Badminton is an ancient game that has been around for centuries. Over the years it has become one of the most popular sports in the world. With that being said, many people wonder how it all started and where does the game gets its name from? In simple words, badminton has a cosmopolitan history, which is quite rare amongst other sports. And England played a huge role in its modernization. However, that is not all. Let’s dig a bit deeper and see how the game has rapidly evolved
History and Growth of Badminton
Badminton in England was introduced around the 1600s. The people of England and other European countries used to pass time playing battledore and shuttlecock. The players used simple bats to hit the shuttlecock backward and forward without letting it touch the ground.
In British India, badminton was introduced in the mid-19th century by British military officers. They added a net to the traditional game. At the time, the game was very famous in the British garrison town of Poona. Afterward, it was renamed Poona or Poonah.
Although the wealthy people used to use woolen balls during rainy or windy weather conditions but eventually they shifted to shuttlecocks as well. Finally, the game was introduced to the Duke of Beaufort guests as “Badminton” and this is where the game got its name.
The year 1877 saw the establishment of the Bath Badminton Club. This club is credited for introducing the first rules of the game. Then, in 1893 in England, the first badminton association was formed. Until 1934, this association worked as a world federation.
In 1934, the International Badminton Federation was formed. The federation’s nine founding members belong to Holland, Ireland, Wales, and Denmark, etc.
In 1948, the first IBF tournament was held. The Thomas Cup was also known as the World Men’s Team Championships. Following the event, several others followed such as the Uber Cup, World Championships, and World Junior Championships.
The year 1972 witnessed Badminton receiving perhaps its biggest break at the Munich Olympics. After that, in 1992, it became a new Olympic sport played in Barcelona. At the time, both singles and doubles were introduced in the Olympic games. Then, in 1996 mixed doubles were introduced and played at Atlanta Olympic Games.
Change of Rules
Since the origins of badminton exist in England, the first tournaments held were played under the 1890 rules of the Badminton Association of England. Perhaps the most significant change was the way the scoring system was modified. Back in the day, badminton operated on “sideout” scoring in a best of 3 games to 15 points, matches.
The sideout rule means that only the side that is serving may score a point. Additionally, in double matches, each player of a pair would get to serve before passing the service to opponents. In 2002, the Badminton World Federation experimented by changing the scoring system to 5 games and 7 points format. This was done to reduce the playtime of lengthy matches. However, it was scrapped as quickly as it was introduced.
The year 2005 saw the introduction of the modern scoring system. The sideout serving rule was replaced by a rally scoring model which allows either side to win a point regardless of which side is serving. In addition to that, the new format extended the points to 21 while maintaining that either side must win by a margin of atleast 2 points if the scores equal 20-20.
In 2018, a change was made to the scoring system, which now included 5 games of 11 points each to shorten the games and make them more exciting.
The History of Badminton Racquets
The first badminton racquets featured a simple wooden frame. These racquets were neither flexible nor lightweight. As the game became popular and professional players joined, they began using lighter racquets made of aluminum or steel. Then, in the 1950s the revolution of carbon fibres changed the way rackets were made all around. Modern badminton racquets offer both flexibility and strength at very low weights. Additionally, carbon fiber racquets also allow for great control and power.
When it comes to the development of badminton racquets as a whole, nothing surpasses the introduction and evolution of strings. The first racquets featured strings made from animal gut strings. Although natural gut strings are still used but nylon strings tend to be more common.
Thanks to technological advancement, nylon strings have become both cheap and versatile. To cater to the needs and preferences of the individual players, a wide variety of different nylon strings are used.
The oval-shaped rackets have been in use since the development of modern badminton game. Even though oval-shaped rackets are still used but several other developments have surfaced, paving the way for new racket head shapes. For instance, diamond, isometric and teardrop racket heads have been developed for a variety of reasons.
The racket handle is the most important part of a badminton racket. It is designed to offer maximum comfort and grip. However, the first wooden rackets featured bare handles. To achieve comfort, the players would wrap a cloth or other materials around the handle but the performance would then be compromised. Modern players soon found a solution for it. Modern synthetic materials such as elastic grips can be easily wrapped around the handles to increase comfort and grip.
The history of badminton is both interesting and fascinating. Not many people are aware that it was introduced centuries ago. With time, developments and significant changes helped make the sport popular. Today, it is played both indoors and outdoors with professional players competing in Olympics, World Championships, and many other global tournaments.