History of Badminton

The history of badminton can be traced back many to the games of battledore and shuttlecock which were played in ancient Greece over 2000 years ago. The game we all know as badminton began in the 19th century (1870) and was named by the Duke of Beaufort after Badminton House in Gloucestershire1. The International Badminton Federation now has its base in Gloucestershire.

Print of People Playing Badminton in India.

In England there had long been a children's game known as "battledore and shuttlecock". Players used a paddle, called a battledore, to keep a cork stuffed with feathers, called a shuttlecock, in the air for as long as possible. This game had been popular since medieval times. The modern version had migrated somehow to India and then back again.

England played the same badminton rules as India until 1887. The Bath Badminton Club standardized the rules and regulations, making the game more inclined towards the English ideas of how the game should be played. The Badminton Association of England published the first set of rules in line with the new regulations in 1893 and officially launched the game of Badminton. The All England Open Badminton Championships began in 1899 and were the world's first badminton competition.

In 1934 the International Badminton Federation (IBF), which now known as the Badminton World Federation, was established. England, France, Canada, Denmark, Netherlands, New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland and Wales were the first members. In 1936 India joined as an affiliate. Globally the Badminton World Federation (BWF) governs and promotes the sport.

The history of badminton in the United States began with the first Badminton club, the Badminton Club of New York, founded in 1878. The game flourished in the 1930s when places such as the YMCA and educational institutions began offering badminton instruction. Badminton became a popular pastime for many Hollywood stars including James Cagney, Bette Davis, Ginger Rogers and Douglas Fairbanks, which also helped to promote the sport in the 1930s.

The different badminton groups throughout the Untied States got together to standardize the rules and regulations of the game in 1936. 1937 saw the first ABA championships and a year later it became a member of the International Badminton Federation.

The United States singles player, David Freeman, won the All England World Championships in 1949, while the All England World Championship doubles were won the same year by the American players Clinton and Patsy Stevens, although the All-England Championships were considered the unofficial world championships until 1977.

Between 1949 and 1967 the United States won 23 world championships and much acclaimed success in world rankings.

Although the history of badminton originated in England this international sport has been largely dominated by Asian countries and Denmark over the last few decades. Countries including South Korea, Malaysia, China and Indonesia have all produced world class players. China is currently the strongest badminton country, winning many major championships consistently over the last few years.

1. BBC Sports