Badminton, a history

Games with feathered shuttlecocks and rackets have been played since the times of the ancient Greeks and Egyptians. The popular children’s pastime Battledore and Shuttlecock, played with a shuttlecock and two paddles, is a forerunner to the modern game of badminton.  In India, this pastime was adapted to include a net and was called ‘Poona’. During the 18th Century the game became very popular with British soldiers stationed in India, who are thought to have brought this adapted version of Battledore and Shuttlecock back to England. It was played at a party held at the estate of the Duke of Beaufort, Badminton House, Gloucester in 1873, hence the name of the sport.  The first Badminton Club was established in Bath in 1887, which was later replaced by the Badminton Association of England in 1893, which created clear rules and guidelines for competitive play. The first international match was England Vs Ireland in Dublin on January 31st 1903.

Since then, the sport became popular worldwide and Canada, New Zealand, Denmark, the Netherlands, and France also became pioneers in the sport. In 1934 the International Badminton Federation was established and badminton was played as a demonstration sport at the Olympics from 1972 and was included in the Olympic programme for the 1992 Barcelona Games in Spain.

Badminton will be included in the Paralympic Games for the first time ever in Tokyo 2020.

Badminton England

Image credit: Badminton England

How para badminton has evolved

Recently eye tracking systems have been developed and introduced in some parts of the world to help coaches monitor the eye movements of athletes to help improve their ability to track the shuttlecock and predict where shots will be. Hawk eye technology was introduced in elite badminton in 2014 at the Indian Open to make the game fairer and smarter through accurately tracking the movement of the shuttlecock and determining the decision on challenged calls.

Badminton rackets have come a long way since the first ones were made with wooden frames and strings made from natural animal gut. They have become increasingly lighter, with carbon fibre frames and synthetic strings which improve string tension. These developments alongside more aerodynamic shuttlecocks have improved the speed of the game.

With Tokyo 2020 heralding the entry of badminton into the Paralympic arena, it is hoped that para badminton will increase in popularity as a sport accessible for everyone, with increased partnerships and funding opportunities to help develop and promote the sport both nationally and internationally.

Rules of para badminton

Para badminton matches, like non-disabled badminton matches, consist of three games of 21 points with the winner being the side to win two of the three games. There are singles, doubles and mixed doubles events and three classification categories (sitting, standing upper and standing lower) that are further categorised into 6 classes according to the level of impairment. In sitting/wheelchair singles events only half of the court area is used and the athlete’s trunk must be in contact with the seat of the wheelchair when they hit the shuttlecock.

Governing bodies

Badminton England is the national governing body for para badminton in the UK.
The Badminton World Federation is the international governing body for para badminton.

Regional clubs

The British Paralympic Association has created an online directory, Parasport, where you can search for and find out about sport and physical activity in your area. England Badminton Players Association for Disabled (E.B.A.D) also has a wealth of information on clubs around the country that are accessible and cater for disabled players, visit their website for more information here.  For further information about Badminton England, visit their website here