From Academic Kids

Badminton court, perspective view
Badminton court, perspective view

Badminton is a racquet sport played by either two opposing players (singles) or two opposing pairs (doubles) and is played indoors.

The game of badminton is superficially similar to that of tennis and/or volleyball. Players at opposite ends of the court aim to hit a shuttlecock, more commonly called a birdie, 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. Badminton is the fastest raquet sport in the world with shuttles reaching speeds of up to 332 km/h.

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. This is due, in part, to the fact that the entire court must be covered by the player as the shuttlecock is not allowed to bounce before being returned. Also, the rallies of each point tend to be much longer than tennis. This is in spite of that winning a 'shutout' match in badminton requires only winning 30 points (15-0, 15-0, in a Men's Single match) whereas in tennis it would require 72 points (6-0, 6-0, 6-0). Speed, reaction, and endurance are all important to being a successful badminton player. From a fitness perspective a close comparison can be made to Squash which also has the same explosive starts.

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).


The service court

Ones decide between two service courts. There is the service court for singles, which is 5.18 meters wide and 13.40 meters long. The service court for doubles is 6.10 meters wide and 11.88 meters long. The service court is divided in two parts. In the middle of the court there is a net, which is 1.55 meters high. The short service lines go away 1.98 meters from the net. Left service court and right service court are divided by the centre line.


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Badminton racquets

Racquet: Traditionally racquets were made of wood. Later on aluminium or other light metals became the material of choice. Now, almost all professional badminton racquets are composed of carbon fiber composite (graphite reinforced plastic). Carbon fiber has an excellent strength to weight ratio, is stiff, and gives excellent kinetic energy transfer. However, some low-end models still 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.

The Japanese manufacturer Yonex dominates the badminton equipment market, making racquets, shoes, and everything in between.

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 (normally shortened to "shuttle" or "cock"; 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 player on the right-hand serving side always begins the serving.

The Rules

At the beginning of the game the shuttle must be thrown on the net. The movement of the shuttle top settles who of the players has the right to serve.


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 Let

The let has to follow in direction of the diagonal opposite part of the service court. If it?s an even score (0, 2, 4, 6, …points), the let will follow from the right service court. If it?s an uneven score, the let will follow from the left service court.

The Faults (selection)

If the server makes a fault the opposing player gets the right to serve, but the team doesn?t get one point. As fault rates, if the shuttle hits the ground outside of the court, hangs in the net or touches the ceiling/side walls, a person or the dress of a player. A service court error has been made when a player has served out of turn, has served from the wrong service court, has touched the net or has obstructed an opposing player.


The strongest move in badminton is the jump smash. Powerful players can send the shuttle 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 shuttlecock in a downward motion. Because of the speed of the shuttle, even the fastest player cannot cover the entire court. . In a jump smash, the player jumps high into the air while executing a smash. This allows hitting the shuttle 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 strive to stay at the back of the court and the other at the front, which is considered an optimal and attacking position, as this leaves the back player in best position to smash. Typical play involves hitting the shuttle in a trajectory as low and flat as possible. A side that hits a high shot and anticipates a smash in return will often retreat to a side-by-side defensive position, with each player covering half of the court, to better return a smash. The first serve is usually a low serve to force the other side to lift the shuttle. 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. Since one person needs to cover the entire court, 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 less prominent in singles than in doubles because players are rarely in the ideal position to execute a smash, and smashing out of position leaves the smasher very vulnerable if the shot is returned.

Other ways to serve:

Short service: The shuttle should be hit to the centre line or the back boundary line.

High service: The shuttle should be hit high.

Clear: It should be a high and wide service.

Drop (fast): It should be a short steep service behind the net.

Drop (slow): A low and wide service.


Sports played with a shuttlecock and racquets probably developed in ancient Greece around 2000 years ago but are also mentioned in India and China.

An early ancestor of the game may have been the Chinese game of jianzi which involves using a shuttlecock but no racquet. Instead the object was manipulated with the feet. The object of the game is to keep the shuttlecock from touching the ground as long as possible without using the hands.

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Battledore and shuttlecock, an antecedent to the modern game of Badminton.
1854, from the John Leech Archive [1] (

In England since medieval times 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. It was popular enough to be a nuisance on the street of London in 1854 when the magazine Punch published this cartoon.

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.

The first official set of rules was written by the Bath Badminton Club in 1877. The Badminton Association of England was formed in 1893 and the first international championship took place in 1899 with the All England Championships.

Badminton became a popular sport in the world, primarily in East and Southeast Asia, which currently dominates the sport, and in the Scandinavian countries.

The International Badminton Federation (IBF) was established in 1934 and had England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Denmark, Holland, Canada, New Zealand and France as by founding members. India joined as an affiliate in 1936.

It became a Summer Olympic sport at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. Indonesia and Korea shared the gold medal with two each that year.


"Badminton- Schlagarten und Flugkurven aus: Badminton in der Schule. Eine Informationsmappe f?rer; Deutscher Badminton-verband e.V. (1. Auflage, M?m an der Ruhr, 1991) "

Cartoon taken from the John Leech Archive ( which gives the artist as John Leech and the date as 1854.

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