Palm Rules Badminton - The Equipment

A complete set of badminton equipment -- net, posts, rackets and birdies -- is typically available at most department stores. However, these sets are very poor quality, and under the extreme stress of Palm Rules Badminton they tend not to last too long.

Birdies: The guys who play serious badminton call them "shuttles", but to the rest of us they'll always be "birdies". The birdies that come in the basic set typically are plastic with a small rubber nose that merely snaps on. When subjected to a forceful hit (and there are lots of forceful hits in Palm Rules Badminton!), sometimes the little rubber tip comes off and travels a half a mile or so while the plastic feather part falls to the ground.

This gets old. At sporting goods stores, it is usually possible to get a type of birdie that is only marginally more expensive, but is much more durable. These birdies are still made of plastic, but the nose is made of a solid piece of felt that is firmly attached. Such birdies can be beaten senseless; eventually, the plastic "feathers" will tear apart, but the birdie is still usable. It will, however, get caught in a racket more often.

It is also possible to buy real birdies, with a cork tip and real feathers. Nobody I know has chosen to spend this kind of money for a game of Palm Rules Badminton, however; it somehow seems wrong to smash such a pretty and delicate creation so mercilessly.

Rackets: If you play a power game of Palm Rules Badminton, the strings on a cheap racket will usually fail within a matter of minutes. However, badminton is considered a serious sport by some, and rackets of nearly any quality can be purchased. A graphite racket with an aerodynamic rim was found for $200 -- without string! Again, not really called for in Palm Rules Badminton.

For only slightly more than the really cheap rackets, it is possible to get a fairly sturdy model. There are some that come with tiny steel cables for strings, and since strings are usually what fails first, these are excellent for this game. The basic rackets have steel frames, with fiberglass and other materials reserved for the more expensive models; the steel is best for rough play, so this is fine.

The handles on the cheap rackets may come loose, but it is a simple matter to glue them on securely.

The cheap rackets also usually come with vinyl wrapping on the handle, which is really poor for aggressive play. Once the player works up a sweat, the vinyl gets slippery, and he must grip it tighter and tighter. The end result is a very sore hand. This problem can be avoided by purchasing some thin foam tape intended for tennis racket handles and rewrapping the badminton racket with it.

Net: Actually, finding a sturdy badminton net is all but impossible. What has normally been done for Palm Rules Badminton is to provide a really sturdy mounting scheme -- a pair of 4x4 wooden posts or the like -- and care for the net as much as possible. It still requires replacement entirely too often.

The net is not really all that critical. It is possible to get a decent game going without a net; just scratch a line on the ground and go to it.

Court: We have always played this game on grass. It is very hard on the grass, and occasional resodding has proven necessary. However, even though the official game of badminton can be played on a hard court, it is not recommended for Palm Rules Badminton. The game is too rough, and a hard court will either tame the play too much or radically increase the incidence of injury.

Eye Protection: While probably not of utmost importance in official badminton, in Palm Rules Badminton some protective eyewear is probably not a bad idea. We have never had an eye injury, but when the games get fast and furious it is easy to visualize one occurring. Better safe than sorry.

The Rules





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