consistency required to compete in international badminton, but also how easy it is to lose a hard fought point if you and your partner leave part of the court open!