The History of Badminton

Badminton is a sport involving racquets and shuttlecocks, that have to be hit over a net, similar to tennis. The sport is played in every major part of the world and has gained increasing popularity over the decades. The long history of badminton dates back hundreds of years and there have been many changes in the rules, the playing objects, the styles of play and the geographical emergence of new talent.

The modern-day version of badminton was developed around two hundred years ago. Since then, the game has become a part of the Olympic games and a popular sport played on an amateur and professional level in mostly Europe and Asia, although it does have a following in other places around the world. The history of badminton reaches further back than its modern-day equivalent however, with influences from older sports way before it became hugely popular in British India in the 1870s.

Badminton is a variant of an earlier game called battledore and shuttlecock (battledore being an old-fashioned term to what is now referred to as a racquet.), although its exact origin is not clear. The sport found its name after the Duke of Beaufort's Badminton House in Gloucestershire, England. A booklet entitled, "Badminton Battledore" by Isaac Spratt is the earliest record of the sport but there are no surviving copies existing today. An article was also published in 1863 by The Cornhill Magazine, which described the sport as "battledore and shuttlecock but played with sides across a net suspended about five feet above the ground". It became popular in British India, and it would be played very similarly, the one key difference being they used a woollen ball instead of a shuttlecock in play. When officers returned in 1875, they opened a club in Folkestone, Kent in England. The number of players ranged from one to four in the earlier history of badminton but it was soon agreed that two to four players provided the more enjoyable experience.

The game was named Poona, sometimes spelt as Poonah, in relation to the town Pune in its infancy, and that is where the first official rules of the sport came into play. The net, although sometimes differed in length, was preferred to reach the ground and the shuttlecock was coated with Indian rubber and sometimes if the game was taking place outside, the shuttlecock would also be weighted with lead. The Pune rules applied until 1887, when the rules were revised by the Badminton Club of Bath. There were a few more changes to the rules made in 1890, and in 1893, the rules were published by the Badminton Association of England and officially launched in Portsmouth at Dunbar house on September 13th.

The first official badminton competition started by the BAE was called the All England Open Badminton Competition. It took place in 1899 and contained three different doubles formats: men doubles, women doubles and mixed doubles. A year later, singles competitions soon followed and in 1904 a championship match took place between England and Ireland. This helped the Badminton Association of England solidify the sport and it growed substantially over the next few decades.

In 1934, the International Badminton Federation was founded by several European countries, including the United Kingdom, France and Netherlands, as well as New Zealand. The IBF has since changed its name to the Badminton World Federation, with the addition of India as an affiliate and in later years, the rise of other countries dominating the sport such as China, India, Denmark, Malaysia, Indonesia and South Korea. Even though the singles game started in England, over the years, it was actually Denmark who dominated European competitions. In the modern game, China has the highest number of world class players in both the men and women's competitions, although Denmark as well as other Asian countries have produced a considerable amount of world class players too.

In today's game, there are five major Badminton confederations that are associated with the Badminton World Federation. The Badminton Asia Confederation, the Badminton Confederation of Africa, Badminton Pan Am, Badminton Europe and Badminton Oceania. There are several international competitions organized by the BWF, including the Thomas Cup for men, and the Uber Cup for women. The competitions take place every two years with fifty national teams in qualifiers and twelve teams in the finals, which was a change in the rules as before 2008, only eight teams qualified for the finals

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