Badminton is an old pastime experiencing newfound popularity stemming from its selection as an Olympic sport in 1992. Hailed as the world's fastest racket sport, the rules and regulations of badminton have evolved over centuries and are somewhat similar to tennis with a few variations. While competitive badminton is played on precisely proportioned indoor courts, informal matches can take place in backyard venues. Regardless the setting, players can enjoy a brisk workout that emphasises speed, agility and accuracy.
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Badminton's origins reach back to ancient Greece and China. A version of the game from India came to Great Britain in the mid-19th century. The modern framework of badminton rules and regulation was introduced in 1887--just a few years after America's first badminton club was established in New York City. American players excelled during and after World War II. The first badminton world championship was held in 1977. As of 2010, China dominates international badminton.
The overall purpose of badminton is to hit a feathered shuttlecock, also known as a shuttle or birdie, over a net and so that it lands inbounds on an opponent's half of the court. Each point commences when a servers strikes the shuttlecock in an underhand motion so that it travels diagonally into the foe's service area. Play pauses when the shuttlecock hits the ground. Recent changes have been implemented in the scoring rules for international badminton. Games are now played to 21 points instead of 15. As a result of another change, whoever wins a volley receives a point. In the past, only the serving team or player could score.
A regulation badminton court measures 20 feet by 44 feet. The width of the playing areas shrinks by 17 feet for singles matches. A 5-foot-high net divides the court. Because shots can soar quite high, a 30-foot-height clearance is recommended.
Badminton rackets weigh 142gr. or less. Though previously constructed of wood, today's versions are made of materials like aluminium, graphite or titanium. Possessing distinctive aerodynamic properties, tournament-quality shuttlecocks are very light and consist of a ball-shaped cork fitted with 16 goose feathers. Most casual players use plastic shuttlecocks with synthetic feathers. Competition badminton courts are flat and typically have a wooden or concrete playing surface.
Big Effort, Small Prizes
Competitive badminton is physically demanding. The top badminton players cover more ground and make nearly twice as many shots in a match than tennis players. But tennis players earn a lot more money--a total of £130,000 was paid in prizes at the All England Badminton Tournament in 2008 compared to the £15.3 million purse at the Wimbledon tennis tourney.
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