Having seen the Maybank advert on TV, I did some research on the Internet with regards to the smash record. And really if some in BAM or Maybank would have done the same then we could have potentially avoided a wrongful or mis-representation of an advert.
For reasons I will outline below, the official badminton smash record is still 332km/h (206mph).
This record was set by Chinese Badminton Doubles player Fu Haifeng (a left-hander like Boon Heong) in the 2005 Sudirman Cup.
Boon Heong’s and Kawamae’s badminton smash records are significantly faster – is this because these players have much more powerful smashes, or because the ArcSaber Z-Slash is far superior to the Yonex Titanium 10 which Fu Haifeng used when he broke the record in 2005? I think not.
The badminton smash speeds with the ArcSaber Z-Slash are not comparable to Fu Haifeng’s record for three reasons:
Measuring method: High speed video equipment was used in the Yonex speed trials rather than the microwave technology which is used to record shuttlecock speed in matches.
Situation: The smash was not hit during a match. It is much easier to smash harder when the shuttlecock is being fed to you in a relaxed situation.
Unofficial status of readings: The speed was recorded by Yonex rather than by badminton officials.
In fact, even in 2005, Fu Haifeng’s smash was not the fastest badminton smash to have been measured.
At the 2001 Swiss Open, high speed video was used to measure badminton smash speeds in speed tests similar to that performed by Yonex at the Japan Open.
The results (on the internet archive – can take a while to load) included a 364km/h smash from J. Laugesen of Denmark.
But of course Fu Haifeng’s smash was considered to be the official record.
And of course, if Yonex are so confident they’d have compared the ArcSaber Z-Slash to other badminton rackets in the speed test and be publishing those results too.
You can draw your own conclusions about the effect that being in a speed test has on a player’s smash speed, but the technology used in each case is interesting too – so here’s some information about radar guns and high speed video compares for measuring shuttlecock speeds.
The Technology: Radar Guns and High Speed Video
Fu Haifeng’s record badminton smash was measured the same way speeds are measured during all sporting events: using a radar gun, which measures the change in frequency of microwaves bouncing off the moving object (in other words the gun measures the Doppler effect on the microwaves). The advantage of this method is that every shot in a rally can be logged, and the fastest can be displayed as soon as the the rally ends.
The Yonex speeds were measured using high speed video, which requires manual analysis of the speed, so cannot provide instant feedback. For this reason it is more suitable in test situations such as Yonex’ speed test. Here’s the high speed video in action measuring Boon Heong’s 421km/h smash:
This equipment, provided by NAC, typically records video at 300fps, allowing slow motion 6-12x slower than normal speed. This technology was used at the Olympics and is being used increasingly in sports for showing slow-motion replay – regular slow motion in sports coverage is around 3x slower than normal speed – approximately 75fps.
According to their site, their equipment will be used by SKY during their coverage of the All England next year. NAC’s site has a variety of interesting slow motion videos.
So is the big difference between Fu Haifeng’s record and Boon Heong’s badminton smash speed due to the measuring equipment used? Possibly.
Shuttlecocks are light and have high air-resistance, so they slow down significantly over a short distance. Slow-motion video captures can be used to measure the speed at any point in its flight, so Yonex’s measurement presumably measure the speed of the shuttlecock immediately after the initial impact, when it is at its fastest.
I am not convinced that the radar guns used in the Sudirman cup would have captured the speed immediately after impact. I have not been able to find much information on the internet about this – the most relevant information was from a baseball chat forum:
“The Jugs Speed Gun (Fast Gun) will pick up the speed of the fast ball after it has travelled 3.5 feet”
So it’s entirely possible that the radar gun speed measured the shuttlecocks a foot or so after impact, which would means that Fu Haifeng’s smash was actually significantly faster than the 332km/h which was recorded. However, this is pure speculation on my part as I not been able to discover what type of radar gun equipment is used now, let alone during the 2005 Sudirman Cup.