Badminton was originally a child’ game and was initially called “battledore” or “shuttlecock.” Originally Badminton was played with a feathered shuttlecock back and forth with tiny rackets. During the 18th century in India, Badminton was called “poona.” British army officers who were stationed in India during this time brought this version of Poona back to England during the 1860’s. Once it was back in England it spread slowly as the army met would introduce the sport to friends. It wasn’t until a famous party in 1837 that the game really got going. The Duke of Beaufort had a party at his country place where the sport was played. The name of the country place was “Badminton in Gloucestershire. At the time of this party, the game had no name, and so it was simply referred to as “The Game Of Badminton.” That’s how the game got it’s official name!
Now that the game had a name, it spread quickly from England to the United States, New Zealand, Canada, and Australia. Despite its “male” beginnings, the sport is now pretty evenly divided with about the same number of women playing the sport as men.
In 1899 the first All England championship for men was held and the first tournament for woman was organized in 1900. For some reason or the other, these two tournaments were deemed to be unofficial, and it wasn’t until 1904 that the “official” beginning of the All England matches started. In 1920 there were only about 300 badminton clubs in all of England, but by 1920 there were 500, and amazingly, only 10 years later, there were over 9,000 in the British Isles after World War II.
The International Badminton Federation was organized in 1934 with 9 initial members – Canada, England, Netherlands, Denmark, France, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and New Zealand. It wasn’t until 1981 that this organization because the sports only international governing body. The International Badminton Federation, in 1939, decided it was time for International competitions, and the IB president at the time, Sir George A. Thomas, Baronet offered a trophy to the winning team. Ironically shuttlecosk shortages during the war and post-war caused a delay in the first “Thomas Cup” games until the 1948-1949 season. Someone tried to introduce an international women’s team around the same time, but ultimately it wasn’t acted upon due to financial difficulties. Eventually, during the 1956-1957 season, the “Uber Cup” was held. The Uber Cup was a women’s international triennial tournament where the trophy was donated by Mrs. H.S. Uber of England. In 1992 Badminton was first contested as an official Olympic sport in Barcelona, Spain. There are now several world Badminton events including the Uber Cup, World Championships, World Juniors, Sudirman Cup, the World Cup, and the World Grand Prix Finals.
The game of Badminton today resembles tennis and volleyball and involves the use of a net, a shuttlecock and lightweight rackets. The shuttlecock is typically a cork ball fitted with feathers for stabilization. It’s played with either two or four players and is played indoors or outdoors on a marked court about 44 feet by 17 feet wide for two players and 20 feet wide for 2 players. The official measurements for the net are that the top edge of the net should be 5 feet 1 inch from the ground at the posts and 5 feet from the ground at the center. During Badminton play, only the serving side can win a point. If the side serving the shuttlecock fails to return they lose the serve and if the side receiving fails to return, they lose the point and they will receive again. A Badminton game is played to 15 points, except in women’s singles, which is played to 11 points. If the score is tied toward the end of a game, it can be decided through a procedure called setting. Setting is a tie breaking procedure which involves different procedures depending on the point at which the score is tied and the rules may be different for men and women’s competition.
Badminton has a rich and interesting history, and it’s popularity is always increasing with the availability of inexpensive equipment and places to play, almost anyone can enjoy the sport of Badminton. New competitions are being planned including the development of a SuperSeries and some one-off “Spectaculars.” Searching on YouTube for badminton yields all sorts of interesting videos and match play and exhibition games.