One of the more popular racket sports in the world, badminton has attracted a lot of players and audiences but can it be made into a viable career? And how much do badminton players make in their career? These are some of the questions we try to answer in this article below.
For a sport of this caliber, one can only wonder how much do badminton players earn? In the world of sports, we see their fame, the stardom, and all the glittering gold, which makes us fancy the thought of money-making as a badminton star.
But how does it work for their early days of career? Obviously, not too many reach the top without being through the bottom. What struggles and pay have they been living with when their career kicked off?
For all the answers of how the badminton players earn, how much they earn, and how they start earning initially, keep reading, and you’ll find out!
Different Stages, Different Sources
Just like every other profession or sport, a badminton player also goes through a long list of levels before being finally recognized.
Neither is this just a piece of cake and nor is it accessible to all, so without wanting to sound pessimistic, for every rich and famous badminton player you see there are scores and 100s of others who tried and did not make it to the top.
Players at their initial startup go through a proper channel of intra-city tournaments, then qualify for inter-city championships and then finally to the national level if they can maintain their discipline and hone their potential. For each level, the net pay varies. And that’s what we will be discussing here.
The state-level competitions are termed as a start line for any badminton player. Either they get to the top, or just vanish in the crowd. While they are still struggling for the state level, the following means of income are the only sources of their net earnings.
- Inter-State Championship prizes
- Competitions held by small entrepreneurs or the business companies which aim for marketing also put up prize money
- A temporary pay for representing any company or brand in your tournaments.
Typically earnings from the state level or your first rung of badminton competition aren’t enough to take care of you financially. They rarely break even in fact, but the good news is it gives these top players at that level some more motivation to push on further.
When a player keeps his spirits soaring and makes it to the National level, sources of earnings also get more substantial. These include:
- Sponsors start paying them for their marketing and representation.
- More tournaments and championships mean more prize money.
- Companies hire you for them on a permanent basis for branding.
At this level, your equipment and accessories and training costs are more or less taken care of and you typically earn enough to break even even after paying the coaching staff. Some might sign up top deals with sponsors which help them earn a lot more too.
Very few make it to this level. A level where a player represents not just himself/herself in international tournaments but is also selected in team events by national associations.
And once a player starts representing his/her country of origin, everything changes. And the changes are very positive in terms of earnings, especially as mentioned below.
- Direct government funding and allowances for representing your country.
- Big tournaments, such as the Olympics, come with even bigger cash prizes.
- Both National and International leading companies and brands offer their endorsement as the face of that player is now quite famous.
At this stage, with proper investment into good coaches and support staff, one can make a solid improvement in the rankings and title wins in some of the top badminton tournaments can really catapult one’s career. Some of the best badminton players ever to have played this game belong to this category have made solid careers out of this sport as a result.
How do Professional Badminton Players Make Money?
There are multiple ways in which a professional badminton player can earn a living. These are:
- Government Funding
- Tournament Wins
Once a player reaches the professional level internationally, the ways of money-making can easily double. Professional players at this level think of their name use as well and a mutual benefit partnership.
They now spend along with making money, in the name of future investments. Let’s see what usual ways they opt for their money-making.
A badminton player with talent is fortunate if he is born in a country like China.
Why do I say so? It is because China strives to put their country’s name on the top in every aspect, including badminton. And for that reason, they are never found to back off from any expense issue. That’s also why China is so good at badminton.
National team members of the Chinese badminton squad get paid for their living and every other expense solely by the government. So, they stay focused on their training.
No worries of daily expenses come across their minds, which becomes the main reason for their success and 1st Rank worldwide.
However, sadly not every country is as thoughtful as China. And not every government serves their players this way, even if they have been internationally recognized.
Through Tournament Wins
The primary and most obvious way for a player to earn is to win a championship. Most big tournaments even give prize money to all those who make it to the quarter-finals or close to that.
Depending on the tournament’s caliber, the prize money may range from a few hundred dollars to even a million! No kidding, but Lee Chong Wei was actually able to win about USD 2 million! Isn’t that cool?
Such professional players have to maintain a record of winning tournaments in a row to keep receiving their maximum share.
When a player’s profile is famous, and people get to know them, companies approach them for partnerships or sponsoring deals. General sponsorship packages would mostly include equipment expenses, discounts of their sales, and the player’s fair share in it.
Sponsors look for spending on a team more often, but that is not entirely beneficial for every team member. Instead, an individual player, when being sponsored, gets the most out of it in terms of personal benefits and money as well.
While unfortunately, the individual benefit thing is limited to only the top 10 or top 20 players of the world, such as Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei, who have no doubt made a lot of money this way.
By Business Startups
Even with unlimited number of tournaments these days, one just cannot make enough money through the winning prize only.
Many professional players even have a statistic of winning every 10th tournament they play, which won’t do much justice. A player loses hope if he isn’t winning, and neither he is earning in any way.
In that case, while he practices for the winning, many start their coaching journeys as well. National or state well academies hire such players very easily for teaching the young talent. Some players also start their own academies, which is sort of a kick start business.
The experience of coaching doubles the money too, with the passing time and brings the player on the right track of earning.
Other Perks of Becoming a Top Badminton Player
Not only do these earnings stabilize a player’s lifestyle, but they also contribute to the fame and publicity. Let’s see how.
Fame and Spotlight
By trending on top, companies want to make them their faces. By branding, marketing, and endorsing, a player can reach new heights of fandom and popularity. Who doesn’t like to be in the spotlight, though?
Making it to the Forbes List
The American business magazine Forbes has an eye keen enough to enlist all the trending, highly paid players. They publish a list every year in March called “The World’s Billionaires” or “The Forbes List”.
Only the crème de la crème players of badminton get to see their names on the list, such as P.V. Sindhu, who got her name in the Forbes List 2019 with a pay of $5.5 million which included $5 million in endorsement fee.
Settled Career for Whole Life
Within the peak era of their play, badminton players make sure to establish their business, make investments, and whatnot, to have a settled career and life later on, even if they do not continue playing.
Coaching & Commentary Career Post-Retirement
Even if you do not make it to the Forbes’ lists or earn a bucketload during your playing career, with proper people-management skills you could go on to make it as a badminton coach. That is a lucrative career on its own.
And there’s no stopping ex-players from appearing as guests on television and online shows or even getting commentary gigs with host broadcasters of badminton tournaments.
How do Badminton and Tennis Earnings Compare?
According to reports, tennis is played by almost 60 million people from all over the world, while badminton players around the globe are nearly 220 million! Unfortunately, these numbers won’t account for the same proportions in terms of earnings.
Players from both fields can make fortunes if they have got what it takes. However, the world’s top riches list shows more tennis players as compared to the badminton players.
Maybe it’s because of tennis being a well-recognized and old-established game with stronger roots, while badminton still has a long way to go. Another factor is that tennis is more preferred in rich states and countries, resulting in more earnings.
For the most basic comparison, let’s look at the richest badminton player Lee Chong Wei who holds a total of $35 million. In contrast, the world’s richest tennis player Roger Federer was expected to become the first ever tennis billionaire by 2020 before the coronavirus pandemic stuck!
This number difference can do the talking itself.
More comparable is the earnings of squash players, who till recently did struggle to make a proper living but things seem to have changed lately. Check out our guide on squash player salaries here.
Final Words on Badminton Player Earnings
After all this discussion of millions and dollars, the final takeaway will sum up around the fact that as long as you nurture your talent, the pay flows in automatically.
In a game of talent and passion, such as badminton, the spirit of winning is far more important than the spirit of earning. If you stay focused on your game, you are automatically aiming well for a fair pay.
With money being also a great necessity, play wisely and grab opportunities that come in your way. Because for a soaring player, you never know which ladder is going to take you places.
Power up your game, invest in yourself, make decisions smartly, and you’ll never end up disappointed. Neither in terms of the game nor your finances.