As sports go, Badminton is one that receives very little buzz anywhere except in Asia.
Perhaps this has something to do with its history.
The game itself was first played back in the days of the Raj by the British in India. Since then it has gone on to become the racket game of choice in the region, especially in countries such as China, Hong Kong and Singapore. China has produced most of the world champions and currently leads the ranks as the dominant badminton champions in almost all competitions.
Whilst it’s great that the sport remains so popular in Asia, one would naturally have assumed that a sport begun by expatriate Brits in colonial India would have at least gathered some steam back at home. Oddly, not so much.
Unlike G&T’s and The Hash House Harriers, Badminton did not thrill the masses at home.
Luckily though, it did thrive elsewhere, and it’s easy to see why.
Badminton can be played by people of any age group, and like it’ new cousin (the very strangely named Pickleball) it requires a smaller space than tennis and a lot less running.
A badminton court is half the size of a tennis court.
The conical shaped shuttlecock- great name- is usually made from 16 overlapping actual bird feathers, although it can be made from fake plastic or nylon ones. The end of a shuttlecock is either plastic or cork.
A fair bit of skill is required in order to get the shuttle over the net, but as the projectile is not heavy and the rackets are also light, there is less strain on the wrist that with most similar sports.
Surprisingly though, at competition level, a shuttlecock can travel at a remarkable speed.
The fastest ever recorded badminton stroke is 206 miles per hour( that’s 332 Kilometres per hour, whereas the fastest ever recorded tennis smash is a paltry 163.4 mph ( or 263 kph)…..
Even if a shuttle is whacked with enormous strength, however, it slows down very quickly. The stabilizing feathers that control ‘sail’ also provide an enormous amount of wind resistance, and badminton is every bit about strategy and skill as it is about strength and grunt.
The game is played up to 21 points, and can be played as singles, doubles, and in mixed teams.
In mixed teams it is generally regarded that men will play at the baseline, and women will come to the front of the net as a means of taking advantage of each player’s natural physical strengths, although at an elite level, this strategy doesn’t appear as effective.
Women may be lighter and faster, and men slower and stronger generally, but it is a reckless way of thinking if you are playing against people with a passion for the game.
Luckily for most of us, the fun element is what keeps us on the court. Like all great sports, Badminton is easy to learn and play, harder to master.
It can be played indoors and out and has been an Olympic event for a number of years. If you haven’t given it a go, or it’s been a while since you picked up a racket, why not check out what is available in your local area and get involved. Moving is important, and badminton will use your mind as well as your body. Enjoy