Everything You Need to Know About Badminton

The sport of badminton has been around for a very long time. In fact, its humble beginnings are thought to have occurred around the late 1800s. From a backyard past time to its position as one of the sports featured in the Summer Olympics, the game of badminton offers competitive fun for all ages.

What is Badminton?

Badminton is a game played where the opponents use a racquet to pass a projectile over a net. It has similar features to the game of tennis, for which most people are familiar. It can be played both indoors and outdoors, although attention should be given to the height of the ceiling during indoor play.

In simplest terms, the object of badminton is to not allow the projectile, known as a shuttlecock, to drop on your side of the net and you do not want to hit it out of bounds. Like tennis, the game of badminton can be played in both the format of singles and doubles. The rules for each format vary slightly in regards to service and reception.

The sport dates back as early as 1860 when Isaac Spratt, a toy dealer in London, England, wrote a pamphlet entitled, "Badminton Battledore- A New Game." While no copies are thought to have survived to present day, this is perhaps the first documentation of the modern version of the sport created during the middle of the 19th century.

Shortly thereafter in 1863, another publication was produced in The Cornhill Magazine. This article explained the sport of badminton as "battledore and shuttlecock played with sides, across a string suspended some five feet from the ground" which is very much the same version played today.

The term battledore is a former name for the presently adopted piece of equipment now known as the racquet. Shuttlecock is the name of the projectile used and has also been referred to as a "birdie," especially in recreational play.

Although documentation cites the mid-19th century beginnings of badminton, the sport has also been said to originate from expatriate officers in the British India realm. Regardless, by the 1870s, the sport was well-known and quite popular among the European population.

Originally, the International Badminton Federation was established in 1934 with the following countries laying its foundation: England, France, Scotland, Denmark, Canada, Wales, Ireland, New Zealand and the Netherlands. Later in 1936, India joined the list of its members and the organization is currently known as the Badminton World Federation. This is the governing body of all international badminton play to include the Summer Olympic Games.

Since the 1992 Summer Olympics, badminton has been included on the list of participating sports. During its '92 debut, the sport included four events with men’s singles and doubles as well as women's singles and doubles. Four years later at the next Summer Olympics, there was an addition to the badminton lineup in the form of mixed doubles.

This current Olympic event dates back to an earlier sport known as "jeu de volant" or battledore and shuttlecock played in British India. During its early play, the sport was predominately ruled by the country of Denmark. Nowadays, badminton has risen in popularity across the globe, especially on the continent of Asia. The popularity jump in Asia has resulted in the sport shifting from Denmark domination to Chinese control.

How Do You Play Badminton?

Now that we have witnessed how the sport of badminton has stood the test of time and grown from the mid-19th century to a Summer Olympic sport in the 1990s, what are the key ingredients to playing the game? To begin, you will need a rectangular court. Cutting this court in half across the middle of its two long sides will be a net that is placed approximately five feet from the ground. A close comparison would be visualizing a court for tennis, but using a volleyball net.

Next, you will need both a racquet for each player and one shuttlecock (or shuttle as it is sometimes called). Players will need to be in top shape if they are competing at a high level of play and not merely as a recreational backyard activity. Aerobic stamina and agility are assets as this technical sport demands good motor coordination and complex movements of the racquet.

Players will face off from opposite sides of the net in their respective side of the court. In recreational activities, larger teams may play; however, during competitive play, the court is reserved for singles and doubles only.

A player will serve the shuttle from his/her side of the net, over to the opposing player. This serve must flow over the short service line and the player on the receiving end must receive the shuttle while staying within the lines of the service court. At the beginning of a rally, the server positions him/herself in a diagonal direction of his/her opponent. Upon serving, the shuttle is not permitted to bounce up from the court when received (as is routine in tennis) since the object of the game is not to allow the shuttle to drop.

Once the shuttle either goes out of bounds or hits the floor/ground within the court, a point is scored. Regardless of which side sends the service, the point is awarded to the player who did not allow the shuttle to drop. This type of scoring is known as rally scoring, similarly seen in modern day volleyball, where a point is awarded at the end of each play.

The serving player continues service from the same side until he/she loses the shuttle. At this point the other side begins serving. Once the other side has ended serving, the first service player will switch to the other side of the service line on his/her court with the opponent following suit as they will continue to face each other in a diagonal fashion.

A complete game of badminton is played to 21 points. Using the rally scoring system of a point for each play, the winner is whoever reaches 21 points first. However, there are a few additional scoring notations. If both sides are tied at 21, then the winner but achieve a 2 point margin in order to reign as the winner. For example, if the score is 21-all, the score of 23-21 would be an acceptable win, yet 25-24 would not. Along the same lines of this end-of-game scoring report is the event of a tie at 29-all. Once both players are tied at 29, then it becomes a form of sudden death known as the golden point. This golden point simply means the player to score the next point (namely point 30) will be awarded the golden point and declared the winner.

Players will engage in contest until the best of three games is decided which will result in the completion of the match. Whichever player wins the first game will in turn be the first server in the second game. This same pattern applies to the winner of the second game in determining the third game's first server, if needed.

What are the Rules for Badminton?

Rules for badminton include restrictions on the racquet used in play as well as the size and design of the shuttles.

A proper badminton court includes a full width of 6.1 meters (20 feet) with a singles court adjusting to the use of the reduced size of 5.18 meters (17 feet). Length wise the court features 13.4 meters (44 feet) and this is standard for both singles and doubles.

Within the boundary lines, there is a service line near the center of the court approximately 1.98 meters (6 feet, 6 inches) from the net. The net runs across the middle of the court at roughly 3 meters (10 feet) from one long side to the other.

The height of the net extends to about 1.55 meters (5 feet, 1 inch) when measured on the ends and slightly lower in the middle at a measurement of 1.524 meters (5 feet).

Keeping the shuttlecock in the air and within the court boundaries is the main objective of the game. To begin the rally, a service player must stand behind the line within the constraints of the box and positioned diagonally from the receiver. Additionally, the receiver must remain within the bounds of the box to receive the serve.

The server must drop the shuttle below 1.15 meters distance from the court's surface to begin the serve. Once the serve is in play, it must fly into the opposing side's box in the area behind the service line. The shuttle may not bounce to the receiver- once it hits the court the play ends.

If the serve is lost, the shuttle is given to the opponent who becomes the server. Some ways the serve may be lost is through a fault. A fault results when the shuttle hits the net, does not go over the net, goes out of bounds, or if the receiver was not ready as deemed by the umpire or line judge.

In singles' play, the server is in their right side of their court when his/her score is an even number and likewise stands on the left when the score is odd. Doubles' play looks a little different with one player on each respective side of their court; however, the server will not continue to serve to the same receiver. In doubles, the player on the right serves when the score is even and the player standing on the left serves during odd scores. This format allows a different opponent for each serve reception.

In order to determine which side serves first, a coin may be tossed or the shuttlecock is thrown and the direction it lands gets to choose to either serve or receive first or select the side to begin play.

Another important service-related item is movement. Players are forbidden to move until the shuttle is struck with the racquet. Once the shuttle comes into contact with the racquet and is served, both the players in service and reception are permitted to move. If movement is detected prematurely, a fault may be declared.

What Are Some Accessories Used in Badminton?

Perhaps the most common accessory in badminton, especially for backyard or recreational use, is a badminton set. This set consists primarily of a box or bag including a net with poles that are inserted into the ground or court. Often there are ropes to adjust and maintain the tension in order to keep the net at the required height for proper play.

Secondly, the set would include an individual racquet or set of racquets for use by the players for both singles and/or doubles play. Additionally, there would be a collection of shuttlecocks (birdies) to use in play and extras in case of damage or loss. Some sets do not include a net but simply are portable companions to house the player's racquet and shuttlecock. Whether the player is looking for some backyard fun at the next summer barbecue or planning on competitive play, a badminton set is essential for a ready-to-go match.

What is Important in a Badminton Racquet?

When looking for a badminton racquet, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. First, a lightweight racquet is important. In today's game, most top quality racquets weigh-in between 70-90 grams or 2.5-3.4 ounces. While there are many different materials used in the composition of the racquet ranging from solid steel to carbon fiber composite or reinforced graphite plastic, the most common is carbon fiber.

Carbon fiber results in an amazing product comprised of both strength and utilization of kinetic energy. The construction leads to a strength to weight ratio that is excellent for play. In the past, racquets were created with wood or aluminum. Today, they are no longer made from wood, although some aluminum models are still in existence.

The addition of nanomaterials is now part of the formula in their construction. Specifically, fullerene and carbon nanotubes work to assist in the durable nature of the modern racquets. Traditionally, the shape of the badminton racquet was oval in nature. Although the oval shape is still used, today's game more commonly sees an isometric shape.

What is Essential in Choosing a Badminton Shoe?

Finding the right shoe for any sport is an important piece of the uniform. Badminton shoes are ideally made of lightweight construction with a rubber sole. The rubber sole provides high grip for the court.

In comparison to the traditional running shoe, a badminton shoe offers relatively small lateral support. This is noteworthy as a large amount of lateral support is necessary for performance where unexpected lateral motion is common. This becomes an issue when substantial lateral movements are necessary and expected such as in the game of badminton. Wearing such a lightweight and thin soled shoe with little lateral support, aids in preventing ankle sprains.

What Type of Net is Best for Badminton?

Since the net is the most essential part of the badminton set in establishing a court of play, it is important to select one that has some longevity to it. Be sure to note the top and bottom portions. These areas need to have some reinforcement in the form of vinyl coverings or braided stitching.

The use of yellow net tape is another helpful feature as it assists the player in ease of seeing the net especially when playing in darker environments such as the beach or backyard. Clean pocketed sides enable the net to retain more flexibility and resist snapping which in turn prolongs the life of the badminton net as well.

What is the Ideal String to Use in a Badminton Racquet?

While it is argued as to which string is the best for badminton, the answer ultimately rests in the type of play desired. For professionals who generally have a more precise shot and fluid use of the racquet, a higher tension is ideal for achieving the highest level of power. This occurs since the professional player often engages in a faster swing of motion.

In comparison, the recreational player may enjoy a lower tension in order to achieve more power through the use of a bouncier string bed. Regardless, the best means for finding the perfect badminton string tension is through trial and error.

Thin is the preferred string size for most players, yet the thicker the string the higher its durability. Again, it all comes down to the player's preference. A general thickness of 0.62-0.73 millimeters is found on many racquets. Again, the more important aspect to consider is the tension.

String tension of a recreational player displays a lower tension setting with a score of 80-110N or 18-25 lbf. In the professional realm, it is better to have a higher tension. Professionals' tension ranges from 110-160N or 25 and 361 lbf.

Keep in mind that tension readings may vary from one maker to another. Some manufacturers get their figures for thickness while the tension is engaged and thus results in a thicker reading than when slack is given.

What are Important Features in Badminton Accessories?

It is helpful to consider the racquet's grip. Some players prefer to build up their grip by layering the grip of choice over top of one another. Some grips are made from PU synthetic material or toweling.

If sweat is an issue with the grip, it can be important to consider an adhesive that is easy to remove. Excess sweat can wreak havoc for a badminton player resulting in a loss of grip ability. Replacement grips can increase the handle size and/or provide an outer skin that can be removed frequently if sweating is a real concern.

Shuttlecocks are integral in the play of badminton. The conical projectile is created by overlapping sixteen feathers into a rounded base. This base is composed of a cork bed and finished off with a layer of synthetic material or thin leather. While feathered shuttles are more expensive, the backyard player commonly uses a plastic meshed netting version that works well for its intended purpose.

Professionally speaking there are rules to ensure the shuttlecock is game ready. To do this, the shuttle needs to produce correct speed and this is what is measured by the test. The test engages a full throttle underhand hit and takes into account the landing location.

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