What Is Badminton? 4 Things You Need to Know

People playing badminton

Competitive badminton isn’t a huge thing in America, so many people wonder, “What is badminton?”

Simply put, it’s a fast-paced racket game with a twist. Instead of a ball, there’s a special implement with feathery parts sticking out of it.

What is ​it good for? Well, it’s a popular backyard game in many parts of the world for a few reasons.

What Is Badminton?

Photo of a badminton and a shuttlecock

image source: Unsplash

Badminton is a sport and a popular backyard game where players use rackets to hit a small object known as a shuttle or shuttlecock. A proper game involves two or four people, but a casual game can accommodate greater or uneven numbers. It’s quite similar to tennis, but some elements have more in common with volleyball.

So, what is badminton’s distinguishing feature? That would be the shuttle, which fills the role that a ball would play in most racket games. Traditionally, they feature feathers, but modern ones usually have plastic mesh frames instead. One end has a small, rounded, bouncy hitting surface.

Then, what is badminton – a game or a sport? While it began as a recreational game, it’s a now proper sport and an Olympic discipline for decades.

What makes ​it such a great outdoor activity is mainly the simplicity. Practically any backyard can accommodate the game, and it’s very quick to set up and simple to play. Plus, it’s an inexpensive way to activate a whole family or group of kids.

If you need a fun activity for family get-togethers, neighborhood BBQs, or children’s parties – badminton is a great choice. Also, it’s a good way to make sure your kids get enough exercise.

The History of Badminton

What is badminton’s origin story? Well, the official rumor has it that it developed among British soldiers in India during the colonial era. They called it Poona, like the city where it originated. Similar games have existed in Europe and Asia for ages, dating back to ancient Greece and Egypt as well as Imperial China.

The English name for this older game is “Battledore and shuttlecock,” and badminton was originally “Badminton Shuttlecock.” This name derives from the Badminton House in Gloucestershire, England.

The people at the Duke of Beaufort’s residence had developed an advanced set of rules for the game. A London toy merchant named Isaac Spratt published a rule booklet in 1860 called “Badminton battledore – a new game.”

So, to answer the “what is badminton” question, we can summarize it as a compilation of new rules for an old and widespread battledore game. And “battledore” is an older word for “racket.”

The first official English tournament took place in 1899, after which it gained traction in Canada and the United States. It’s gained worldwide popularity since, and it’s part of the summer Olympics since 1992. Rules have changed slightly since then, but it’s the same general game.

What is badminton's distinct quality? Well, it’s among the fastest racket sports, and it’s one of the first major sports with mixed-gender teams. Singles competitions are always either male or female, but there are mixed doubles competitions as well as men’s and women’s ones.

What Equipment Do You Need to Play Badminton?

Photo of a badminton near a shuttlecock

image source: Pixabay

What is badminton without the right equipment? It’s impossible to play.

But what is badminton equipment, more specifically? You’ll need at least two rackets, a net, and some shuttles. That’s all you need for a casual game, but you may also want something to mark the edges of the badminton field.

If you’re wondering whether you can play badminton with other rackets, the answer is no. For example, tennis rackets are too bulky for this light and agile game.

Plus, a badminton racket requires specific levels of tension and elasticity. Otherwise, the kinetic energy won’t be suitable for the shuttle, which is vastly different from a ball. It’s a matter of badminton physics.

Materials differ, but household badminton rackets usually consist of aluminum or carbon fiber with nylon strings. You may also find wooden ones, but we don’t recommend them due to their lower performance.

Shuttle materials also differ, but ones for backyard use usually consist of a rubber “ball” with plastic “pens” that mimic the dynamics of feathers. Proper ones have a cork ball covered in leather, and some cheap ones use compressed paper.

We recommend this complete set of badminton stuff. However, for those who want a cheaper option, there’s also this one.

What’s a badminton field?

The field is the area where you play badminton. It consists of a track, a net, and a set of poles. The official measurement for the track is 13.30 by 5.18 meters.

Converted to freedom units, that’s approximately 43 feet 8 inches long and 17 feet wide. Of course, you can adjust the size to better fit your lawn or the size of the participants when you play at home. Doubles use a slightly wider field, officially 6.1 meters.

An easy way to outline your field is to use string. You can also mark the corners with cones.

Next, the net should be as wide as the field. To get it at the right height, you’ll want the poles at the height of 1.5 meters, or 4 feet 11. However, smaller children may benefit from a lower net.

How to Play

Photo of a kid holding a badminton

image source: Pixabay

Once you have everything set up, it’s time to play. Grab your rackets and take your spots on opposite sides of the net.

Next, you serve the ball. You’ll want to hit it with an upward motion to get it to the other side of the net. There’s no bouncing in badminton. When the shuttle touches the ground on one side of the net, the team on the other side gains a point.

When the shuttle comes your way, you send it back and try to make it impossible for your opponent to hit. If you land it outside the field or hit the net, your opponent gains a point. You can strike the shuttle in any direction you like, although you’ll want to stick with backhands when you’re in the rear of the field. Also, no player or team can hit the shuttle twice in a row; it must go back and forth.

Now you may be wondering: What is badminton all about?

The goal is to get 21 points, at which point you win the set. Win two sets, and you win the game.

There’s one caveat. If both sides have 20 points, you need to land two points in a row to win.

While this may sound like a lot to take in at first, it’s really simple. It’s also pretty easy, although it does take some speed and mobility. This makes it suitable for mixed groups, and it’s a game that grandparents can play with their grandchildren.

Badminton ​Rules

Photo of a shuttlecock

image source: Pixabay

What is badminton if you don't follow the basic rules? That would be a different game.

The International Badminton Federation has altered the official rules slightly in 2006 and 2016, so older badminton players may argue with you on the rules. However, the changes are very small.

Unlike tennis, badminton gives a point each round regardless of which side served the ball. This makes the game simpler and less drawn-out.

Games go up to three sets. If a team wins two in a row, there’s no third set.

What if both teams reach 20, and then the points just go back and forth so that nobody gains an advantage of 2 points? In this case, the first to reach 30 is the winner.

At the start of each round, every participant should return to the starting point. In a singles game, opponents must stand diagonally across from each other.

Another important rule concerns how to serve properly. You can’t hit it like a tennis player. In badminton, you must perform an underhand serve below your waist.

Is Badminton Good Exercise?

Badminton can definitely be a great form of exercise if you do it right. It’s a full-body exercise that requires a fair amount of aerobic endurance if you play an intense game. On the other hand, you can take it easy as well, and there aren’t many heavy movements. Therefore, the risk of injury is low.

Since you move in all directions, swinging your arms and sometimes jumping, you’ll tone and balance every part of your body. And the challenge increases gently as you and your playing partners develop.

Due to the fast nature of the game, it requires more movement than tennis. Therefore, it’s an efficient way to burn fat or release excess energy and stress. Since movement isn’t constant, you get some rest periods, which let you increase your overall endurance throughout the game.

So, another answer to “what is badminton” is that it’s a type of full-body interval training.

​Ready to Play?

Let's have a quick recap. What is badminton?

It's a fast-paced racket game with a rich history that's popular both in backyards and Olympic stadiums. What is badminton all about? Landing the shuttle in the opponent's field until you win to sets.

Now that you've read the whole thing, you know all the essentials of badminton. If someone asks you, “What is badminton?” you’ll have all the answers they need.

We hope that you’ll enjoy many games of badminton. It’s a game that almost anyone can play, and it doesn’t take much. Have fun!

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