A geek’s guide to Badminton

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Around since the 16th century, Badminton is very popular in Asian countries, especially China and India, where the world's best players hail from. The pinnacle event on the Badminton calendar is the Summer Olympic games, held every four years.

Long Chen (CHN) competes against Viktor Axelsen (DEN) in a men's singles semifinals badminton match at Riocentro - Pavilion 4 during the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Long Chen (CHN) competes against Viktor Axelsen (DEN) in a men's singles semifinals badminton match at Riocentro - Pavilion 4 during the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

The aim of badminton

The objective of badminton is to win enough rallies to gain points, thus winning the match. To do that players strike the shuttle with their racket, so it passes over the net and hopefully lands within the opponent's court.

The opposing player or team are also looking to do the same by returning the shuttle into the opposite of their court. In badminton, players and teams can win points off opponent's mistakes; for example, if the shuttle is hit under the net, out of the court, or struck into the net.

You'll notice players "leaving" the shuttle if they believe it will fall outside of the court. If the shuttle looks like it is going out of the court, but the opposition still returns the shuttle - the rally continues.

Unlike tennis, where the ball can bounce once on the ground, badminton does not. As soon as the shuttle touches the ground, the rally is over, and a point is won.

Great Britain's Susan Egelstaff lunges for a point in her match with Japan's Sato Sayaka at Wembley Arena, London. Great Britain's Susan Egelstaff lunges for a point in her match with Japan's Sato Sayaka at Wembley Arena, London.

You must hit the shuttle once only before it goes over the net (even in doubles). Thus, badminton is not like volleyball, where several players can touch the ball three times before returning it back over the net.

Scoring in badminton

To score points, the shuttle must be struck over the net and land in the opposition's court before they have an opportunity to return it. As mentioned above points can be scored on opponent’s mistakes like if the shuttle lands outside of the court or struck into the net.

Games are won when one player or team reaches 21 points - once achieved they have won a set. Players or teams must win two out of three sets to win the overall match.

Lee Dong Keun of Korea, celebrates after defeating Mark Caljouw of Netherland, during the men's singles final match at the U.S. Open Badminton Championships Lee Dong Keun of Korea, celebrates after defeating Mark Caljouw of Netherland, during the men's singles final match at the U.S. Open Badminton Championships

Should the score be tied at 20-20, then both players or teams continue until one of them is two clear points ahead. Should the score reach 29-29, then the game will end once the next point is scored and decide the winner of the set.

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Badminton matches and equipment

Badminton is both a singles and doubles game. Either you have one player versus another (known as a singles match), or a team of two players playing against a team of two opposing players, known as doubles. In a doubles match, either player can hit the shuttle.

There are five different types of badminton matches:

  • Men’s singles
  • Women’s singles
  • Men’s doubles
  • Women’s doubles
  • Mixed doubles (each team has a man and a woman)

Badminton players use a stringed racket, similar to that of tennis rackets but the head is smaller and the racket much lighter in weight. The shuttle, or better known as the shuttlecock has a hard-half-round ball at the bottom with feathers attached to it along a plastic wire frame.

To obtain maximum impact when striking the shuttle, players aim to hit the hard ball part of the shuttle, as this provides a faster shot that is harder to return by the opposition. Hitting the feathers produces a softer shot that can be quickly returned.

China's Chen Long returns the shuttlecock during the men's singles match against South Korea's Jeon Hyeok Jin China's Chen Long returns the shuttlecock during the men's singles match against South Korea's Jeon Hyeok Jin

Badminton courts are 13.4m x 6.1m with a net across the middle of the court. Along the edges of the court are two sets of lines (they look like tram lines) - the inner lines are used as the boundary for a singles match, the outer lines, for doubles matches.

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Basic rules of badminton

Badminton is a fast-paced game, so you’ll need to master the below basics if you are to follow the game:

  • When serving, players must serve diagonally across the net to the opposing player or team player. Unlike tennis, in badminton there is no second serve so if a player makes a mistake, either hitting the shuttle out or into the net, the opposition obtains a point.
  • When serving, players are not permitted to serve overarm, only underarm.
  • Once a successful serve has been made, and a rally initiated - players, both singles and doubles are allowed to move around the court as they wish, like tennis, including hitting the shuttle from out of the court boundaries.
  • Points are scored when the shuttle is struck and lands within the boundaries of the opposing team's court.
  • Additional points are scored if the opposition hits the shuttle into the net or lands outside of the court.
  • Players are not allowed to touch any part of the net with any part of their body. If they do, the opposition receives a point.
  • Further faults include if the shuttle is hit twice or the caught in the racket when striking.
  • Matches are umpired by a referee and line judges who monitor if the shuttle lands over the lines or not. The match referee has the overriding authority on infringements and faults.
  • For players who persistently fouls within the match, the referee also has the power to dock that player (or team if a doubles match) of further points for infringements.

England's Heather Olver preparers to serve during her 1st round mixed doubles qualification match with partner Marcus Ellis (not pictured) England's Heather Olver preparers to serve during her 1st round mixed doubles qualification match with partner Marcus Ellis (not pictured)

With this geeks guide to badminton, you should have enough to get started watching and betting on your first badminton match. Master these basics, and you'll find yourself begging to know more about this fast-paced game that is played throughout the calendar year culminating in the ultimate tournament – badminton at the Olympic games.

Words: David Bailey-Lauring

Images: PA

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