Badminton, a game played with rackets and shuttlecocks, its name being taken from the duke of Beaufort's seat in Gloucestershire. The game appears to have been first played in England about 1873, but before that time it was played in India, where it is still very popular. The Badminton Association in England was founded in 1895, and its laws were framed from a code of rules drawn up in 1887 for the Bath Badminton Club and based on the original Poona (1876) rules. In England the game is almost always played in a covered court. The All England championships for gentlemen's doubles, ladies' doubles, and mixed doubles were instituted in 1899, and for gentlemen's singles and ladies' singles in 1900; and the first championship between England and Ireland was played in 1904. Badminton may be played by daylight or by artificial light, either with two players on each side (the four-handed or double game) or with one player on each side (the two-handed or single game). The game consists entirely of volleying and is extremely fast, a single at Badminton being admitted to require more staying power than a single at lawn tennis.

There is much scope for judgment and skill, e.g. in "dropping" (hitting the shuttle gently just over the net) and in "smashing" (hitting the shuttle with a hard downward stroke). The measurements of the court are shown on the accompanying plan.

Diagram Of Court

In the two-handed game, the width of the court is reduced to 17 ft. and the long service lines are dispensed with, the back boundary lines being used as the long service lines, and the lines dividing the half courts being produced to meet the back boundary lines. The net posts are placed either on the side boundary lines or at any distance not exceeding 2 ft. outside the said lines; thus in the four-handed game, the distance between the posts is from 20 to 24 ft., and in the two-handed fame, from 17 to 21 ft. N.B. - With the exception of the net line, the dotted lines on the court apply only to the court for the two-handed game.

The Badminton hall should be not less than 18 ft. high. Along the net line is stretched a net 30 in. deep, from 17 to 24 ft. long according to the position of the posts, and edged on the top with white tape 3 in. wide. The top of the net should be 5 ft. from the ground at the centre and 5 ft. 1 in. at the posts. The shuttlecock (or shuttle) has 16 feathers from 2½ to 2¾ in. long, and weighs from 73 to 85 grains. The racket (which is of no specified size, shape or weight) is strung with strong fine gut and weighs as a rule about 6 oz.

The game is for 15 or, rarely, for 21 aces, except in ladies' singles, when it is for 11 aces; and a rubber is the best of three games. Games of 21 aces are played only and always in matches decided by a single game, and generally in handicap contests. The right to choose ends or to serve first in the first game of the rubber is decided by tossing. If the side which wins the toss chooses first service, the other side chooses ends, and vice versa; but the side which wins the toss may call upon the other side to make first choice. The sides change ends at the beginning of the second game, and again at the beginning of the third game, if a third game is necessary. In the third game the sides change ends when the side which is leading reaches 8 in a game of 15 aces, and 6 in a game of 11 aces, or, in handicap games, when the score of either side reaches half the number of aces required to win the game. In matches of one game (21 aces) the sides change ends when the side which is leading has scored 11 aces.

The side winning a game serves first in the next game, and, in the four-handed game, either player on the side that has won the last game may take first service in the next game.

In a game of 15 aces, when the score is "13 all" the side which first reaches 13 has the option of "setting" the game to 5, and when the score is "14 all" the side which first reaches 14 has the option of "setting" the game to 3, i.e. the side which first scores 5 or 3 aces, according as the game has been "set" at "13 all" or "14 all," wins. In ladies' singles, when the score is "9 all" the side first reaching 9 may "set" the game to 5, and when the score is "10 all" the side which first reaches 10 may "set" the game to 3. In games of 21 aces, the game may be "set" to 5 at "19 all" and to 3 at "20 all." There is no "setting" in handicap games.

In the four-handed game, the player who serves first stands in his right-hand half court and serves to the player who is standing in the opposite right-hand half court, the other players meanwhile standing anywhere on their side of the net. As soon as the shuttle is hit by the server's racket, all the players may stand anywhere on their side of the net. If the player served to returns the shuttle, i.e. hits it into any part of his opponents' court before it touches the ground, it has to be returned by one of the "in" (serving) side, and then by one of the "out" (non-serving) side, and so on, until a "fault" is made or the shuttle ceases to be "in play."[1] If the "in" side makes a "fault," the server loses his "hand" (serve), and the player served to becomes the server; but no score accrues. If the "out" side makes a "fault," the "in" side scores an ace, and the players on the "in" side change half courts, the server then serving from his left half court to the player in the opposite left half court, who has not yet been served to. Only the player served to may take the service, and only the "in" side can score an ace. The first service in each innings is made from the right-hand half court.

The side that starts a game has only one "hand" in its first innings; in every subsequent innings each player on each side has a "hand," the partners serving consecutively. While a side remains "in," service is made alternately from each half court into the half court diagonally opposite, the change of half courts taking place whenever an ace is scored. If, in play, the shuttle strikes the net but still goes over, the stroke is good; but if this happens in service and the service is otherwise good, it is a "let," i.e. the stroke does not count, and the server must serve again, even if the shuttle has been struck by the player served to, in which case it is assumed that the shuttle would have fallen into the proper half court. It is a "let," too, if the server, in attempting to serve, misses the shuttle altogether. It is a good stroke, in service or in play, if the shuttle falls on a line, or, in play, if it is followed over the net with the striker's racket, or passes outside either of the net posts and then drops inside any of the boundary lines of the opposite court.

Mutatis mutandis, the above remarks apply to the two-handed game, the main points of difference being that, in the two-handed game, both sides change half courts after each ace is scored and the same player takes consecutive serves, whereas in the double game only the serving side changes half courts at an added ace and a player may not take two consecutive serves in the same game.

It is a "fault" (a) if the service is overhand, i.e. if the shuttle when struck is higher than the server's waist; (b) if, in serving, the shuttle does not fall into the half court diagonally opposite that from which service is made; (c) if, before the shuttle is struck by the server, both feet of the server and of the player served to are not inside their respective half courts, a foot on a line being deemed out of court; (d) if, in play, the shuttle falls outside the court, or, in service or play, passes through or under the net, or hangs in the net, or touches the roof or side walls of the hall or the person or dress of any player; (e) if the shuttle "in play" is hit before it reaches the striker's side; (f) if, when the shuttle is "in play," a player touches the net or its supports with his racket, person or dress; (g) if the shuttle is struck twice successively by the same player, or if it is struck by a player and his partner successively, or if it is not distinctly hit, i.e. if it is merely caught on the racket and spooned over the net; (h) if a player wilfully obstructs his opponent.

For full information on the laws of the game the reader is referred to the Laws of Badminton and the Rules of the Badminton Association, published annually (London). See also an article by S. M. Massey in the Badminton Magazine (February 1907), reprinted in a slightly revised form in the Badminton Gazette (November 1907). Until October 1907 Lawn Tennis and Badminton was the official organ of the Badminton Association; in November 1907 the Badminton Gazette became the official organ.

[1] The shuttle is "in play" from the time it is struck by the server's racket until it touches the ground, or touches the net without going over, or until a "fault" is made.