Badminton is the fastest of all the racket sports; a shuttle can travel up to 200 mph. Elite players must be agile, powerful and fast; they can run up to a mile during a badminton match. The equipment needed to play badminton in a tournament or in your backyard can vary based on the materials. All badminton equipment is lightweight; the power of the game stems from the players' abilities.
Badminton evolved from a children's game known as battledore and shuttlecock. The original game was played without a net; the main objective was to volley a shuttlecock in the air between players using battledores, or paddles. Battledore and shuttlecock was not played competitively; it was a cooperative to see how long a group of players could keep the shuttlecock in the air. The original game evolved to a game played by India called poona. British soldiers brought poona to England, where the modern game of backgammon developed.
The five main categories of badminton play are men's singles, women's singles, men's doubles, women's doubles and mixed doubles. To play badminton, opposing singles players or doubles teams stand on either side of a badminton net. Players rally one shuttlecock over the net using a racket. Rally is the badminton term for volleying a shuttlecock across the net until it hits the ground. The goal is to land the shuttlecock in the marked boundaries on the opposing side of the net. One point is earned by the side that wins the rally. A badminton game scores to 21 points. Badminton matches are the best-of-three games.
Badminton courts measure 44 feet long by 20 feet wide with a center net line separation that creates a 22-feet-long by 20-feet-wide area on each side. Badminton courts have boundary lines marking the 44-feet-long by 20-feet-wide outline; these lines are the long service lines for singles play and the sidelines for doubles play. Single side lines are marked 1 1/2 feet from the doubles sideline, or outer boundary line. Lines on the court marked 6 1/2 feet from the center line are the short service lines. A center line running from the short service line to the back boundary line separates the left and right sides of the court.
A badminton net is 2 1/2-feet deep and is raised 5 feet high across the center of the badminton court, over the net line. Often made from vinyl mesh, most nets have a leather or cotton top. At the beginning of the badminton game and whenever the server's score is an even number, servers serve the shuttle over the net to the opposing player from the right side of the court. Servers serve the shuttle over the net from the left side of the court when their score is an odd number. Servers serve from the opposite side of their court when they win a rally and a point. Doubles badminton play observe the same serving rules as singles badminton play with the exception of passing the serve. Serves pass consecutively to players opposite each other on the badminton court.
Shuttlecocks, or shuttles, are the item volleyed across the net during a badminton game. Original shuttlecocks were made from feathers, which led to the pseudonym "birds." Shuttles for backyard badminton games are often made from plastic. The shuttles used in modern competition badminton games are made from 16 real feathers, with a preference for goose feathers from the bird's left wing.
Badminton rackets are made from lightweight materials that are known for durability such as aluminum, steel and carbon fiber. The overall length limit of a badminton racket is 26.77 inches. Standard badminton rackets must not be wider than 9.06 inches. The strings on the racket must range from .03 inches thick. The overall weight of the racket cannot exceed 3.2 oz.