Objective: To describe the characteristics of badminton in order to determine the energy requirements, temporal structure, and movements in the game that indicate performance level. To use the findings to plan training with greater precision. Methods: Eleven badminton players (mean (SD) age 21.8 (3.26) years) with international experience from four different countries (France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal) were studied. Two of the Spanish players were monitored in several matches, giving a total of 14 samples, all during the 1999 Spanish International Tournament. Blood lactate concentration was measured with a reflective photometer. Maximum and average heart rates were recorded with a heart rate monitor. Temporal structure and actions during the matches were determined from video recordings. All variables were measured during and after the game and later analysed using a descriptive study. Results: The results confirmed the high demands of the sport, with a maximum heart rate of 190.5 beats/min and an average of 173.5 beats/min during matches over 28 minutes long and performance intervals of 6.4 seconds and rest time of 12.9 seconds between exchanges. Conclusions: The results suggest that badminton is characterised by repetitive efforts of alactic nature and great intensity which are continuously performed throughout the match. An awareness of these characteristics, together with data on the correlations between certain actions such as unforced errors and winning shots and the final result of the match, will aid in more appropriate planning and monitoring of specific training.