This article is about the racquet sport badminton. For other uses of the name, see Badminton (disambiguation).
Badminton is a racquet sport played by either two opposing players (singles) or two opposing pairs (doubles).
The game of badminton is superficially similar to that of tennis. Players at opposite ends of the court aim to hit a shuttlecock over the net so that it lands inside the marked boundaries of the court, and aim to prevent their opponents from doing the same. Unlike a tennis ball, the shuttlecock flies with a lot of drag, and will not bounce significantly. The shuttlecock is always volleyed, and a point ends as soon as it touches the ground. Badminton racquets have long handles, to make it easier to impart a great deal of momentum to overcome the drag. The racquets are also much lighter than tennis racquets, because the shuttlecock is light.
Although the size of a badminton court is smaller than that of a tennis court, the distance run by a player in a match is usually much greater than that in tennis. Speed, reaction, and endurance are all important to being a successful badminton player.
As in tennis, there are typically five events: men's singles, women's singles, men's doubles, women's doubles and mixed doubles (each pair is composed of one man and one woman).
Playing the game
Each player or pair takes position on either side of a net on a rectangular court marked on the floor, as shown in the diagrams.
The object of the game is to hit a shuttlecock (more colloquially, "bird" or "birdie"), using a racquet, over the net onto the court within the marked boundaries before the opposing player or pair can hit it back. For every time this is achieved by the team currently serving, the serving player or pair scores one point. After winning a point the same player serves again, and continues to serve as long as they continue to win points. If the non-serving team wins the rally, no point is scored but instead there is a change of server. In doubles, one server starts the game, and after losing a rally the serve switches to the opposing team. From then on, both players on a team take turns serving before the serve switches back to their opponents.
The first player or pair to reach 15 points (11 points for women's singles) wins the game. If the score reaches 14-all (10-all for women's singles) the receiving side can choose to "set" and hence extend the game by 3 points, i.e. the first to reach 17 (or 13) points wins. If the non-serving side chooses not to set, the game is decided by a single point, i.e. the first to reach 15 (or 11) points wins. A badminton match can be made up of any odd number of games (usually 3). The winner of the match is the first to win more than half the number of games (e.g. the first to win 3 games in a 5 game match).
The strongest move in badminton is the jump smash. Powerful players can send the bird to almost anywhere on the court at 300 km/h after correctly executing a jump smash. In a smash, the player executes a full swing at the bird in a downward motion. Because of the speed of the shuttle, even the fastest player cannot cover the entire court. Players may not even see the bird's motion and some (professionals as well amateurs) have suffered eye-sight damage as a result of this. Eye protection is advised at this level. In a jump smash, the player jumps high into the air while executing a smash. This allows hitting the bird at a much steeper angle, greatly reducing the bird's duration of flight, and reducing the amount of time the opponent has to respond. Because of the difficulty in returning a smash, most of the game revolves around either setting up yourself or your partner for a smash or else preventing the opposite side from getting in position for a smash.
Doubles: In doubles, each side has two players. Usually one player will stay at the back of the court and the other at the front. This creates an interesting challenge: there is almost always at least one person in position to smash. Typical play involves hitting the bird in a trajectory as low and flat as possible. The first serve is usually a low serve to force the other side to lift the bird. A "flick serve" in which the player will pretend to serve low but hit it high to catch the receiver off-guard is sporadically used throughout the game.
Singles: Players will typically serve to the far back end of the court because there will be a significant distance between the receiver and the net for the bird to slow down. The opponent can return the smash with a drop shot or tumble at the net if the smash fails. The smasher will not be able to reach the net in time and will lose the point. Because of this, there will be significant amounts of clearing (hitting to the tramlines at the back) as well as drop shots to force the other player to be out of position followed by a well placed shot to somewhere the opponent cannot reach. Smashing is thus less prominent in singles than in doubles.
Racquet: Almost all professional badminton racquets are composed of carbon fiber or 'graphite' composite. Carbon fiber has an excellent strength to weight ratio, is stiff, and gives excellent kinetic energy transfer. However, some low-end models use steel or aluminum for some or all of the racquet.
String: Perhaps one of the most overlooked areas of badminton equipment is the string. Different types of string have different response properties. Durability generally varies with performance. Most strings are 21 gauge in thickness and strung at 18 to 30lb of tension. Players' personal preferences play a strong role in string selection.
Shoes: Because acceleration across the court is so important, players need excellent grip with the floor at all times. Badminton shoes need a gum sole for good grip, reinforced side walls for durability during drags, and shock dispersion technology for jumping; badminton places a lot of stress on the knees.
Sports played with a shuttlecock and racquets probably developed in ancient Greece around 2000 years ago but are also mentioned in India and China.
In medieval England a children's game called Battledores and Shuttlecocks was popular. Children would use paddles (Battledores) and work together to keep the Shuttlecock up in the air and prevent it from reaching the ground. The British took the game to Japan, China and Siam as they colonised Asia, and it soon became a children's game there.
The competitive sport of badminton was invented by British army officers in Pune, India in the 19th century when they added a net and played it competitively. As the city of Pune was formerly known as Poona, the game was also known as Poona at that time.
Soldiers brought the game back to England in the 1850s. The sport got its current name in 1860 in a pamphlet by Isaac Spratt, a London toy dealer, entitled "Badminton Battledore - a new game". This described the game as played at Badminton House , the Duke of Beaufort's estate in Gloucestershire, England.
Badminton became a popular sport in the world, primarily in Asia, which currently dominates the sport, and in the Scandinavian countries. It became a Summer Olympic sport at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. Indonesia and Korea shared the gold medal with two each that year.
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