The Progression of Badminton

The exciting game of badminton is a sport that is older than many countries in the world today. The predecessors and history of badminton actually date to British India in the mid-1700s.

Where It Started

Historians have traced the roots of badminton back to British India in the middle of the 18th century. British military officers stationed there invented a game similar to a traditional English game called battledore and shuttlecock.

badminton progression
badminton progression

By adding a net to it, they created a distinct game that grew in popularity in the town of Poona, where people simply called it “Poona.” After officers took it back to England, it was named badminton after the Duke of Beaufort’s home, Badminton House in Gloucestershire.

In England, players developed the rules of the game further. Players followed the same rules adhered to in India until 1887 when the Bath Badminton Club formed standardized rules. J.H.E. Hart and Bagnel Wild drew up these rules, which were first published in 1893. The first badminton competition was held in Buckingham Gate in 1899.

What It Became

The modern game of badminton was introduced in 1873 at the Badminton House in Gloucestershire. The game was initially called “The Game of Badminton”, and the name was later officially shortened to badminton.

The game was first played using the rules from British India. But in 1887 the Bath Badminton Club adapted and standardized the rules to English play.

The Badminton Association of England published the first authorized rules. The rules are following the regulations in 1893, which are similar to modern rules.

Because of windy or wet weather, balls of wool were originally used when playing early versions of badminton. But soon after, shuttlecocks proved to be more popular. Those British military officers who retired from serving in India then brought the game back with them when they returned to England. There was the time where the game was further developed and rules were outlined.

How It Grew

The world’s first badminton tournament, called the All England Open Badminton Championships, was established in 1899. In response to the international popularity of the game, the International Badminton Federation (IBF) was founded in 1934.

The founding countries of IBF were Canada, Denmark, England, France, the Netherlands, Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland, and Wales. India became an affiliate member in 1936. IBF later changed its name to the Badminton World Federation (BWF).

Currently, the BWF presides over badminton internationally and expands the sport to worldwide competition. In Europe, Denmark traditionally controls the sport. In other parts of the world, Indonesia, South Korea, China, and Malaysia regularly produce world-class players and dominate international-level challenges.

Over the course of the 20th century, more nations formed badminton clubs under the International Badminton Federation, including Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, India, New Zealand, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland. Now known as the Badminton World Federation, it currently holds 165 member associations.

Badminton in the Olympic Games

Badminton in the Olympic Games was introduced as a full medal sport in 1992 in Barcelona. The mixed doubles event was added in 1996 in Atlanta. This popular sport remains a regular Olympic sport to this day.

Badminton is a sport played with racquets and a net. As badminton continued to grow in popularity throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the International Olympic Committee decided to add it to the Summer Olympics as an official sport. With singles and doubles events for men and women, its Olympic debut in Barcelona was a success.


Qualifications are made by using the rankings list from The Badminton World Federation. Players or pairs are ranked and the top 16 places are automatically qualified, though only three pairs/players are sent from each National Olympic Committee. The remaining players are chosen from the top 64 spots, but each National Committee is limited to only two players ranked between 17th and 64th place.

If no competitor from a country ranks 64th or higher, then only the single highest ranked member of that country is eligible, though the host country receives two spaces in this scenario (two singles or one double). Each continent is required to have representation by at least one player or pair, with the highest ranked member of that continent selected. One spot for each of the singles events is determined by the Tripartite Commission.

The Game

Since its debut as an Olympic event in 1992, badminton has continued to grow as a sport. Over 50 countries have competed in the Olympic Games in badminton. China is the overall medal leader to date with 30 total medals. Indonesia is second with 18 total medals followed by South Korea with 17.

The events offered are men’s and women’s singles and doubles and mixed doubles. Singles host 29 players, while 19 pairs are chosen for doubles. Competitors play a single match of three games, each game worth 21 points. To win a game, the player or team must score either 30 points or finish the game two points higher than the other player or team. Rally scoring is used, meaning players do not need to serve in order to score.

The Olympic competition uses a qualifying round to determine who gets invited to the games. After this round, 29 total single competitors and 19 pairs of doubles teams get to compete in the games. The Olympic competition consists of a single-elimination tournament format; the winner of the best of three games wins the medal. A player or team wins by reaching 21 points first.

As badminton has grown, more countries are sending badminton teams to the Olympic Games. The next Olympic badminton competition is at the 2012 Summer Olympiad in London.

Badminton is relatively new as an Olympic Sport with an interesting qualifying process.

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