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Racquet sports such as badminton and tennis continue to be widely played all around the world and are seemingly growing in popularity.
Racquet sports have always served as a popular form of entertainment to be played both competitively and recreationally. This can be seen in the increase in the number of competitive racquet sports tournaments, and the investment of introducing racquet sports into leisure spaces.
Not only are these sports a great way to stay entertained, but they are also great for maintaining physical fitness. Sports such as badminton and tennis serve as great cardiovascular exercises and increase agility by engaging the entire body.
Badminton is amongst the most popular racquet sports in the world. A popular sport to be played as a casual outdoor activity or formally on an indoor court. Whilst the game of badminton was founded by the Duke of Beaufort, the roots of the game were not invented by one specific person. The sport dates back to ancient games.
Similar games have been played all around the world for centuries. From Greece to India, to Egypt. Played across Europe from the 18th century, the game was known as ‘battledore and shuttlecock,’ a game which can be traced back to ancient Greece. Whilst in India, the game was named ‘Poona’ and played with a rubber ball.
The game of badminton originated in India known as Poona. Poona was particularly popular within the garrison town of Pune which is where the game was named after.
How Did Badminton Get To England?
British army troops stationed in the town of Poona, India during the 1860s changed the way that Poona was played by introducing a net between the players. They considered it an evolved version of battledore and shuttlecock.
On returning to England, the army officials brought the game back with them. It was introduced to guests at a party hosted by the Duke of Beaufort at his residence ‘Badminton House.’
How Badminton Got Its Name
The game which we now know as badminton was founded by the Duke of Beaufort. The Duke of Beaufort is commonly referred to as the ‘father of badminton.’ He lived in Badminton, Gloucestershire.
The game was introduced to the Duke’s country house in Badminton in 1873. The name badminton derived from the Duke’s Badminton country estate in Badminton and was described as battledore and shuttlecock but played with a suspended string net and teams.
The Evolution Of Equipment
Badminton gained popularity in the 1870s in Britain and also became popular amongst the CommonWealth nations. The game initially wasn’t played with a shuttlecock but a woolen ball. It was called ball badminton.
Many materials have since been used as a shuttlecock. These have consisted of a velvet-covered cork base with chicken and duck feathers attached to rubber balls. Since then, the shuttlecock has advanced to being made from a synthetic nylon material that offers immense durability.
The original badminton racquet was made from wood or a paddle. However, this material was heavy and therefore it was not the most effective material for such a fast-paced sport.
It has since then moved from a wooden paddle to metal and aluminum. However, with the introduction of new nanotechnology, the advancement of the racquet moved to use carbon and graphic fibers to create a lightweight racquet.
The shape has since also evolved. Originally, it began as a rounded square shape with a string bed made from the animal gut (e.g. cat gut) which was known for its shock absorption and stood as the ideal material to absorb the shock from the shuttlecock.
The evolution of the head of the racquet has since moved from a rounded square frame and animal gut net. Instead, it now takes the form of an oval shape with nylon string designed for durability, shock absorption and to hold string tension.
The Old Governing Body
Badminton was officially launched in 1893 in England by the Badminton Association of England. Not long after, in 1899, the Badminton Association of England launched the first tournament, the All England Open Badminton Championships.
The tournament consisted of men’s doubles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles with single competitions added the following year.
The All England Open Badminton Championships continue to be one of the most famous badminton tournaments.
A New Governing Body
With the sport growing in popularity, the International Badminton Federation (IBF) was created in 1934. The federation consisted of several countries including the United Kingdom, USA, Denmark, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.
Though founded in England, the game of badminton has since become dominated by Denmark within Europe and by Asian nations internationally.
In 1948, the International Badminton Federation launched their first international tournament called the Thomas Cup (World Men’s Team Championships).
The sport first appeared at the Munich Olympic Games in 1972 and the Seoul Games in 1988 as an exhibition sport. Exhibition sports were introduced as demonstration sports which were used to promote unpopular sports.
By 1992, the game had become a full-medal Olympic sport and appeared at the 1992 Barcelona Games. This included competitions in four divisions, men’s singles, and doubles and women’s singles and doubles. The addition of mixed doubles was later introduced in 1996 at the Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, US.
It wasn’t until 2006 that the 193 member nations of the International Badminton Federation changed the name of the governing body to the Badminton World Federation (BWF). The 193 member nations expand across 5 regions.
These include; Asia, Europe, America, Africa, and Oceania. They stand as a world governing body for badminton. Their goal is to regulate, develop and promote badminton globally and to organize inspirational world events.
The way that badminton is played has since moved on from hitting a woolen ball. It consists of hitting the shuttlecock back and forth across the net. The game aims to hit the shuttlecock across the net without letting it touch the ground within the boundaries or the net.
The Evolution Of Rules
Badminton is a popular sport to be played in the summer season. Whilst competitive badminton is played on an indoor court, recreational badminton is often played outdoors.
Initially, the game was played with sides ranging between 1 to 4 players. The game was controlled by the governing body of the Badminton Association of England (BAE). The original rules of badminton were set as the best of 3 games to 15 points.
The rules eventually changed to a more even playing field of 2 or 4 competitors which was found to work best.
In 2005, the game further evolved with a new scoring system. It was decided that 21 points were to be the goal in a set of 3 games with either a single player on either side (singles) or 2 players on each side (doubles).
The original shape of the badminton court was an hourglass figure. Supposedly, the given shape was designed intentionally for the sport to be played within Victorian salons which featured doors that opened inwards from either side.
The rectangular shape we are now familiar with was adopted in 1902. A badminton layout consists of a rectangular court 44ft long and 17ft wide for a game of singles. Whereas, a game of doubles consists of a rectangular court that is 44ft long and 20ft wide for doubles allowing for more space to move.
At the center of the court is a net that stretches 5ft across the width of the court. A 4ft space is left around the perimeter of the court. Competitors play a best of three games in which they aim to play to 21 points. The winner is given a 2 point advantage unless the 2 point advantage is never reached, then the first team or player to reach 30 points wins.
The goal is for the competitors to force other players to miss their shot causing the shuttlecock to either hit the net or ground.
Where Is Badminton Now?
Badminton continues to be one of the most popular sports in the world. The BWF World Championships stands to be the most prestigious tournament in badminton. The BWF World Championships is an opportunity for individuals to compete for the title of badminton World Champion.
Since its early history dating back to ancient Greece, it is undoubtedly that badminton has evolved greatly over time. The advancement in the development of the sport itself, the governing bodies, and the rules have seen the game grow into a sport with a rich history and bright future.
The future of badminton is moving towards expanding even further. The Badminton World Federation aims to grow the sport to attract larger audiences. They are looking to maximize the commercial value of the sport to put it in good stead against competing sports such as Tennis.
The Badminton World Federation will also be rethinking the 21 scoring system by analyzing the rationale for changing it to 5 games to 11 points instead of 3 games to 21 points.