The sport of badminton that many know from childhood games in the backyard actually has its origins in ancient Greece. References to the game of battledore and shuttlecock can be found that date back 2,000 years.
In the mid 19th century badminton as we know it today began in Gloucestershire, England. The Duke of Beaufort called the game “badminton” after his ancestral home, Badminton House. Children in Gloucestershire and throughout England had been playing the game they called battledore and shuttlecock for years. In fact, the game had been around since the medieval days. The object was to use a paddle that was called a battledore to keep a shuttlecock, which at the time was a cork with feathers stuck in it, in the air for as long as possible.
The version of the game being played in England at this time had migrated to India before that and had made its way back to England. Because of this, until 1887 England played with the rules set in India. Then an organization called the Bath Badminton Club made a standard for the rules that were more in tuned with how the English felt the game should be played. In 1893 the game was officially introduced when the Badminton Association of England published these rules and regulations.
Popularity began to spread and the International Badminton Associated (IBF) was formed in 1934. Besides England, its original members were Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Denmark, France, Holland, Canada, and New Zealand. India joined four years later The IBF is now known as the Badminton World Federation (BWF) and is the official governing body for the sport. Today the Badminton World Federation has 164 member countries.
The game came to the United States in 1878 and the first badminton club was formed in New York. The game really began to take hold in the 1930s. The U.S. became members of the IBF in 1937. These days badminton is well liked in America but for many it is more familiar as a game played on the beach or in the backyard among friends and family.
At the Munich Olympics in 1972 badminton was launched as a demonstration sport only, but it was introduced as an Olympic medal sport in 1992 in Barcelona. But the 1996 Atlanta Olympics really began to spark interest in badminton in the United States. Since badminton has become an Olympic sport interest has grown throughout the world.
Even though badminton originated in England, the last several decades have seen it dominated by Asian countries and Denmark when it comes to winning major championships. Right now China is the strongest badminton country.