History of Badminton – Where did Badminton Originate?

How many calories can be burnt in a game of badminton?

It’s quite a thing that so many people know about the sport Badminton, or at least know the name, but do not in fact know how the game is played or what the history of Badminton is. Here’s more about badminton, where it originated, the countries where it is majorly played and its history through the years.

What is the Origin of Badminton?

Badminton is an ancient sport that was played in Asia, India and China, and Europe more than 2000 years ago. Originally it was played with what was known as a battledor and shuttlecock which gave it, its name then before a net was introduced for its play in India in mid-1800s.

Of course the game of badminton has changed a fair amount since then and the equipment has become a little more sophisticated, but the premise remains the same. Two or four people, a badminton court with a net, badminton rackets or paddles and a shuttlecock or ball.

In India, badminton was known as Poonaor Poonah, and the official badminton rules were drawn up in Pune, India, in 1873.

It took another 100 years for badminton to be introduced at the Olympic Games as a demonstration sport, and thereafter another 20 for it to be a recognized Olympic sport. Today badminton is played worldwide but it is important to remember the history of badminton and its origin.

Let’s look at the old names for Badminton

  • Battledor
  • Shuttlecock
  • Poonaor Poonah or Poonah

Battledor was one of the older names for Badminton and it literally means Bat or Paddle.

In ancient times a battledore was a wooden paddle that was used for washing clothes, as well as for beating or stirring. Clearly the implementation was adapted so that it could be used for the sport. Battledor was one of the original English names for badminton and today a Battledor is known as a badminton racket.

A shuttlecock is a ball, and this name is still used today. It is made up of a cork which has feathers attached to it, forming a cone shape.

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Today a shuttlecock is made of plastic, although in the olden days it was made from cork and real feathers.

A shuttlecock is light enough to be hit with a racket (bat) and to easily be airborne and stay airborne. A shuttlecock is much lighter than a tennis ball.

Poonaor Poonah, or just Poonah as mentioned above, was the original game given to badminton in India, in the city of Pune.

It was a game that was played and enjoyed by British army officers stationed in India, which is how it is thought to have spread to England. One can almost imagine the British soldiers, all very smart and colonial, playing Badminton in India.

They would play on the grass, in front of gorgeous heritage homes or palaces, wearing their full army regalia. The name Badminton was eventually settled on as the game became more widely played in England.

Although the origin of Badminton is not England, the name is English. The Duke of Beaufort lived in Gloucestershire and the sport took its name from Badminton House where the game was first played. Today, Gloucestershire is the home of the International Badminton Federation, formed in 1934, a Federation that is almost 100 years old.

It is interesting to note that while Badminton, Battledor, was played in Ancient Greece and China, much of the history of badminton is attributed to India and the British Army officers who played in India, bringing the sport back to England.

The game was initially one played by the more upper-class English people, remembering that the English were very much governed by class, but today Badminton is a sport for all people.

The Badminton World Federation

The Badminton World Federation or the BWF is the international governing body for badminton around the world. Known as the International Badminton Federation when it was started out in 1934, initial nine members were:

  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • France
  • England
  • Ireland
  • New Zealand
  • Scotland
  • The Netherlands
  • Wales

In 1938 the United States joined the IBF, becoming the 10th member of the Federation, and thereafter the sport grew, the popularity of the sport grew and today there are 193 members. Badminton is a sport that is played widely all around the world, and is right up there with football, cricket and tennis.

Today it has more than 170 member countries as a part of the Badminton World Federation.

In the USA, badminton was always seen as a fun game, a game that could be played in the garden, on the beach or in the park.

Although professional badminton is played on a badminton court, a badminton court for fun and recreation can be set up anywhere. Informally, the game just needs a net. It is a game where each player has a bat, racket or paddle, they have a shuttlecock, and they hit to one another, over the net, as often as they can until one person makes a mistake.

Badminton is a game that you will see being played, just like I have now, while walking my dogs in the park. There are badminton courts all over the USA, indoor and outdoor courts, and all around the world, but it is an easy game to play on a leisurely basis too.

Given that badminton is a game that is 2000 or so odd years old, it is a game that is not going away.

We think people love it because it is accessible, available for the whole family, provides good exercise and lots of laughs, is great for math as you count the long, long rallies, and can be played anywhere, in any weather, including in your living room if it’s big enough.

Recreational play doesn’t particularly need one have great ball skills for badminton – the shape and design of the shuttlecock make it quite easy for a player to keep the ball in the air – but if you are playing professionally, of course you need a lot more.

Badminton is widely played today in sports clubs and at colleges, there are very serious badminton leagues, you will find badminton tournaments and championships in almost all countries, and of course, there is badminton at the Olympics.

Badminton in Olympics

In the 1972 Munich Olympics, badminton was played as a demonstration sport. However, it made its Olympics debut only in 1992, where it was played as men’s and women’s singles and doubles and mixed doubles events. China has been the leader of the pack, having won a total of 41 badminton medals between 1992 and 2016, ahead of Indonesia who have only 19. Great Britain have just three medals to their name in that period.

International Badminton Tournaments

The Badminton World Federation organises badminton tournaments across the world, dividing them into different grades depending on the ranking points and prize money on offer.

At the Grade 1 level, the Olympics, World Championships, World Junior Championships, Para-Badminton World Championships, Thomas Cup, Uber Cup and Sudirman Cup along with the World Senior Championships are organised by the BWF.

Grade 2 tournaments are a part of the BWF World Tour and tournaments are further divided into six different levels, including the : BWF World Tour Finals, BWF World Tour Super 1000, BWF World Tour Super 750, BWF World Tour Super 500, BWF World Tour Super 300 and BWF Tour Super 100.

The Grade 3 level has the International Challenge, International Series and Future Series tournaments.

Stan Boone

I am the editor of Racket Sports World. I love my tennis, pickleball and most of the other racket sports played around the world and started this blog as my way to help other racquet sports fans even as I learn, explore and improve by connecting with them. Tweet at https://twitter.com/StanBooneTennis.

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