A comprehensive guide on buying the perfect pair of Badminton shoes
Badminton suddenly has everything going for it. In a cricket crazy country like India where ‘Cricket is religion’, It has become the perfect spectator sport. Matches are short, breathtakingly fast-paced and lend themselves to intense drama. Someone playing the game definitely knows that the sport is a combination of jumps, lunges, quick changes in direction and rapid arm movements.
It requires finely tuned tactical sense, fitness and perfect sports gear to take you ahead in the game. Talking about the gear, two things pop up in the mind as soon as you hear the word ‘Badminton’. Firstly a badminton racquet and shuttle, secondly a good pair of shoes. A good pair of badminton shoes not only enhances the on-court performance but also prevents injuries.
With so many options available in the market”,how to choose the best and the most suitable pair? This guide will answer the question in detail. It takes you through the various aspects to be considered while buying them. Not only buying, this guide also covers the aspect of maintenance of your shoes. A little bit of care will keep your asset in good shape for long making sure you reap maximum benefit out of it.
The points below enlist the criteria of selecting the perfect pair of Badminton shoes.
Depending on the level of play
For some badminton is a recreational activity, for others, it is passion and profession. The playing frequency is an important factor while deciding the purchase of shoes.
A Beginner or casual player – Ventilation is important here. As a beginner or occasional player, you don’t want to get bothered by sweaty feet. It is a distraction which affects your performance in a game. Shoes with breathable membranes like mesh lining or waterproof membranes or lining are preffered in this case.
A Regular player – Padding is foremost. The cushioned badminton shoes will absorb the shock of the high jumps and landing on the feet. This will lessen the risk of injuries.
Heavy-duty player – Support is crucial. Aggressive motion is the attribute of an intensive player. You have to keep up a balance between speed and stability. An adequate support feature will make sure that you are in control during the high-intensity movements.
Depending on the style of playing
It may sound unnecessary criteria at first. Thanks to the ever-evolving technology nowadays, badminton shoes are specifically designed to suit your playing style. On the court, players have their own strengths and weaknesses. Some are strong at playing acrobatic net shots and some are almost unbeatable near the baseline.
Promptness at net – If your strength is swiftness and you like to attack the opponent with smashes and hairpin shots at the net, then shoes with some specific qualities are chosen. Adequate traction, a large pivot point on the sole and a comfortable fit are the standouts.
Adequate traction will ensure that you stay firm at the court and helps with the sudden shift in direction.
A large pivot point on the sole helps efficient and aggressive turns.
A comfortable fit makes you put down all the power on the court.
Rear court steadiness – When you are up against a sturdy defence, playing with intelligence and not brawn makes sense. To weaken their return you slice a smash to your opponent’s forehand followed by full pace smash to their non-racket shoulder. For applying a tactic like this you need your shoes to own a particular set of attributes. These attributes are steadiness and support, good shock absorbers and again a snug fit.
Steadiness and support for a protected feel as you turn on the spot and run short distances.
Good shock absorption to take the impact on your feet during takeoff and landing.
A snug fit to prevent your feet from tiring throughout the match.
Depending upon the type of Badminton court
Badminton is mostly played indoors as it can be easily affected by the wind. Some may like the challenge of chasing the shuttle along with the breeze. For such people, the shoe that lowers the centre of gravity is a good choice. Everyday trainers can also work for players who play occasionally. Most of you like playing the sports in an indoor setting. For them the choice is based on the type of court, they are playing on.
Badminton court floors are generally of three types: PVC/ PU, wooden, concrete. PVC/PU and wooden surfaces are best suited for playing the sport.
Wooden and Polyurethane courts – Most domestic, as well as international tournament courts are wooden with a PU(polyurethane) top layer. Wooden and PU courts tend to be on a slippery side. For this you need shoes with good traction to ensure a firm grip. Shoes with a gum rubber sole are apt for such surfaces. Another thing to keep in mind is to get shoes that have Non-Marking Rubber. This is because many tournaments and clubs have rules that specify that the shoes should not leave a mark on the court.
Cement court – It is not advisable to play on cemented courts and that too for a long period. The tough surface takes a toll on knees, ankles and in some rare cases lower back. The shoes used here should have good cushioning and support for absorbing the shock and reducing time on the court. Shoes with rubber sole should be used instead of a gum rubber sole. The gum sole will wear out quickly owing to the harsh surface of the court.
Depending upon your feet type/profile
You definitely know that feet size is a principal criterion in selecting a shoe but what is feet profile? Sounds like an alien concept right? Most of us don’t know what’s our feet type. With the ever-evolving technology, it is not only important to know your feet size but also equally important to know your feet type.
Arch, width, and foot balance are the 3 basic elements that describe your feet profile.
Balance is an important one as badminton is all about speed and steadiness. You want shoes that balance your feet so that getting back into a hitting posture is easy.
Your feet can have a neutral balance, pronated (ankle bent inwards), or supinated (ankle bent outwards.). To find the balance of your feet, grab an old shoe and look at the wear on the heels. Pronounced wear on the inside of shoe heels indicates pronation and on the outside supination. Now if your feet are pronated you can buy shoes with a bit of extra cushioning on the inner side. Similarly, if your feet are supinated then you can get that extra cushioning on the outer side.
Crucial, but often overlooked points while purchasing Badminton shoes
There are so many brands out there with so many variants of badminton shoes on offer. Many of them have specifications that match your need. You know your level of play, your playing style, playing surface, size, budget, etc. still you can’t decide which one to go for. Consider these points, so you can make an informed choice.
Buying the right GRADE of Badminton shoes – Imagine walking into a multi-branded shoe store or surfing the net in search of badminton shoes. You liked a pair from Yonex. Your requirements are met by the particular pair. While rolling your eyes on the store shelf or while scrolling down the webpage you find another pair with similar specifications but at a lower price. You thought that you got a deal.
You are not the smarter one this time; it’s the shoe company. They don’t always make shoes that are equally well quality wise. This is because they know that they have customers who will wear their shoes for a short duration of time.
Teenagers outgrow their size before they have a chance to wear them out. The shoes designed for them are not of the highest quality as the time for which they will be wearing them is not much. These shoes last a month or two school program but cannot sustain for a longer period. Teenage shoes come in adult sizes hence adults are tempted to buy these shoes.
Therefore, Adults should avoid budget grade shoes as their feet have stopped growing and they have to wear it for a longer haul.
Other players are not always the best source to take advice – By no means, the intention is to say that their opinion doesn’t count. This is because shoe technology is changing at a pace like any other technology. Most of the players use shoes that are one or two seasons old. Many haven’t purchased them from the past four years or more.
A better option can be taking help of an expert or an informed staff of a store. This way you won’t be missing out on the next big thing.
There are Brands other than Yonex – Yonex as a brand is synonymous with badminton all over the world. You watch an international or national level match on the television and you see the logo of the brand flashing everywhere. They are the title sponsors, sponsors to the players(on badminton racket, attire, shoes of the players).
It has been the only dominant brand for years in this sport. Thanks to the amazing quality of gear and equipment they offer, they had always been successful in crushing the competition easily. But are they the only brand making quality equipment and gear? The answer is a definite ‘No’. When it comes to badminton shoes, there are brands which are equally trustworthy as Yonex.
Some worldwide popular brands like Adidas and Puma make awesome badminton shoes using the best of the best technology. Similarly, some lesser recognized brands like Asics, Bablot, Head, Mizuno, Li Ning, Nivia, Fly Power are slowly making their way through. These companies make some high-quality shoes that are perfectly suited for playing on badminton courts. Slowly but steadily they are challenging Yonex’s dominance in this sport. For example, Li Ning’s aggressive marketing strategies in 2009 BWF World Championship hosted in India make Yonex feel the heat.
What needs to be said is that one should look beyond the narrow world of brand Yonex and consider some equally good value for money alternatives. Yonex without a doubt makes an excellent quality of shoes, but there are other ones to be considered while buying the shoes.
Moving further, the above-said things stressed about the points to be considered while purchasing the right pair of shoes. Till now you must have got an idea of the basic characteristics of good quality shoes. The essential attributes of badminton shoes are summed up below.
Lightweight yet durable It’s not always true that lightweight shoes are best. If you don’t exactly want to compromise on the durability factor then slightly heavier ones can be considered.
Well ventilated so that sweat doesn’t bother you and affects your game.
Snug fit to provide comfort throughout the game.
Sole flex to provide better flexibilty for fast paced game.
Material used should be of good as well as of the latest quality.
Cushioning technology should not be compromised to prevent injuries.
Non-marking outsole to prevent marking on the court surface. A good pattern to be considered for a better grip on the court surface.
Considering the facts, there are some latest technologies which you should look out for while selecting shoes depending on your level and style of play. The first three are for beginners and the rest of them come in more handy as your level progresses. As you move down the list the level of technology also increases. The more technologically advanced your shoes gets the more price you have to pay.
Different brands come up with different technologies. The most promising ones are listed below.
Ergoshape helps most in footwork as it is the contour in which the shoes are shaped. Forefoot area is stable and comfortable as a result of this ergoshape.
Double Russel Mesh provides eight times better air exchange as compared to normal shoes. This is because it is the best breathable material out there. Blisters are prevented as a result of added ventilation.
Lateral Shell It prevents sliding at the edge of the sole as it is located at the outside of the fore foot.
Lateral Claw stabilizes the sides of the feet to prevent lateral movement upon landing. This transfers more power into the next movement. Both lateral shell and lateral claw technologies decrease powerloss and increase footwork response.
Wave Technology places a plate inside the sole. It maintains the duality of cushioning and stability. Wave base plate sucks and dispells impact forces, providing excellent cushioning.
Hexagrip is for agile and stable footwork.The pattern on the sole provides 3% more grip and is 20% lighter than standard sole material.
Super MsLite is a polymer-based midsole 10% lighter than MsLite and 20% more durable than ordinary E.V.A.
The Trusstic System technology links the rearfoot with the frontfoot as it is a midfoot technology. It also supports the midfoot as it prepares for propulsion.
The Dynamic Cradle is again a technology for midsole which helps balance the foot.
The list mentioned above is just a glimpse of the footwear technologies available. Choose the one which caters best to your needs.
Having said all the above, here is a list of shoes that caters the need of all types of badminton players. The list includes shoes for both men and women considering factors like shock absorption, stability and comfort.
Asics GEL- rocket 8 -It is lightweight with good cushioning and structural support. Risk of ankle injuries is reduced as it is having ample ankle support. You will be at ease while making swift movements and then balancing yourself after the movement. The gum rubber sole provides excellent traction and grip. The only downside is minimal arch support. Considering the pricing this only con can be easily ignored.
Yonex Pro Cushion SHB-02 MX – If you want a snugly fitting pair but don’t want to compromise on ventilation then this is the pick for you. The ultra fine-mesh provides excellent breathability. It is designed to minimize power loss. They don’t have to offer a wide colour choice, and people with wide feet may not find them fitting properly. These are again reasonably priced.
Asics GEL tactic 2- Another Asics on the list. These are actually volleyball shoes that are equally suited to play badminton too. They are best suited for intensive players as the durability is excellent. It has two layers of plush SpEVA midsole material to absorb shock. They are a somewhat narrow fitting. With the advanced technology put in them, their price is also on a higher side. If your pocket allows it then they are something which cannot be missed.
Puma Invicto Sala – This one has excellent structural support to cut power loss and injuries. They are lightweight owing to the removable sock liner feature. The low-profile rubber outsole lowers the centre of gravity and provides good traction. The variety of colours available almost pleases everyone taste. The cons are that they are not suitable for running and sizes run a bit small. Also, they are on a pricier side.
Bablot Shadow Spirit Badminton shoes- Stability, grip and comfort are the three words required to describe these shoes. The elastic wrap inside gives a decent grasp and fit the shoes consummately. The patterns present in the bottom sole provides good lateral movement along with stopping power. It provides good pace to the player without feeling the drag of the movements. The price is also a plus point. The only thing is that it won’t work very well on the cemented courts as the cushioning is not adequate.
Asics Women’s gel Upcourt- The different design of this Ascis product catches the eye. The thin sole provides support and better centre of gravity with no compromise on comfort. The extra cushioning is like an asset to the gear. There are no cons to mention except that the white material can look dirty easily. This one won’t also burn a hole in your pocket.
Yonex Power Cushion 46 Men’s Badminton Shoes- As the name suggests it has a power cushion that absorbs shock in an astounding way. Switching to the next movement becomes easy as the cushions reverse the impact energy. You can’t come up with a con owing to the price at which it is offered.
Adidas Performance Men’s Ligra 4-How can anyone miss Adidas when it comes to sports gear. Their Ligra 4 is one of the best in the class. The traction is amazing, durability is incomparable and it is as comfortable as possible. The ultra-flexible feature helps you make aggressive moves and twists on the court. The breathable mesh keeps your feet dry for a long duration of time also prevent blisters. The amazing quality makes it an expensive buy but if you are ready to shell out some money then grab then now.
Mizuno Women’s Wave lightning- These specifically designed for women shoes are powered with Dynamotion Grove and Power + Bounce. Collectively they are excellent shock absorbers. Dura Shield technology not only protects your feet from dragging on the floor but also provides excellent traction. The color choice provided is another absorbing factor to lure you into buying them. Again they are priced on a higher side in the list.
Head Men’s Speed Pro Lite Indoor Low Shoe- It boasts of the lateral control technology. The technology enhances the flexibility of the ankle making it easier to lunge forward while reaching for the shuttle. They are lightweight and ultra comfortable. The rubber sole provides stability and acts as a shock absorbent. They are a bit expensive as compared to others in the class.
Yonex SHB01LTD Badminton Shoes- These are the most comfortable of the lot. The sole offers impeccable grip and stability. It has a two-piece sole. The bottom one prevents from sliding while the inner one makes sure you have a good grip while jumping and leaning. They feel hard for the initial use but eventually softens on continuous usage. This durable and affordable pair comes with an attractive design to complement it. The only con is the not so good ventilation.
How to maintain the Badminton Shoes?
Buying a quality pair of shoes doesn’t mean that the task is over. All good things come with an expiry date. Same is the fate even for the most expensive pair out there. The only thing to make sure is that they remain in good shape till they last. One should maintain their badminton shoes so that it can last as long as it is supposed to last. Here are some tips to maintain good health of your shoes.
Don’t use them unless you have to- Use them while playing only and they will work as you please. Putting on your shoes and going for a walk or maybe using them as your running shoes are like murdering before they live their full life. They’re not meant to take tearing stabs from little rocks and whatnots.
Be careful with the cushion- A worn off cushion will make your ankles and heels pain heavily. Actually, increased pain is a sign that your cushion needs to be replaced urgently.
Keep them dry- Sweaty feet after a session is unavoidable. If the moisture gets sealed in the shoes it can drastically reduce the quality of the shoes. The leather becomes too soft to be supportive, and the glue probably becomes less effective making your feet slip inside your shoes. So always make it a point to air dry them completely before keeping it back into the bag. Don’t keep them under the sun for quick drying. It can affect the outer leather/material adversely.
Keeping you shoe disinfected and odour free is also necessary. One can use alcohol cotton balls once a week to clean and disinfect the interior. Another option is spraying the inside with lysol disinfectant after every session. Similarly, a piece of charcoal can be kept inside to suck the moisture and bad smell.
Keep the shoe grip in better condition- There are some players who spit on the court and rub it against the soles for traction. Some lick their hands and use it to moist their soles. Not only it looks gross but also doesn’t do any good. There are better ways to maintain the grip, and the most important one is to follow a regular cleaning routine. One can keep a moist towel with them during the game. It moistens the soles and removes the dirt if any. A sticky mat is also a handy option.
As for a cleaning routine, a mild cleaner like dish detergent and a small plastic bristle brush about 3 inches long and 3/4 inch wide is all you need. A toothbrush or a fingernail cleaning brush works well for the same. Put it in your gym bag and do it as needed. A pair of tweezers is helpful when the dirt is stuck deep inside the grip. Just be careful not to damage the sole.
Keep the laces clean- Laces accumulate a lot of dirt and sometimes stains over a period of time. Placing them in hot water for about 5-8 minutes gives them a cleaner look. One can add 2-3 drops of mild detergent, soak it up and then wash it off. Leave the laces to air dry.
Fix the scratches- Coloured nail polish can come to the rescue when it comes to clear the scratches. Yes, you read it right. Nail polish can do the trick if you see visible scuffs. Carefully touch up your shoes and clear off those smudges. White coloured nail polish is used for white sneakers and other same coloured nail polishes for pairs other than white.
Remove stains to keep them sparkly clean- A face cloth and a little bit of vinegar can achieve the desired result. Simply dip it in vinegar and sponge off the stain. If your shoes are non-leather then Mr. Clean magic eraser can be a good option. Just wet the magic eraser and rub it on the stains on the sole, or on any of the harder areas of the shoe.
The benefits of a good pair of badminton shoes cannot be negated. Any sport accompanies with it the risk of injuries. Needless to say, some are a stroke of sheer bad luck. Anyone can turn or twist an ankle, but some can be thoughtfully prevented. A suitable pair of shoes does that job for you. They can affect your performance dramatically. Therefore, purchasing good quality badminton shoes should not be seen as an expense but as an investment for your better performance.
We have tried to cover each and every aspect of buying the best pair. On your part, think of your requirement and choice, decide upon a budget and grab your own perfect pair of badminton shoes.