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Get ready to rally. Badminton is a racquet sport that can be played by either two people (singles) or four people (doubles). Unlike other racquet sports, such as tennis or squash, badminton involves hitting a shuttlecock – a cone-shaped projectile that moves differently to a ball. Able to reach much higher speeds than a ball, the shuttlecock makes for a fast-paced game - making badminton the ideal sport for those who like to be kept on their toes.
Competitive badminton is always played indoors, as even a small gust of wind could cause havoc during a game. The court is always rectangular, but varies in size (being bigger for a doubles match than it is for a singles match). It’s divided in half by a high net, over which players must hit the shuttlecock to avoid losing points – often something that's much easier said than done.
During a game of badminton, points are scored by winning rallies. Each rally begins with a serve, and ends when one player fails to return the shuttlecock to the other side of the net in one stroke, or hits the shuttle outside of the court. Each game is played to 21 points, unless there is a tie at 20 - in which case play continues until one side is 2 points in the lead. It may seem like a fairly gentle concept, but believe us – competitive badminton can be pretty nail-biting stuff...
Badminton isn’t just about having a bit of fun in the garden on a sunny day (although of course it can be that too, if you want it to be). In order to take this sport seriously and get the most out of it, you’ll need to be pretty fit – after all, there’s plenty of running about on the court to be accomplished. In addition to speed and stamina, good motor coordination is a must if you want to be able to master key racquet techniques.
For those who are ill, injured or pregnant, competitive badminton is probably not a good choice, due to the amount of running and movement involved. Speak to your doctor if you’re unsure before taking up classes – they’ll be able to help you avoid any nasty injuries or strains.
The game of badminton was first devised in India, where it was created by British military officers in the mid-18th century. The sport caught on, and members of the upper class began playing using balls of wool in place of shuttlecocks – probably much to the annoyance of anyone trying to knit in the vicinity.