Article: Badminton

This article is about the racket sport badminton. For other uses of the name, see Badminton (disambiguation).
The Danish Olympic badminton player Peter Gade

Badminton is a racquet sport played by either two opposing players (singles) or two opposing pairs (doubles). Each player or pair takes position on each ends of a rectangular court with floor markings to play a match.

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. Each server is awarded one point for the player or pair who wins the rally. The player or pair who reach 21 points first (if no tiebreak) will win the game, and a match winner is decided if they win 2 of 3 games.

General Description

Players at opposite ends of the court aim to hit a shuttlecock, more informally called a shuttle, bird or 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 rally ends as soon as it touches the ground. Shuttles are made either from feathers or nylon. Badminton racquets have long shafts, 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 racquet sport in the world with shuttles reaching speeds of up to 200 mph. [1] Simon Archer set the shuttlecock speed in the Guinness World Records of 162 mph In 1997. [2] Badminton champion Fu Haifeng of China set the official world smash record on June 3, 2005 in Sudirman Cup with the speed measured at 332 km/h or 206 mph, faster than the Eurostar train. Kenneth Jonassen recorded the fastest smash in singles competition at 298 km/h (185 mph). [3].

Badminton is often compared to tennis. The rallies of each point tend to be much longer in badminton than in tennis. The game can be physically more tiring than tennis as the time between shots can be much longer. When a shot is played in tennis the whole of the arm is used in one sweeping action, whereas in badminton a wide range of motions is employed, from delicate flicks of wrist and pressing of fingers to full-body smashes and clears. 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.

There are typically five events in the badminton: men's singles, women's singles, men's doubles, women's doubles and mixed doubles (each pair is composed of a man and a woman). There are different tactics for singles and doubles.

History and development

Although no one really knows who invented badminton, it is widely believed to have originated in ancient Greece about 2000 years ago. From there it spread to China, India, Japan and Siam (now Thailand). [4] 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.

Battledore and shuttlecock, an antecedent to the modern game of Badminton. 1854, from the John Leech Archive [5]

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 the cartoon.

In the 1860s, British Army officers in Pune, India, began playing the game of battledore and shuttlecock, but they added a competitive element by including a net and badminton was invented. As the city of Pune was formerly known as Poona, the game was known as Poona at that time.

About this same time, the Duke of Beaufort was entertaining soldiers at his estate called ‘Badminton House’, where the soldiers played Poona. The Duke of Beaufort’s non-military guests began referring to the game as ‘the badminton game’, and thus the game became known as "badminton".

In 1877, the first badminton club in the world, Bath Badminton Club[6], transcribed the rules of badminton for the first time. However in 1893, the Badminton Association of England published the first proper set of rules, similar to that of today, and officially launched badminton in a house called 'Dunbar' at 6 Waverley Grove, Portsmouth, England on September 13 of that year. [7] They also started the All England Open Badminton Championships, the first badminton competition in the world, in 1899.

The International Badminton Federation (IBF) was established in 1934 with Canada, Denmark, England, France, the Netherlands, Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland, and Wales as its founding members. India joined as an affiliate in 1936. It purpose is to take over the management of badminton and develop the sport globally. [8]

Today, 152 nations around the world are IBF members and over 100 tournaments are held every year. The IBF also has two training centres in Sofia and Saarbrücken. [9] Unlike soccer, there are no restrictions on migration; players may represent any country, regardless of any previous commitments. Therefore, many unpopular players from China and Indonesia have migrated to countries in which badminton is not so popular to get regular places.

Scoring system development

The traditional scoring system in badminton history involves 15 points. In this system, only the player or pair currently serving can score a point. If the non-serving team wins the rally, no point is scored, but the service simply goes back to their side.

In singles, players start serving based on their points. If the point is an odd number, they will serve in the left of the ends and the reverse if the number is even. In doubles, there are two services in a row for each pair (except the first service of the game), turns are taken serving before the serve switches back to their opponents. The player on the right of the ends serving side always begins the serving. The first side to reach 15 points (or 11 for women's singles) is the winner.

In 1992, IBF introduced new rules: setting at 13-all and 14-all. That mean if the player or pair tie at 13-13 or 14-14 (9-9 or 10-10 for women's singles), the player or pair to reach that score first can decide whether to play to 17 (or to 13 for the women) or called "setting". The player or pair to win 2 games first is declares as the match winner. [10] There are 5 minutes intervals between the second and third games.

This system was in use until 2002, but the IBF felt that the match time was too long and not entertaining. Also to commercialize the sport, they decided to change to a 5 games, 7 points scoring system. There are only slight changes in this system, the scoring is shortened to 7 points but 5 sets are played. The rules are still same as the traditional 15 points system. The game can be "setting" when the score is 6-6 to play until 8. In this sytem, the player or pair who wins 3 games first is declared as the match winner. Players or pairs can rest upto 90 seconds if allowed by the umpire. [11]

Once again the match time became a big issue, as the playing time for 5 games 7 points scoring system is almost equal to the traditional scoring system. This system was abandoned later and replaced by modified traditional scoring system, except mixed doubles which play in 3 games 11 points (later also replaced by traditional scoring system). Commonwealth Games became the last event to played in this system. They is a slight adjustment, only setting at 14-all if the games tie at 14-14 (women's singles is 10-all).

In December 2005 the IBF started an experimental scoring system for IBF events with their goal to shorten the playing time, the first to do so was the World Cup in China. The new system incorporates rally point scoring; every serves allocates points. Under the new system games are played to 21 points. A difference of 2 points is needed if the game is setting at 20-all, up until 29-29, the first player or pair to reach 30 wins. In doubles there is no second server anymore under the new system. When the serving pair loses a rally the serve passes immediately to the opponent. The pair will serve the shuttlecock like singles rules which base to their points. Pairs only switch service courts when they win a point while serving.

Besides the new scoring system the experiment also involves a rule change concerning breaks during a match. When a side reaches 11 points, both sides get a 60 second break. Between the first and second game, as well as between second and third game, players receive a 2 minute break.

The experiment ended in May 2006, and the IBF General Meeting has decided that the rules of the experiment will become permanent as of August 2006. [12]

The Laws of the Game

Playing court

Badminton court, isomorphic view

Badminton courts have different dimensions for different modes of play and the courts are always in the shape of an oblong. For doubles, this is 6.10 metres (20 feet) wide by 13.40 metres (44 feet) long. This is reduced to 11.88 metres (39 feet) long, or an area of 0.762 metres (2.5 feet) inside the back boundary line, when a pair serves the shuttle. For singles competitions, the width of the court is set to 5.18 metres (17 feet) but the length remains the same. In the middle of the court there is a net, which is 1.55 metres (5 feet) high. The short service lines, which delimit the area from which players can serve, are located 1.98 meters (6 feet, 6 inch) away from the net. The centre line divides the left and right service courts. Usually, the lines marking the court are white. [13]


The shuttlecock and racquet are the two pieces of equipments required under the laws of badminton. A feather shuttlecock should have 16 feathers fixed in the base, each between 62-70 mm long. The feathers should circle with diameter between 58-68 mm and the base should be rounded, 25-28 mm in diameter. One shuttlecock should normally weigh between 4.74-5.5 grams. This measurement also applies to nylon shuttlecocks. The racquets must not be longer than 680mm or wider than 230mm; for stinged area, it should not exceed 280mm long and 220mm wide.

Playing rules

Playing rules are based on the new rally scoring system which some old rules still retain by IBF. For example, at the start of a match, a coin is tossed. The side that wins the toss may choose whether to serve first, or which end of the court to play on. The other side exercises the other choice. In less formal settings, the shuttle may be hit into the air to determine which side chooses between side and serve; the side the shuttle points to makes the decision, however this format is not used in international competitions.

Faults: There are faults in badminton, the most common being when service is not correct; the service hitting twice by a player or a pair; touching the ceiling, player's dress; racquet touches the net; and shouting or make gesture on opponent. One normal situation sometimes considered a fault is when player fails to return the shuttle before it hits the floor, or when they return it so that it lands outside the boundary lines of court. When players commit a fault, they lose the rally and return service to the opponent.

Lets: Let is a called by an umpire or player to halt play, if this occur the rally is restarted and no point will be counted in the last service. Lets are rare in professional play; they occur whenever some unexpected circumstance arises that interferes with the rally. A let is called if the receiver is not ready; both faulted during services; the shuttle passes over the net and then becomes entangled in the net (except on service, when this is deemed a fault); or when a linejudge is unsighted and the umpire unable to take any decision.

Service: The service cannot cause undue delay once both side are ready. A player should not serve when the receiver is not ready. The serve must be in an upward direction, to land in the diagonally opposite service court. At the moment of impact on service, the shuttle must be below the waist, and the whole of the racket head must be below the hand holding the racket. There is no "let" on service if the shuttle hits the tape.

Service court error: A service court error can only be called when a player serves or receives in the wrong service court. It shall be corrected but the existing score will stand. [14]


Misconduct may occur at anytime, but in badminton they do not occur often. Nowadays, umpire are allowing to show penalty cards to the player. They are three types of cards, coloured yellow, red and black. Unlike soccer, they have different functions. Player receiving a first warning will be shown a yellow card. For a second warning, the player will shown a red card and the opponent receives a point, at the same time they will have to return the service. Umpires may disqualify a player anytime: a black card will be shown and player will have to leave the court immediately. [15]


See also: Shuttlecock
Badminton racquets

Racquet: a racquet is a vital piece of equipment in badminton. Traditionally racquets were made of wood. Later on, aluminium or other light metals became the material of choice. Badminton racquets are composed of carbon fiber composite (graphite reinforced plastic), with titanium composites (nanocarbon) added as extra ingredients. Carbon fiber has an excellent strength to weight ratio, is stiff, and gives excellent kinetic energy transfer. They are two types of racquet: isometric (square) and oval. Racquets normally weigh between 80-95 g but weight differs between manufacturers, as it can effect how fast racquet can swing.

A shuttlecock with a plastic skirt
Shuttlecocks with feather skirts

Grip: grip is the interface between the player's hand and the racquet. Type, size and thickness are three characteristics that effect the choice of grip. There are two types of grips: synthetic and towel. Synthetic grips are less messy and provide excellent friction. Towel grips are usually preferred as they are usually more comfortable and absorbent of sweat. Both have disadvantages as sythentic grips can deteriorate if too much sweat is absorbed and towel grips need to be changed often.

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 30 lbf (80 to 130 newtons) of tension. Racquets strung at lower tensions (18 to 21 lbf or 80 to 95 N) generate greater power while racquets strung at higher tensions provide greater control (21 lbf, over 95 N). Simply, a higher tension rewards hard hitting, while it robs power from a light hitter. Conversely, a lower tensioned string helps light hitter with a better timed trampoline effect.

Shuttlecock: a shuttlecock has an open conical shape, with a rounded head at the apex of the cone, they are made of cork and overlapped by sixteen goose feathers. There are different speeds and weights, but for easy classification, 75 is regarded as slow and 79 is the fastest shuttlecock. [16] The feather shuttle is fairly brittle and thus for economical reasons this has been replaced by the use of a plastic (usually nylon) or rubber head and a plastic (usually nylon) skirt for practice use.

Shoes: because acceleration across the court is so important, players need excellent grip with the floor at all times. Badminton shoes need a gummy soles for good grip, reinforced side walls (lateral support) for durability during drags, and shock dispersion technology for jumping; badminton places a lot of stress on the knees and ankles. Like most sports shoes, they are also light weight. They have a thin but well supported sole with good lateral support to keep the player’s feet close to the ground, allowing for speed and ankle bending directional changes with lower chance of injury; light weight for faster foot movement. [17]


To win in badminton, players need to employ a wide variety of strokes in the right situations. These range from extraordinarily powerful jumping smashes to soft, delicate tumbling net returns. The smash is a powerful overhead stroke played steeply downwards into the middle or rear of the opponents' court; it is similar to a tennis serve, but much faster: the shuttlecock can travel at 300km/h (186 mph). This is a very effective stroke, and pleases the crowds, but smashing is only one part of the game. Often rallies finish with a smash, but setting up the smash requires subtler strokes. For example, a netshot can force the opponent to lift the shuttle, which gives an opportunity to smash. If the netshot is tight and tumbling, then the opponent's lift will not reach the back of the court, which makes the subsequent smash much harder to return.

Deception is also important. Expert players make the preparation for many different strokes look identical, so that their opponents cannot guess which stroke will be played. For many strokes, the shuttlecock can be sliced to change its direction; this allows a player to move his racket in a different direction to the trajectory of the shuttlecock. If an opponent tries to anticipate the stroke, he will move in the wrong direction and may be unable to change his body momentum in time to reach the shuttlecock. In badminton you use your wrist a lot and pressing of fingers to a full-body smashes and clears.

Doubles: In doubles, each side has two players. Both sides will try to gain and maintain the attack, hitting downwards as much as possible. Usually one player will strive to stay at the back of the court and the other at the front, which is an optimal attacking position: the back player will smash and occasionally drop the shuttlecock to the net, and the front player will try to intercept any flat returns or returns to the net. Typical play involves hitting the shuttle in a trajectory as low and flat as possible, to avoid giving away the attack. A side that hits a high shot must prepare for a smash and retreat to a side-by-side defensive position, with each player covering half of the court. 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. Doubles is a game of speed, aggression, and agility.

A mixed doubles game. Scottish Schools mixed doubles under 12s tournament - Tranant (near Edinburgh), May 2002

Singles: Players will serve high to the far back end of the court, although at the international level low serves are now frequently used as well. The singles court is narrower than the doubles court, but the same length. Since one person needs to cover the entire court, singles tactics are based on forcing the opponent to move as much as possible; this means that singles shots are normally directed to the corners of the court. The depth of the court is exploited by combining clears (high shots to the back) with drops (soft downwards shots to the front). 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. At high levels of play, singles demands extraordinary fitness. It is a game of patient tactical play, unlike the all-out aggression of doubles.

Mixed doubles: In this discipline, a man and a woman play as a doubles pair. Mixed doubles is similar to "level" doubles (where pairs are of the same gender. In mixed doubles, both pairs try to maintain an attacking formation with the woman at the front and the man at the back. This is because the male players are substantially stronger, and can therefore produce more powerful smashes. As a result, mixed doubles requires greater tactical awareness and subtler positional play. Clever opponents will try to reverse the ideal position, by forcing the woman towards the back or the man towards the front. In order to protect against this danger, mixed players must be careful and systematic in their shot selection. [18]


There are many types of shots in badminton, the most basic of which are described as follows:

Clear: Hit overhead from the backcourt to the opponents backcourt. The aim is to hit the shuttle up. It is useful for producing time for the player, so that he can recover more easily. Used stragetically to push the opponent backwards. Simple, a high clear is for defensive and flat clear is for offensive.

Drive: Hit in front or on the side of the body, aiming to keep the shuttle low but going to the backcourt.

Drop shot or Netdrop: Hit overhead from the backcourt to the opponents forecourt. The aim is to make the shuttle just pass the net. Stragetically used to bring the opponent foreward.

Netshot: Hit in front of the body near the net. The aim is to hit the shuttle just past the net . Used to bring the opponent to the forecourt.

Smash: A primary attacking stroke use in badminton. It hit overhead from anywhere behind the forecourt. The aim is to hit the shuttle down as hard and fast as possible, as it clearly wins the rally if the shuttle touches the floor.

Wood shot: Shot that hit the base of shuttlecock by racquet's frame, it became legal since 1963.

Governing bodies

The International Badminton Federation (IBF) is the internationally recognised governing body of the sport. The IBF headquarters are currently located in Kuala Lumpur.

Five regional confederations are associated with the IBF:

  • Asia: Asian Badminton Confederation (ABC)
  • Africa: Africa Badminton Federation (ABF)
  • Americas: Pan American Badminton Confederation (North America and South America belong to the same confederation; PABC)
  • Europe: European Badminton Union (EBU)
  • Oceania: Oceania Badminton Confederation (OBC)


There are several international competitions organised by the IBF. The Thomas Cup, a men's event, and the Uber Cup, a women's event, are the most important ones. The competitions take place once in two years. More than 50 national teams compete in qualifying tournaments within the scope of continental confederations for a place in the finals. The final tournament now involves 12 teams after an increase in 2004 (8 teams).

The Sudirman Cup is a mixed team event which is hosted once in two years starting from 1989. It is divide into seven group based on the performance of each country. Only the group that comes out best can win the event. The goal of competition is to see the balance between the performances of men's badminton and women's badminton. Like soccer, it features the promotion and relegation system in every group.

In the individual competitions, badminton became a Summer Olympics sport at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. Before that, it was a demonstration event in the 1972 and 1988 Summer Olympics. Only the 32 best badminton players in the world can participate in the competition based on their IBF ranking and each country can only allow three players to take part. The IBF World Championships is another event for players to show their true abilities. Only the best 64 players in the world, and a maximum of 3 from each country, can participate in any category.

In the regional events of each continent, only the competitions in Asia and Europe are paid attention to by the media because of their strong performances at the international level. The Asian Badminton Championships (open for Asia players) and the European Badminton Championships (open for European players) are the two major regional events in the world.

They are over 100 competitions across the globe open to badminton players around the world. To assign the class of the tournament, IBF gives class A rank to the lower class of a competition and class 4-7 as the highest class. Usually, competitions held in Asia or Europe will get the highest class and will attract the best badminton players. There are few top class tournament like the All England Open Badminton Championships, Indonesian Open, and the China Open.