How Fast is an Average Badminton Smash and How to Improve Yours

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The internal body of a badminton player smashing the shuttle

The smash is definitely a favourite shot for a lot of badminton players. The fastest shot in not just badminton, but of all the racket sports, including the tennis serve. A powerful and precise smash can easily win you the point but how fast is it actually?

The fastest ever recorded badminton smash was a blistering fast 493 km/h (306 mph) achieved by the Malaysian Tan Boon Heong. If you are interested in the fastest smashes hit in competitions and the fastest female smash, have a look at the two articles we have written.

It’s hard to know the average speed of everyday badminton players like you and me. But, there are some studies that have been done with elite badminton players that can give us an idea on the average speed of their smashes.

These studies looked at how fast the smash was and how that linked to the technique and movement of the badminton player.

How Fast is an Average Smash?

In one study, 19 elite male Malaysian badminton players were recorded performing forehand jump smashes. The researchers then took the fastest, most accurate jump smash from each player giving an average of 349 km/h (217 mph) with the fastest of all the 19 being 378 km/h (235 mph) [1].

In a different study, which looked at 6 Indonesian elite badminton players (3 male and 3 female), produced a standing smash average of 233 km/h (145 mph) for the females and 276 km/h (171 mph) for the males. The average for a jump smash was 246 km/h (153 mph) for females and 305 km/h (190 mph) for males [2].

So you can see from this small group of 25 players how much a smash can vary in speed.

What we can see from these studies is that jump smashes are faster than standing smashes. For an interesting article on an unusual way to improve your jump smash, check out our article on How Caffeine Can Improve Your Jump Smash.

Another thing that we can do, is have a look at what these studies say that the fastest smashes have in common to see if we can take away some of these features to improve our game.

What do fast smashes have in common?

So what can we take away from these two research papers?

Interestingly both papers came to the main conclusion. The velocity (speed in a specific direction) of the shoulder joint rotation, internal and external shoulder rotation was the major factor that determined a fast smash.

Right: External Rotation                            Left: Internal Rotation 

This means that we can use weight training exercises for our shoulder joints, especially the internal-external shoulder rotation. The purpose of this weight training is to increase the local muscle endurance and power in the shoulder. 

Improve Your Smash

So as suggested by the research papers, by increasing the strength of our shoulders, for muscle power and endurance, we can increase the speed of our smash.

But, how do we achieve this?

Here we have given you some muscle strengthening exercises that can help increase shoulder strength and endurance, and so improve the speed of your smash.

  1. External band
  2. Internal Band
  3. Sleeper stretch
  4. Prone dumbbell Abduction “T’s”
  5. Prone dumbbell Scaptions’ “Y’s”
  6. Side lying dumbbell 
  7. Lateral Raises
  8. Standing Row

You can also check out our article, 7 Smash drills to improve your smash, to improve your smash technique and accuracy or our article One Exercise to Improve Your Smash: Pull-Ups, to improve the strength of your smash.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there is such a range in smash speed, even among elite players, that we can’t for sure say exactly how fast an average smash is.

But using science, we can look at what fast smashes have in common. First we saw that a jump smash gave a faster smash than a standing smash. And secondly, we have seen that a fast rotation in the shoulder joint correlates with a fast smash.

This means that if we can increase the strength and endurance, using the exercises we have provided, then we can increase the speed of our smash!

Happy smashing! 

References

[1] Ramasamy Y, Usman J, Sundar V, Towler H, King M. (2021) Kinetic and kinematic determinants of shuttlecock speed in the forehand jump smash performed by elite male Malaysian badminton players, Sports Biomech 4, 1-16.

[2] Rusdiana, A., Ruhayati, Y., Badruzaman. (2016) 3D kinematic analysis of standing and Jumping Smash Technique of Indonesian Badminton National Elite Athletes. 96. 2525-2535.

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