Get Inspired – Try Badminton
When it comes to sport, badminton is one which you don’t really hear much about and as a racquet sport, seems to come third on the list after tennis and squash, writes Tracy Hargreaves
I grew up playing badminton. My parents played for a local club, so it seemed the natural thing to play as soon as I was old enough and could manage my coordination. I loved it and played for around 10 years at league level, even winning some trophies along the way.
As a nation we are actually pretty good at it, but unlike football or rugby, many people don’t think we have any professional players. It’s probably bigger in Asia than it is in England with many players not even known over here.
It’s a great game, both mentally and physically. Being able to ‘read’ the game is really important and at Olympic level it’s incredibly fast, so fitness is key. Players can smash a shuttlecock at over 400kph, that’s well over 100kph faster than some of the quickest professional tennis serves. Body language, timing and technique also play a big part. It’s a mind game, a bit like playing chess. Trying to confuse your opponent as to what type of shot you are going to play so they stand in the wrong place, or just doing a drop shot over the net, so they have to run for it, can be the difference between winning or losing. It’s also important to have a good relationship with your partner in doubles. The idea being you both work around the court covering it and knowing which shot you are going to take or leave without saying a word. Relationships like that can be hard at first but get the right partner and it can prove a winning formula.
Badminton has its origins in ancient civilisations in Europe and Asia. The ancient game known as battledore (bat or paddle) and shuttlecock probably originated more than 2000 years ago. In the 1600s battledore and shuttlecock was an upper-class past time in England and many European countries. It was actually invented in India, where their version was called poona. British army officers learned the game around 1870 and in 1873, the duke of Beaufort introduced the sport at his country estate, Badminton, from which the game derives its name.
It’s an indoor sport usually played professionally during the winter months. The majority of people will play with a plastic shuttle, whilst professionals will use feathers. While nylon ones can last up to 10 matches easily, the control over the feather shuttles is much higher. They’ll go exactly where you hit them and are much faster. Since the cork of the plastic shuttle is heavier and their wings are not like the feather ones which balance their flight, they tend to be inaccurate.
BADMINTON England is on a mission to get the nation playing badminton. There are lots of places at your local leisure centre or sports facility that will have badminton courts, if you just want to grab a couple of friends and have a go. In fact, there’s around 22,000 badminton courts around the country. It’s a game that can be played at any age and at any level. Why not join one of more than 19,000 affiliated badminton clubs and there’s also coaching available for both children and adults. But if you don’t fancy playing, try watching a match, especially live when the atmosphere can get really tense.