Badminton may have originated as a gentleman’s form of tennis and risen to popularity as a pleasant middle-class, backyard activity, but recent years have seen the sport rise to new heights of competitiveness. With the luxury of being able to be played either indoors or outdoors, more people than ever are discovering what makes this game so entertaining.
However, like with most sports, badminton comes with its own set of equipment that must be carefully selected to ensure top quality play. While most people are familiar with the pieces of equipment that are most active at eye-level–the racquet and shuttlecock–many might overlook the importance of footwear.
This would be a grave mistake as badminton is far more reliant on the player’s ability to make short bursts of movement with maximal speed and agility. As such, the best badminton shoes accommodate those needs.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to determine what shoes are the best–especially since different players and different settings call for different shoes. That is why we have put together a list of the 5 best badminton shoes for different purposes as well as a helpful buyer’s guide so you can feel confident you are making an informed choice.
Best Badminton Shoes 2017
|Asics Men's GEL-Rocket 7 Volleyball Shoe|
|Yonex Men's Pro Cushion SHB-02 MX Badminton Shoe-Blue|
|Adidas Performance Men's Ligra 4 Volleyball||Rubber||11|
|Adidas Performance Men's Barricade Club Tennis Shoes||Rubber||13.4|
|ASICS Men's GEL-Upcourt Indoor Court Shoe||Rubber||10.6|
Asics Men’s GEL-Rocket 7 Volleyball Shoe – Best Concrete Court Badminton Shoe
Our first product comes from the Asics line, a brand well-renowned for their cross-trainers and running shoes but who have not yet earned the recognition they deserve in the badminton arena. That is truly a shame, because Asics has actually captured 2 positions on our list and both of them are based on the court on which you play. If your play style is less of a factor, then the court you play on will become one of the primary concerns when making a decision.
Unfortunately, this shoe does come with a number of caveats–especially in regards to stability and responsiveness. The uppers are made out of mesh without any synthetic additions. While your feet may be more comfortable and breathe easier, there is not support offered. Furthermore, the 7’s shank features a hard plate on the outer sole–rather than in the midsole like some other product–which reduces your responsiveness.
Yonex Men’s Pro Cushion SHB-02 MX Badminton Shoe-Blue – Best Front Court Badminton Shoes
Yonex is a well-known brand in the badminton shoes market. In fact, Yonex has earned a well-deserved reputation for producing top-quality shoes for a number of lesser-played court sports, including squash. With that experience, the Yonex offers a few features that are specifically designed to improve a badminton player’s performance above all other sports and products on our list.
However, all of those features placing a premium on movement have to give up something. In this case, the Yonex sacrifices stability. First, the arch support is less than ideal. Even if you have normal arches, you might find these shoes to be a bit too flat for a perfect fit. Furthermore, this shoe features one of the lowest cuts on our list, requiring your ankles be in tip top shape or risk rolling more than with other models.
Adidas Performance Men’s Ligra 4 Volleyball – Best Backcourt Badminton Shoes
Our first adidas might be seen as the complete opposite of the Yonex. In fact, the focus of this shoe is so diametrically opposed to the Yonex that it has been named our best badminton shoe for backcourt players. However, a quick look at its design will explain why.
First, this shoes provides the fullest tread out of any on our list. Since backcourt players are required to make longer sprints that the front court, that means their shoes must push off with more surface than would a front court player’s. As such, that additional tread covering the entire outer sole serves them well. Moreover, the uppers are made from synthetic and mesh materials, providing adequate breathability with a bit more support. Finally, the shank of the outer sole is a filled rubber tread which will provide more traction when making a quick burst across court.
Unfortunately, this shoe is better served outdoors than indoors due to its hard rubber outer sole. However, backcourt players can often get away with hard rubber outer soles easier than front court players cna. Another possible concern is that the cut is a bit low for the backcourt, where a touch more ankle support would be preferred. Finally, these shoes run a bit smaller than their size indicates which can lead to a tight fit.
Adidas Performance Men’s Barricade Club Tennis Shoes – Best Slamming Badminton Shoes
Our second adidas is designed for use on the front court, but it requires a specific type of player to get the most out of them. In particular, these are excellent badminton shoes if you are an aggressive player who enjoys driving devastating overhand slams into your opponent. In this regard, the adidas has placed all focus into this above all else.
Sadly, all of this focus on power and stability must come from somewhere. For the Barricade, this power requires a reduction of speed. This is easily the heaviest shoe on our list–almost 30 percent heavier than the lightest. Moreover, this shoe features a hard rubber outer sole, which will limit its traction–and thus agility–on indoor courts.
ASICS Men’s GEL-Upcourt Indoor Court Shoe – Best Indoor Court Badminton Shoe
It may be a surprise to those familiar with the badminton world, but our top rated badminton shoe for indoor court play is not a Yonex. It is an Asics. However, the reason why is simple: the Asics is the only shoe on our list to feature an outer sole made entirely of gum rubber. This material choice will allow the Asics to offer more traction on indoor courts than any other shoe on our list.
Unfortunately, being a jack of trades for playing styles means this shoe is a master of none. This shows up most prominently with the conspicuous absence of a hexagonal traction pattern, which would be better for indoor courts. Moreover, the additional pivot traction as well as the rearfoot GEL cushion offer a nice mix of features but prevent this shoe from truly specializing in any style of play.
While various types of tennis shoes have a number of features in common, shoes that are best for highly competitive badminton play are surprisingly specific in their needs. Regardless the type of player you are or your skill level, there are three primary concerns when choosing badminton shoes: speed, support, and agility.
However, different shoes provide different levels of each of these three key factors. Moreover, different shoes will approach addressing each factor in their own way. There is a dizzying amount of technology that goes into tennis shoes in general and badminton shoes in particular.
Here, we will walk you through some of the main consideration to keep in mind as well as point out what can be helpful but is not necessary. Furthermore, we will look at auxilliary factors that should influence which type of shoe you purchase.
Outer Sole (Stability and Grip)
This is arguably the most important factor to consider when selecting badminton shoes. Considering the sport demands a premium of lightning fast reactions that involve more lateral movements than most other sports, your outer sole must be able to keep up with the intense demands that you will inevitably place on it.
However, the construction and materials of the outer sole will vary a bit depending on what you intend to do on the court and what type of court you are playing on. The four most common court types are: grass, concrete, and wood or polyurethane. Grass and concrete courts are generally for outdoor play, while wood and polyurethane courts are generally indoors.
Thankfully, you can group the two outdoor courts and the two indoor courts together when choosing badminton shoes, so all shoes offer some versatility. The main consideration with the outer sole in regards to whether you are playing on an indoor or outdoor court has to do with the materials.
Indoor courts require a softer rubber to better grip the floor as you dart along the court. Ideally, indoor court badminton shoe outer soles will be made from gum rubber. Conversely, gum rubber is too soft for outdoor courts and will wear quickly.
That is why when you are playing on an outdoor court, your outer sole should be made from a harder rubber material. This will allow the outer sole to still provide the traction necessary while not rubbing off due to friction quite so quickly.
Another difference in the preferred outer soles between indoor and outdoor courts has to do with the traction. While a plethora of traction designs exist, this will be more relevant depending on your play style. However, the depth of the traction tread will be more or less favorable to different courts.
However, for indoor courts, deep trad ultimately provide less traction. Ideally, the tread of indoor badminton shoes will make contact with as much of the court’s surface as possible while still providing enough tread to grip during quick, lateral movements.
While not quite as important as the outer sole, the midsole comes in a close second. This is the part of the shoe most responsible for your shoe’s fit and its responsiveness to rapid changes in direction. This is the part of the shoe that will also house your primary form of cushioning.
Together, all of these features will help determine your agility through movement as well as the wear and tear you do to your body in the course of play. The cushion of the midsole will often be designed to provide a snug fit, utilizing ergoshape designs, as well as sufficient shock absorption, often from a Powercushion or some other feature, including air units.
Midsoles can be made from a wide range of materials–each focusing on either fit or impact reduction to different degrees–but ethylene-vinyl acetate, EVA, and polyurethane, PU, are the two most common. However, some of the more advanced midsoles will actually provide numerous layers of different materials, each serving a different function and contributing to a more well-rounded product.
Regardless the court, regardless your playing style–regardless all other factors considered–the weight of your badminton shoes is a vital quality to be assessed. Thankfully, there is a general rule of thumb when it comes to weight and badminton shoes: the lighter the better.
Because badminton is more focused on rapid, lateral movements and less focused on extended sprints, the speed and agility of your steps becomes more important than ultimate stability. Whereas basketball shoes need to consider the stability of design more, badminton shoes need to favor speed and agility above all else.
The insole will either be ignored completely or lavished with attention. There are few points of middle ground when it comes to this part of the badminton shoe. In fairness, the shoes that ignore the insole altogether place an exceedingly high priority on the midsole to ensure all the qualities those two parts address are covered.
Regardless, if the insole is paid any attention, it will be designed for a few characteristics, names cushion, fit, and responsiveness. Of the three, responsiveness is the quality that will generally be highlighted the most in an insole and will be designed to prevent your foot from sliding inside of the shoe as you make quick, lateral movements.
The cushion of an insole will rarely be thick enough to matter, though it may utilize some form of shock absorbing material. The insole will also generally affect the fit less than the midsole will, but a thick insole could force the shoes to run a bit small.
The uppers are important for two primary reasons: stability and breathability. Unfortunately, these two factors are often at odds with one another, where the more stable uppers are the less breathable and vice versa.
While design and construction will have definitive impact on how stable or breathable your badminton shoes are, the ultimate quality that will determine the stability vs breathability battle will be the uppers’ material.
Considering the badminton will favor speed and agility over stability, you will never find a badminton shoe with a high top cut. In fact, the overwhelming majority of badminton shoes favors a low top cut.
However, there is a lot of wiggle room with this quality, and it will really depend on what you need.
Some badminton shoes eschew support altogether and provide an ultra low top cut. However, there are also badminton shoes out there that provide either a mid top cut or a hybrid low-mid top cut. These shoes will provide varying degrees of ankle support while still allowing you to dart around the court.
Where you play on the court and your style of play will heavily influence which badminton shoe is right for you. Keep in mind, this consideration has nothing to do with the quality of the shoes themselves, but instead factors into the decision of what features are most relevant.
For instance, front court players will often require a higher premium on lateral movement than players in the back of the court. Of course, due to the nature of the game of badminton, all positions require above average lateral agility, but front court moreso.
However, even on the front court, there can be differences in the style of play which may move your decision towards one product or another. For example, if you are an exceptionally aggressive player who revels in delivering crushing overhand slams, you will want a shoe that provides additional cushion and impact response.
Regardless, all front court players require more responsive shoes with a larger pivot point than backcourt players do. However, this requires the front court players to give up some stability and support in pursuit of speed and agility.
Conversely, backcourt players will generally want shoes that offer more support and are better suited to the longer distances they are required to sprint. These shoes will generally place a premium on fit so that the longer bursts are as efficient as possible. Moreover, backcourt players will want their impact protection to be more diffuse, offering protection across the whole shoe, rather than focused on the landing point after a jump.
While this feature is not an absolute necessity, it does provide an additional degree of lateral support that anyone whose shoes have it appreciate. The lateral claw should be located on the lateral forefoot, right where the fifth metatarsal connects to the lateral cuneiform bone. This feature will generally come with 2 to 4 rigid supports extending upward from the edge of the outer sole.
The lateral claw provides a point of horizontal pivot. Aside from offering support, this pivot point also allows you to generate power and move laterally at a quicker pace.
As we can see, there really is not a “best badminton shoe.” Whichever shoe is right for you will factor on a number of different things. The court you play on and your style of play will ultimately force you to gravitate towards one type of shoe or another.
For instance, if you play most of your games outdoors, you are going to want to get the Asics Men’s GEL-Rocket 7’s. Conversely, if you find yourself playing indoors on a wood or polyurethane court, you are better off going with Asics’ other model on our list, the GEL-Upcourt Indoor Courts.
Similarly, if you are a backcourt player, the adidas Performance Men’s Ligra 4 are the shoe for you, while players who stick to the front court will be better served with the Yonex Men’s Pro Cushion SHB-02 MX’s, However, even front court players have a decision to make as players with an aggressive still will likely prefer adidas’ second product on our list, the Performance Men’s Barricade Club, due to its focus on shock absorption and pivot control.
Regardless, wherever you play, however you play, there is a shoe out there that is the best badminton shoe–it just will not be the best badminton shoe for everyone else. Ultimately, you need to consider all of the factors–both about yourself and the shoe–to figure out which one is right for you.