London 2012

Badminton event guide


Claiming to be the world's fastest racket sport, badminton is without doubt a hugely exciting spectator sport and is regularly watched by crowds in five figures in Asia.

That's a far cry from the sort of knockabout stuff at leisure centres everywhere, particularly as the shuttlecock can travel at speeds of around 200mph!

The game is played on a court 13.4m long and 6.1m wide divided in the middle by a 1.5m high net, with the object to either land the shuttlecock on the floor on your opponent's side of the court or to force them to hit it into the net or out of court.

The court is sectioned off into different sizes for singles and doubles.

In singles, the playing court is 'long and thin' so the two central back boxes are 'in' but the side boxes running from the net right to the back line are 'out'.

In doubles, the playing court is 'short and fat' for serving (so the long service line is one in from the back line and the whole width of the court is in play) and 'long and fat' in general play (so the entire width and length of the court is in play).

A single match is the best of three games which are now, under a new scoring system adopted worldwide in 2006, played to 21 points (rather than 15 previously).

Should the score reach 20-20 a player must win a game by two clear points, while at 29-29, the next player to score a point is declared the winner.

Unlike the previous scoring format, points are accrued no matter who is serving, while in doubles play only one player in each partnership serves per turn.


The origins of the sport of badminton are in games like battledore, a game played over 2,000 years ago in ancient Greece with paddles (the battledores) and shuttlecocks.

Only in the 19th century was the game formalised, though, and its name comes from Badminton House in Gloucestershire, the residence of the Duke of Beaufort.

The first official rules were published in 1893 by the Badminton Association of England and the first All England Open Championships took place six years later.

The sport spread quickly to the United States and Canada and Down Under and by 1934 there was enough worldwide interest to form the International Badminton Federation with England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales among the nine founders.

The IBF's first major tournament was the Thomas Cup (a men's team event) and the calendar has grown with the addition of the World Championships (both senior and junior), World Grand Prix Finals and women's and mixed team events.

Badminton joined the Commonwealth Games programme in 1966 and was added to the Olympic roster in 1992 having been an exhibition event in Munich in 1972.

Olympic greats:

Chinese player Gao Ling is the most successful Olympic badminton player in history, with four medals to her name. After winning gold in the mixed doubles and bronze in the women's doubles in Sydney in 2000, she went one better four years later in Athens by taking silver in the women's event while also winning the mixed again.

Her two gold medals came with Zhang Jun and a third Chinese player has also topped the podium twice, with Kim Dong-moon winning gold in the mixed in Atlanta and the men's doubles in Athens, as well as a bronze in the latter event in Sydney.

Only four nations boast Olympic gold medallists with China unsurprisingly leading the way on 11. South Korea and Indonesia have won 6, with Poul-Erik Hoyer Larsen's victory in the Atlanta men's singles getting Denmark on the board.

Best of British:

Nathan Robertson: Only of only four Britons to win an Olympic badminton medal, he claimed the silver with the now retired Gail Emms in Sydney. That duo won gold in both the World Championships and Commonwealth Games in 2006, while Robertson has won four Commonwealth silver medals, including one with new partner Jenny Wallwork in Delhi, and three bronzes.

Jenny Wallwork: Replaced Gail Emms as Robertson's partner in the mixed double after her retirement and the duo won silver at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi. They've also won back-to-back English National Championships. Prior to linking up with Robertson, Wallwork won titles in Bulgaria, Scotland and Holland.

Rajiv Ouseph: Britain's highest-ranked men's singles player, Ouseph is a four-time (back-to-back) English national champion and won the US Open in 2011. A silver-medallist in the event at the Delhi Commonwealth Games, he is already into double figures for senior titles won on tour and should be in his prime in London.

Ones to Watch:

Peter Gade: A former world number one, Gade is a joy to watch - particularly when he executes his trademark 'double action' shot which continues to leave even top-level opponents bemused. The master of deception, he is yet to win an Olympic medal but has reached the podium four times at the World Championships.

Saina Nehwal: Blazing a trail in the women's game in the same way her fellow Indian Sania Mirza has done in tennis. Marketing experts believe she could soon cross the 10million rupee (£1.4million) mark for each endorsement deal she signs.


Clear: A lofted shot hit deep into the opponent's court.

Drive: A fast, low shot that crosses the net horizontally.

Drop: A soft shot that falls close to the net on the opponent's court.

Flick: A disguised shot, played with a late flick of the wrist to add power.

Hairpin: A shot played from close to the net which makes the arc of a hairpin.

Kill: Fast shot angled towards the floor that can't be returned.

Net: Called when a rally will be replayed.

Long Service Line: Marks the maximum length of a serve - the back of the court in singles, the first line inside it in doubles.

Serve: How a rally is started - shuttlecock must be struck below the waist and the shaft of the racket must be pointing in a downward direction. Must land in the diagonal box to be a legal serve (unless struck by the opponent).

Short Service Line: Marks the minimum length of a serve (same for both singles and doubles)

Shuttlecock (also 'Shuttle' or 'Bird'): Badminton's 'ball'. Made of 16 goose feathers attached to a cork base.

Smash: A powerful overhead that sends the shuttle downward.

Did you Know?

The best shuttlecock feathers come from the left wing of the goose.

A player can cover more than 2km in a single match.