Badminton dates back to ancient Greece; the modern game of badminton was brought home to England by military officers stationed in India in the 19th century. Balls of wool and cardboard were replaced with shuttlecocks, and in 1873, the game known as shuttlecock or battledore was renamed badminton. Standard regulations similar to current rules were established in 1887. The International Badminton Federation, now known as the Badminton World Federation, was established in 1934. Badminton has been an Olympic sport since 1992.
A coin toss begins the match; winner(s) choose to serve or receive. Winner(s) serves first in the following game, and players exchange courtsides. A badminton match is the best of three games, each played to 21 points; at a score of 20-all, the badminton game continues until one side takes a 2-point lead. The badminton serve is hit from below the waist in an underhand movement; the serve is from right court in singles, and alternates from left to right court for doubles. Points are lost when the shuttle touches the ground, at which time the serve passes to the opponent(s). Delicate flip shots, overhand smashes, and slicing add illusion to a game of badminton, catching the opponent off guard and forcing him to work the entire court.
The badminton court is rectangular with a net dividing the court into two equal sides. Badminton courts are 44 feet long; the court width measures 17 feet for singles and 20 feet for doubles. A centerline divides court width, a singles service line is marked at 6.5 feet from the net, and a doubles service line is marked at 2.5 feet from the back boundary. The net is 5 feet high at the center.
Badminton rackets are lightweight and commonly composed of graphite-reinforced plastic, steel, and aluminum. Costs limit the demand for wooden badminton rackets. One badminton racket grip, or multiple layers of them may be used; replacement grips are thicker, and are used to increase the handle size. Overgrips are thin and often used as the final layer. Laws govern racket size and shape: newer badminton racket designs offer isometric head shapes as an alternative to the traditional oval head shape. Strings are high-performance and thin. High string tensions can improve control; low tensions can increase power.
The shuttlecock, shuttle, or bird, is a high-drag projectile. Overlapping goose feathers embedded into a fabric/leather-covered round cork base create an open cone shape. Inexpensive synthetic shuttles are made for recreational use. Nylon shuttlecocks have colored strips fastened around the cork, designating slow (green), medium (blue), and fast (red) speeds.