Russian newspaper Izvestiya said Monday that Russian military units will use badminton equipment to improve their eye muscles, reaction speed and cardiovascular strength.
The United Press International reported that 10,000 rackets and tens of thousands of shuttlecocks are being purchased for the units. The sport has gained recent popularity after Russian President Dmirty Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin shared a friendly game of badminton.
According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Colonel Alexander Shchepelev said, “You use the same muscles playing badminton that you use to throw grenades, knives and other objects.” He further added that the sport will be particularly useful for shooters and snipers.
However, Alexander Khramchikhin, deputy director of Russia’s Institute of Political and Military Analysis, said that providing military units with badminton equipment will most likely relieve stress for soldiers rather than improve skills.
News of the badminton tactic quickly elicited mocking laughter in a country that has lost its fearful reputation, according to The Guardian. The defense ministry even denied the use of badminton as a method of training this Monday, saying the sport is “not included in the physical training program for military personnel.”
Nonetheless, Izvestiya stands by its story, saying that the defense ministry is a closed organization that will typically deny strategical practices. The newspaper added that two other sources had confirmed the existence of the badminton plan. “We know it’s true. There are courts. There are rackets.”