Badminton is a racket sport like tennis or table tennis that involve two opponents trying to keep an object in the air while passing it to one another over a net. The main difference here that differentiates badminton from tennis is that rather than this object being a tennis ball, players instead pass a ‘shuttle cock’ which is a small cone that has feathers coming out of the back.
This shuttle cock is largely what changes the nature of the game due to it is unusual shape and weight. Unlike the tennis ball, a shuttle cock is heavier at its tip than it is behind which causes it to tend to travel in more of an ‘arc’ shape unless hit with some force. At the same time the shuttle cock will lose height more quickly (the feathers create more drag meaning that while the top speed is actually faster, the shuttle cock will decelerate at a much quicker rate) and can only be hit on the rubber nose (unlike a tennis ball which can be hit anywhere).
This means that the net has to go higher in order to allow for that arc-like trajectory and to prevent the shuttle being hit downwards which would be almost impossible to return. The nature of the shuttle as opposed to a ball along with the higher net also means that the pace of the game is different being slightly slower as it goes up and comes back down rather than travelling in a straight line. This leads some fans to claim that the game is more ‘tactical’ than tennis as the player has more chance to carefully place the shuttle cock where they want it to go and to return difficult shots. It also means that a rally tends to last slightly longer and that the sport is more suitable for older players when played casually. One final difference is that the shuttle cock is very light and so can be affected by wind and other wind elements meaning that it is largely played indoors.
Otherwise the game is very similar to tennis with points scored by getting the shuttle to touch the floor on the opponent’s side. Each game is played to 21 points with a match being the best of three games. As in tennis the players stand in diagonally opposite sides of their courts and take it in turns to serve. When a player loses their rally the serve passes to the other player when they will have a chance to win points. There is no ‘second serve’ in badminton. In an interesting quirk, the server will stand in his right service court when their score is an even number and the left when it is odd.
Since 2009 badminton has been an Olympic sport featuring five different events. Like tennis and many other racket sports, badminton can be played as doubles with two teams of two on either side.