The beginnings of badminton can be traced to mid-18th century British India, where it was created by British military officers stationed there. Early photographs show Englishmen adding a net to the traditional English game of battledore and shuttlecock. Being particularly popular in the British garrison town Poona (now Pune), the game also came to be known as Poona. Initially, balls of wool referred as ball badminton were preferred by the upper classes in windy or wet conditions, but ultimately the shuttlecock stuck. This game was taken by retired officers back to England where it developed and rules were set out.
Although it appears clear that Badminton House, Gloucestershire, owned by the Duke of Beaufort, has given its name to the sports, it is unclear when and why the name was adopted. As early as 1860, Isaac Spratt, a London toy dealer, published a booklet, Badminton Battledore – a new game, but unfortunately no copy has survived. An 1863 article in The Cornhill Magazine describes badminton as “battledore and shuttlecock played with sides, across a string suspended some five feet from the ground”.This early use has cast doubt on the origin through expatriates in India, though it is known that it was popular there in the 1870s and that the first rules were drawn up in Poonah in 1873.
As early as 1875, veterans returning from India started a club in Folkestone. Until 1887, the sport was played in England under the rules that prevailed in British India. The Bath Badminton Club standardized the rules and made the game applicable to English ideas. J.H.E. Hart drew up revised basic regulations in 1887 and, with Bagnel Wild, again in 1890. In 1893, the Badminton Association of England published the first set of rules according to these regulations, similar to today’s rules, and officially launched badminton in a house called “Dunbar” at 6 Waverley Grove, Portsmouth, England on September 13 of that year.They also started the All England Open Badminton Championships, the first badminton competition in the world, in 1899.
The International Badminton Federation (IBF) (now known as Badminton World Federation) was established in 1934 with Canada, Denmark,England, France, the Netherlands, Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland, and Wales as its founding members. India joined as an affiliate in 1936. The BWF now governs international badminton and develops the sport globally.
While initiated in England, competitive men’s badminton in Europe has traditionally been dominated by Denmark. Asian nations, however, have been the most dominant ones worldwide. Indonesia, South Korea, China, and Malaysia along with Denmark are among the nations that have consistently produced world-class players in the past few decades, with China being the greatest force in both men’s and women’s competition in recent years.