Badminton is a sport played between two or four people on a court. The players use a racquet to hit a shuttlecock over a net.
Players or teams score points when the shuttlecock hits the floor on the opponent’s side of the net, provided the shuttlecock does not go out of bounds. The game was developed by British officers in India. It was later popularized in England, though now finds its greatest support in Asia, particularly in China, Korea, and Malaysia.
The first person or team to reach 21 points and hold a two-point advantage over their opponent wins the game; the first person or team to win two games (out of three) wins the match. This is different than when the sport was first being developed – originally, each game was played to 15 points, and only the team serving was eligible to score a point. If the serving team lost the volley, then the right to serve switched teams.
The sport badminton is most often compared to is tennis, and though they share some similarities, the sports are quite different. Badminton is a much faster game – shuttlecocks have been clocked in the past travelling at faster than 200 miles per hour. Badminton matches typically take significantly less time to complete than tennis matches as well.
Shuttlecocks can be either “natural” – with the trailing end made of goose or duck feathers, or “synthetic” – with a trailing end made of nylon or plastic. The synthetic version is most often used in North America when badminton is played for recreational purposes, but in Asia, as well as in all professional competitions, the natural version is used.
The two primary competitions in professional badminton are the Thomas Cup for men and the Uber Cup for women. Both tournaments are held every two years. More recognized among the world population is the Olympic badminton competition, which was held as a demonstration sport in 1972 and 1988, and became an official sport in 1992. The Badminton World Federation championship is also hotly contested.
In order to successfully compete on the global badminton stage, a participant must be in excellent physical condition. While recreational badminton played in the backyard does not require the same physical exertion as tennis or basketball, it has been claimed that professional badminton players are among the most physically fit athletes in the world. Aerobic ability, stamina, strength, and quickness are only some of the physical skills needed to succeed at competitive badminton.