Badminton is an Olympic sport for two or four players in which long-handled rackets are used to hit a shuttlecock (also called a shuttle or bird;) over a net stretched across a marked court. Badminton's growth both as a backyard recreation and as a highly developed competitive indoor sport has been greatest since the end of World War II, although the game dates back to the 1800s. The International Badminton Federation (IBF) has members in more than 90 nations and an annual world Grand Prix circuit for both men and women.


The game is believed to have been invented in India in a version called poona. British army officers learned the game about 1870. In 1873 the duke of Beaufort introduced the sport at his country estate, Badminton, from which the game derives its name. In 1887 the Bath Badminton Club was formed; it was replaced in 1893 by the Badminton Association of England, which codified the rules that still govern competitive play. In the United States, meanwhile, the first badminton club was formed in 1878 in New York City.

The IBF was founded in 1934 with nine nations represented. The introduction of Thomas Cup play for men in 1949 and Uber Cup competition for women in 1957 brought to public attention outstanding stars such as Judy Devlin Hashman, of Baltimore, Md., winner of ten all-England titles.


Rackets are lightweight, much smaller than those used in tennis. The 5-g (0.18-oz) shuttlecock is usually made of cork and feathers, which can cause the shuttle suddenly to stop, drop, or turn in midair. The court is about 5.2 by 13.4 m (17 by 44 ft) for singles and 1 m (3 ft) wider for doubles.


In order to score, a player has to serve, or put the shuttle into play. A server can score when the opponent lets the shuttle fall to the ground or by a fault. A fault occurs when the opponent, in an attempt to return the shuttle safely, allows it to go into or under the net, hits it out of the playing area, touches the net, or is touched by the shuttle.

In doubles or men's singles, 15 points wins a game; in women's singles, 11 points. A match is the best two out of three games.