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A racket sport played between 2 players or 2 pairs of players.
Badminton is a racket (or racquet) sport played by either two opposing players (singles) or two opposing pairs (doubles).
Players at opposite ends of the court aim to hit a shuttlecock, more informally called a shuttle, over the net so that it lands inside the marked boundaries of the court, and aim to prevent their opponents from doing the same. Unlike a tennis ball, the shuttlecock flies with a lot of drag, and will not bounce significantly. The shuttlecock is always volleyed, and a rally ends as soon as it touches the ground. Badminton racquets have long handles, to make it easier to impart a great deal of momentum to overcome the drag. The racquets are also much lighter than tennis racquets, because the shuttlecock is light. Badminton is one of the fastest sports in the world with shuttles reaching speeds of up to 332 km/h (206 mph). Fu Haifeng of China set the official record July 3, 2005.
Although the size of a badminton court is smaller than that of a tennis court, the distance run by a player in a match is usually much greater than that in tennis. This is due, in part, to the fact that the entire court must be covered by the player as the shuttlecock is not allowed to bounce before being returned. Also, the rallies of each point tend to be much longer than tennis. This is true even though winning a 'shutout' match in badminton requires only winning 30 points (15-0, 15-0, in a Men's Single match) whereas in tennis it would require 72 points (6-0, 6-0, 6-0).
The game of badminton may look easy to play, but it can be physically more tiring than tennis since the tennis ball travels at a much slower speed as compared to a shuttlecock. Speed, reaction, and endurance are all important to being a successful badminton player. From a fitness perspective a close comparison can be made to squash which also has the same explosive starts.
As in tennis, there are typically five events: men's singles, women's singles, men's doubles, women's doubles and mixed doubles (each pair is composed of one man and one woman).
The service court
One decides between two service courts. There is the service court for singles, which is 5.18 meters wide by 13.40 meters long and the service court for doubles is 6.10 meters wide by 11.88 meters long. The service court is divided in two parts. In the middle of the court there is a net, which is 1.55 meters high. The short service lines go away 1.98 meters from the net. Left service court and right service court are divided by the center line.
Racquet: Traditionally racquets were made of wood. Later on aluminium or other light metals became the material of choice. Now, almost all professional badminton racquets are composed of carbon fiber composite (graphite reinforced plastic), and even titanium composites. Carbon fiber has an excellent strength to weight ratio, is stiff, and gives excellent kinetic energy transfer. However, some low-end models still use steel or aluminum for some or all of the racquet.
String: Perhaps one of the most overlooked areas of badminton equipment is the string. Different types of string have different response properties. Durability generally varies with performance. Most strings are 21 gauge in thickness and strung at 18 to 30 lbf (80 to 130 newtons) of tension. Racquets strung at lower tensions (18 to 21 lbf or 80 to 95 N) generate greater power while racquets strung at higher tensions provide greater control (21 lbf, over 95 N). This is due to the trampolining effect - at lower tensions the shuttlecock can trampoline off, and the elastic recoil increases the power. Players' personal preferences play a strong role in string selection.
Shoes: Because acceleration across the court is so important, players need excellent grip with the floor at all times. Badminton shoes need a gum sole for good grip, reinforced side walls for durability during drags, and shock dispersion technology for jumping; badminton places a lot of stress on the knees and ankles.
The Japanese manufacturer Yonex dominates the badminton equipment market, making racquets, shoes, and everything in between.
Playing the game
Each player or pair takes position on either side of a net on a rectangular court marked on the floor, as shown in the diagrams.
The object of the game is to hit a shuttlecock (normally shortened to "shuttle" or "cock"; more colloquially, "bird" or "birdie"), using a racquet, over the net onto the court within the marked boundaries before the opposing player or pair can hit it back. For every time this is achieved by the team currently serving, the serving player or pair scores one point. After winning a point the same player serves again, and continues to serve as long as they continue to win points. If the non-serving team wins the rally, no point is scored but instead there is a change of server.
In doubles, one server starts the game, and after losing a rally the serve switches to the opposing team. From then on, both players on a team take turns serving before the serve switches back to their opponents. The player on the right-hand serving side always begins the serving.
At the start of a match, a coin is tossed. The side that wins the toss may choose whether to serve first, or may choose which end of the court to play. The other side exercises the remaining choice. In less formal settings, the shuttle may be hit into the air to determine which side serves: the shuttle lands pointing to the serving side.
The first player or pair to reach 15 points (11 points for women's singles) wins the game. If the score reaches 14-all (10-all for women's singles) the receiving side can choose to "set" and hence extend the game by 3 points, i.e. the first to reach 17 (or 13) points wins. If the non-serving side chooses not to set, the game is decided by a single point, i.e. the first to reach 15 (or 11) points wins.
A badminton match can be made up of any odd number of games (3 in official matches). The winner of the match is the first to win more than half the number of games (e.g. the first to win 2 games in a 3 game match).
The serve must be in an upwards direction, to land in the diagonally opposite service court. At the moment of impact on service, the shuttle must be below the waist, and the whole of the racket head must be below the hand holding the racket. These rules are designed to limit the attacking options of the server. A point is only added to the score on service. Unlike tennis, there is no "let" on service if the shuttle hits the tape.
At the start of a doubles game, the first side to serve will only continue serving until they lose a rally. After that, the serve will pass to the opponents, and for the remainder of the game both members of a serving pair will have an opportunity to serve. A server must change service courts after each rally won, so that he serves to the other opponent. The receiving pair, however, will not vary their positions in this way. When a pair have just regained the service, the first serve is always delivered by the player in the right-hand service court.
In singles each player has only one serve at a time; if the serve is lost, it passes to the opponent.
Experimental IBF Scoring
In December 2005 the International Badminton Federation started an experimental scoring system for IBF events. The new system incorporates rally point scoring; a point can be won by the serving and receiving player or pair. In the traditional system only the serving player or pair could win a point. Under the new system games are played to 21 points, also for women's singles. A difference of 2 points is needed, up until 29-29, where the first player or pair to reach 30 wins. In doubles there is no second server anymore under the new system. When the serving pair loses a rally the serve passes immediately to the other pair. Pairs only switch service courts when they won a point while serving. If the pair who has won right to serve has an even score, the player in the right service court will serve, if the score is uneven the player in the left service court will serve.
Besides the new scoring system the experiment also has a rule change concerning breaks during a match. When a side reaches 11 points, both sides get a 60 second break. Between first and second game, as well as between second and third game, players receive a 2-minute break.
When players commit a fault, they lose the rally. The most common fault is for a player to fail to return the shuttle before it hits the floor, or to return it so that it lands out of court. It is also a fault if the shuttle touches the person or dress of a player, or in doubles if both players hit the shuttle.
At lower levels of play, players often commit service faults without realising. For example, see rules on service, above.
If a let is called, the rally is restarted. Lets are rare in professional play; they occur whenever some unexpected circumstance arises that interferes with the rally. For example, a let is called if the shuttle passes over the net and then becomes entangled in the net (except on service, when this is deemed a fault).
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