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What Is Badminton: The Detailed Beginner’s Guide

Badminton is a popular sport among a few select players. It is not as popular as some of the other indoor racquet sports. However, it is one of the most exhilarating sports that could improve your fitness and improve your hand-eye coordination. Since it is not as popular, many people have been asking;” What is badminton?”

What is badminton?

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Badminton might sound like one of the simplest sports and it has similarities to tennis. The goal of the game is to use racquets and hit a shuttlecock over a net that is set on the court. However, there are many smaller rules and intricacies that set it apart from tennis. For instance, the goal is to hit the shuttlecock before it hits the ground (much like volleyball), whereas, in tennis, the ball is allowed to bounce.

In the following article, we delve deeper into the history of badminton and how the game works. If you are a beginner, you should consider reading the guide to familiarize yourself with the rules and get some tips. Additionally, expert players can also find some valuable tips that they might not be aware of due to the constant evolution of badminton.

Badminton: A Brief History

Before we dive into some of the other features, you must understand some of the origins of the sport. To understand how badminton started as a sport, we have to look back at ancient Eurasia. The shuttlecock was used commonly around these times with different forms of rackets as early as the 18th Century.

Looking at modern badminton, we find that it originates from Britain and from a previous variant, which was named battledore and shuttlecock”. It is said that the game origins can be traced back to expatriate officers in British India. This is where the game picked up steam, even though it was played with a ball. Many referred to this version of badminton as ball badminton during the 1870s.

Later during the early 1875s, these officers returned to the United Kingdom, bringing with them the sport of badminton. The first shuttlecocks were made from rubber in India. They were designed in a variety of different weights, with some of them being weighed down with lead. Upon arrival, these officers quickly established that between one and four people can play the game on either side, but it was found that 2v2 and 4v4 turned out to be the best way to play the game.

For a more in-depth history of badminton, check out our comprehensive article:


From 19th Century Poona (India) to globally popular sport of the 21st Century

Badminton Rules: How They Have Evolved

Understanding badminton is all about the rules. While anyone can hit a shuttlecock over the net, it takes some time to understand the rules. If you look back into history, you will find that the rules have changed significantly over the last couple of years.

Up until 1887, the game was played under Pune rules. However, during this time Bath Badminton Club player, J. H. E. Hart drew up new rules for the game. These rules worked for a while until Hart and an associate revised the rules again in 1890. It was during 1893 that the Badminton Association of England (BAE) officially published these rules.

A shuttlecock laying in a play area.

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The first badminton competitions were held in 1899 and features doubles and mixed doubles competitions. Singles competitions were added in 1900 and the first official England-Ireland competition was held back in 1904.

Important Badminton Rules

Now that you have seen how the game has developed, you must understand these badminton rules. The rules have stayed the same since the International Badminton Federation took over in 1934. Nowadays, the game is governed by the BWF, and here are the basics of the game for you to get started:

Badminton Court

The first thing you need to understand is the badminton court. The court is a rectangular shape and it spans 44-feet in length. The width is 20-feet, but for singles games, the width is reduced the 17-feet. The rest of the court is divided into lines, with a service line that splits the width of the court to create a right and left side. The service line stops 6.6-feet from the net.

Around the outside of the net, you have boundaries, but when playing badminton doubles, the length of the service line and the boundaries are slightly extended. In doubles, a long service line is also marked on the court, which is 2.6-feet from the back boundary. Finally, the badminton net is around 5-feet high and it stretched the full width of the court.

Badminton Serving And Playing

Once you understand the layout of the court, you need to have a basic understanding of the game. There is no better way to master a game than to look at the rules. Here are some of the basic rules for playing the game after the badminton court is set up:

A player prepares to hit the shuttlecock with racket.

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1. Serving

The game will start when one player serves the shuttlecock the other. In doubles games, these are referred to as the server and the receiver. The shuttlecock must pass over the net or it will be seen as a fault. In the singles game, the server will stand in the right serving section if their score is even and in the left if the score is odd. Unlike tennis, the player that wins the rally gets to serve the next service.

2. Scoring

Every badminton game will go to a score of 21. The first person that reaches the score of 21 will win the game. However, if the scores are tied at 20 apiece, the game will continue until one person leads by two points e.g. 22-24. Regardless of whether you serve or not, if you win the rally, you will get the point, which is different from previous versions of the game.

To determine who will serve the first serve, the shuttlecock is thrown in the middle of the court and the side towards it is pointing gets the first serve. However, more professional competitions rely on the traditional coin toss and the player can decide if they want to serve first or not.

3. Lets

Lets might be a strange word, but when a “LET” is called, the game is immediately stopped without any change to the scoreboard. The game will be replayed with the same person serving that did before it was called. A LET is called if there is any disturbance, which includes the shuttle touching the roof if the ceiling is too low or any unnatural deviation that is not part of the original game.

Evolution Of Badminton Equipment

Nowadays, badminton equipment has evolved significantly. The first badminton racquets were very basic and they featured a wooden handle and frame. However, these racquets were extremely expensive to produce and they have been scrapped in the modern era. While metals like steel are still used for some of these budget racquets, most modern racquets are made from nanomaterials. Carbon fiber is probably the main material used for professional badminton rackets.

Shuttlecocks resting on a badminton racket.

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The strings have remained almost the same, with a few minor adjustments that have been made to make them more comfortable and tighten the strings. However, the tension level of the strings will be impacted by the game you play and your style. One of the other important factors is the grip. Generally, PU synthetic materials or rubber are used for the grips. However, you can improve the grip if you customize it.

A wooden racket and a plastic shuttlecock is shown.

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Finally, the Shuttlecock, which is also referred to as a birdie or shuttle is made in a conical shape. This badminton projectile is designed to travel with the cork first. Nowadays, the cork is often wrapped in thin synthetic leather and 16 feathers are embedded on the cork. Keep in mind that full-leather shuttles are available, but they are a bit more expensive.

Benefits Of Badminton

Many beginners have been asking what are the benefits of badminton and there are plenty, to be honest. Before you start playing badminton, you might want to compare it to other indoor sports like squash and table tennis. Here are some of the main benefits of playing badminton:

  • Improved Cardiovascular Fitness: Since badminton is a physical sport where you will need to move around, you will improve your fitness level.
  • Improved Muscle Strength: Since you are working out and moving around, you can improve the muscle strength of your lower body.
  • Improved Reflexes: Even though you have more time to hit the shuttle, things happen fairly quickly to improve reaction times
  • Improved Metal Agility: Contrary to popular belief, it is not about how hard you hit the shuttle. The game is like chess to outsmart your opponents, which forces you to think more.
  • Better Flexibility: This benefit ties into the improved muscle strength and you will have better flexibility when you move around.
  • Improved Social Skills: Unfortunately, badminton is not a sport that you can play on your own and this forces you to be social.

Obviously, there are many more benefits associated with badminton. However, beginners should notice these as some of the first benefits they are going to experience. All of these benefits culminate to stress reduction. Being more active is proven to help you improve your stress reduction abilities and improve coping.

Best Badminton Players In The World

For many of the beginners reading this article, the best players might not matter. However, when you are playing the game and you want to learn, it is better to learn from the best. If you want to study badminton rules or some of the tips, you can follow some of these players to see how they play the game:

1.      Lee Chong Wei

Lee Chong Wei is a Malaysian badminton player, who held the number one spot in the world from 2008 to 2012. He holds a couple of records and when it comes to the Olympics, he currently holds 3 silver medals won from the Olympics. He is also the first Malaysian player to rank in the Badminton rankings.

Lee Chong Wei celebrating his victory.
LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 05: Chong Wei Lee of Malaysia celebrates a point in his Men’s Singles Badminton Gold Medal match against Lin Dan of China on Day 9 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Wembley Arena on August 5, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

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2.      Chen Long

If you look at some of the latest rankings, you will find Chen Long is currently number two in the world. He is based in China and won the Olympic gold medal in 2016. Currently, he is one of the most dominating players in the world and many people like to use the same badminton shoes that he is using to improve their game.

Chen Long aims to hit the incoming shuttlecock.
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 17: Long Chen of China competes against Wan Ho Son of Korea during the Men’s Singles Quarterfinal Badminton match Day 12 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Riocentro – Pavilion 4 on August 17, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

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3.      Jan O Jorgensen

Jan O Jorgensen is one of the older players and he hails from Denmark. Denmark is well-known for producing some of the best players when it comes to indoor sports. He is known for winning the 2014 European Championships.

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Frequently Asked Questions

We hope that by now, you have a basic understanding of the game and you have all the knowledge that could help you excel. However, many people still have questions that pertain to badminton. We have identified a couple of these questions. You can look at some of these questions and find the answers if you might have had them:

what is badminton

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How To Serve In Badminton?

The game of badminton starts with one player serving the shuttle over the net. The server and the receiver are on opposite sides of the net and they have a diagonal line between them. Once the ball is served and returned, players have full reign of the court, but they need to stay in the boundary lines.

How To Grip A Badminton Racket

The grip you have on the racket will vary from player to player. While it is generally held in the strongest hand, some players manage to play using two hands. This is similar to what you will see in tennis with players having different styles.

How To Get Better At Badminton

Once you start the game of badminton, you will not be the best player. You might need to play a few games and lose to learn some tips and tricks. The only way to get better at badminton is to keep playing and study the game. Another benefit will be if you manage to improve your fitness level for longer rallies.

How To Find The Best Badminton Racket

The badminton racket is just as personal as your shoes. Every player has their racket and the racket will be custom to their needs. One of the first things to look for is balance. It should not be too heavy in your hands and you should be able to swing it comfortably. Next, make sure that you have a comfortable grip, which should also be durable.

How To Start Playing Badminton

When you start playing badminton, it is a fitness singles-type of game. You should start by asking some of your friends and family. However, if none of them likes to assist you, you could do a quick internet search for “Badminton near me”. The search should reveal a few social venues and even clubs that you can join to get started.


Badminton is one of the best games to start playing indoors. You can have so much fun when it comes to setting up the court and winning. It might take a little more practice than some other sports, but once you have the fitness, it should stick. Badminton is certainly a great game for experts and beginners, but even hobbyists can enjoy it.

I am Jean, a writer with a passion for outdoor life and sports. I have been playing indoor and outdoor sports for as long as I remember, being fortunate enough to play with some excellent equipment and learning from great tutors. Now, I have traded my equipment for a pen and paper, helping to encourage and educate your sports enthusiasts. I still play a few indoor sports games now and again, but my goal is to help bring more youngsters into the world of sports. More info on my LinkedIn profile -