What is the history of badminton?

Badminton is a racquet sport with an intriguing history that mainly focuses on Asia and parts of Europe and Pacific. The sport was originally named “Battledore and Shuttlecock” which was popularized by British India expatriates in the 1850s. During the same period, the Duke of Beaufort played this sport in his “Badminton House” in Gloucestershire. This is one of the most accepted postulates behind the origin of the word ‘badminton.’


The first description of the sport was published in 1860 when a toy dealer published a booklet titled “Battledore Badminton.” Unfortunately, there are no surviving copies of the book today. Three years later, The Cornhill Magazine described the manner in which ‘battledore’ was played. The modern game’s history began in 1870 and we shall now see how the sport has transpired since then.

1870-1886

Poona (modern day: Pune), a city in the state of Maharashtra, India, is credited for being the place where the first rules of badminton were laid down. This happened in 1873, and owing to the popularity of this game, “Poonah” became synonymous to badminton.

Since this took place in British India, English officers who went back home started forming badminton clubs in England. One such club was in Folkestone (Kent). It is said that badminton matches in this club could have a maximum of four players on either side of the net. Later, they decided that either two or four players can take the court for a match play.

1887-1898

The rules laid down in Pune lasted for nearly two decades. But in 1887, the rules were revised at the Bath Badminton Club by J.H.E. Hart. Another round of revising the rules took place, this time by Hart and Bagnall-Wild. The latter is often credited with the introduction of the system of ‘byes’ in knockout events.
In 1893, the Badminton Association of England published a new set of rules. The first match based on the revised rules was played at Dunbar, Portsmouth.

1899-1904

The Badminton Association of England launched the first badminton competition in 1899. This was an exclusive doubles competition and housed three separate events for gentlemen, ladies and a mixed category. The following year, singles category was added to the event.
In 1904, the first team-based competition took place in England. The first singles championship match took place in this competition between an English and Irish player.

1905-1938

The International Badminton Federation was formed in 1934. India joined as an affiliate nation in 1936. This federation is today the premier governing body of badminton globally, and is called the Badminton World Federation (BWF). This period of badminton history was severely affected by the advent of the World War.

1939-1977

The All-England Championships remained the highlight of all competitions that took place during the 1930s. Despite the prevalence of many regional, zonal and national events, there was a deficit of global competition.

In 1949, the first World Men’s Team Championships was held. It was known as the Thomas Cup. The women’s counterpart event was the Uber Cup and was first held in 1957. Since 1982, these events are regularly held every two years.

1972-1996

In 1972, Badminton first appeared as a demonstration sport in the Olympics. It was received with immense praise and made its official debut as an Olympic sport in the 1992 Games. The introduction of a mixed doubles event in the 1996 Olympics completed a full set of events in all disciplines of the sport.

This sums up how badminton got its global recognition since it’s inception.

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