From India to England: Origins of Badminton

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Last Updated on 04/11/2023 by Kriss

Ever swung a racket, felt the satisfying ‘thwack’ of contact, and watched as the shuttlecock soared across the net? That’s badminton, a game we all know and love. But have you ever wondered what the origins of badminton are?

You are in the right place! Today we’ll travel back in time from when it was just a leisure activity in ancient India called Poona, right up to its current status as an Olympic sport.

Let’s dive right in!

The Origins of Badminton: From Poona to a Global Phenomenon

Badminton, with its rich history and cultural roots in ancient India, has come a long way from being just a leisure activity. Known as the game of Poona back then, it evolved into an internationally recognized sport over centuries.

British Soldiers and the Game of Poona

British military officers stationed in India during colonial times had their first encounter with this fascinating game called Poona. The simple yet engaging gameplay intrigued these soldiers so much that they decided to take it back home.

Poona was primarily played by children who used wooden paddles to hit the shuttlecock onto their opponent’s court. This setup didn’t involve any boundary lines or rule adaptations initially but gradually developed more structure due to British influence.

Note: Badminton's predecessors had multiple names in India during the 19th century. Poona is just one of them. It also referred to as Tomfool, Ball Badminton and Phul. Today Poona is moslty known as Ball Badminton.

The Influence of Ball Badminton

Ball badminton is one of the origins of badminton. But there are stark differences too; for instance, players hit lightweight balls (about 30gr) instead of feathered shuttles. Ball badminton is also played in teams with 5 players each on the court.

Although ball badminton might not enjoy the same popularity as badminton, it played a crucial role in shaping badminton’s concept. The establishment of a net, fixed court dimensions, and the competitive spirit (as opposed to the cooperative nature of battledore and shuttlecock) all originated from ball badminton. There are still ball badminton competitions held today – but mostly in India.

Check the video below for a match of this exciting sport:

Key Takeaway: 

Though less popular today, ball badminton, or Poona, significantly influenced badminton’s development and remains popular in India. Badminton borrowed the net, a court and rackets from this old indian sport.

The Influence of Battledore and Shuttlecock on Badminton

Badminton had multiple influences. It also owes its roots to an ancient game called battledore and shuttlecock. This fascinating pastime was played with simple wooden paddles (battledores) and a small feathered object (shuttlecock).

Around the 12th century, people played a game where they hit a shuttlecock with their hands. These shuttlecocks were similar to the ones we know today – but larger and had a rougher texture. This hurt their hands, so they started using bats and rackets.

Also read: The Intricate Process of Crafting Feather Badminton Shuttlecocks: A Detailed Guide

In 1505, people started using these rackets to play faster games, which led to sports like badminton and tennis. Over time, battledore and shuttlecock became very popular. The first official rules for the game came in 1767, and they added a net to make the game harder. Just like Poona, battledore and shuttlecock helped shape badminton.

Over time, people stopped playing it because it was too easy and not as competitive. With additional influences, badminton became one of the hardest and fastest sports we know today.

Differences Between Poona, Battledore and Shuttlecock, and Badminton

1. Poona: Poona is often viewed as an ancestor to today’s badminton. Unlike badminton, which employs a shuttlecock, Poona is played with a ball. The expansive Poona court allows for five players on each side, offering a more expansive game compared to badminton’s maximum of two players per team. Moreover, while competitive badminton is predominantly an indoor sport, Poona can be played outdoors.

2. Battledore and Shuttlecock: This game is less about competition and more about collaboration. Players, using a shuttlecock, come together on a single team, striving to keep the rally alive for as long as possible. In its inception, when rackets and shuttlecocks were in their primitive forms, achieving a prolonged rally was a notable achievement. Unlike badminton, which has clear boundaries and can host up to four players, Battledore and Shuttlecock is more casual, allowing up to eight players and lacking fixed boundaries.

Kid playing badminton
Battledore and Shuttlecock are more casual games.

3. Badminton: Emerging from both games, modern badminton blends Poona’s competitive essence and defined boundaries with the shuttlecock from Battledore and Shuttlecock.

Badminton’s Journey to England and Its Naming

The game of badminton, as we know it today, didn’t just spring into existence overnight. It was a slow process that began in India with other influences from France and Greece.

Poona was an outdoor leisure activity played by British military officers stationed there during the colonial era. But when these soldiers returned home, they brought this intriguing new game back with them to England.

Arrival at Duke of Beaufort’s Country Estate: Badminton House

The popularization and eventual naming of ‘badminton’ is largely credited to Duke Charles Somerset, who lived on his family estate known as “Badminton House.” The story goes that he became quite fond of playing this imported Indian game and often hosted matches within his grand country house walls.

So naturally, guests started calling this new pastime ‘The Game Of Badminton,’ after the location where they first encountered it. And so stuck the name.

The Formation of the Badminton Association & Rules Standardization

  • A few years later came the formation of The Badminton Association of England in 1893, marking a significant milestone in badminton’s history.
  • This newly formed association quickly got to work and released an official set of rules for this rapidly spreading sport – providing some much-needed structure.

Since then, the game has grown leaps and bounds. The International Badminton Federation (IBF) now oversees it. They organize international tournaments like World Championships and even have a place in the Olympic Games. Evidently, badminton has become an esteemed sport on the world stage played by millions of players.

The Establishment and Role of the International Badminton Federation

Let’s travel back in time to 1934. That year marked a pivotal moment for badminton as the International Badminton Federation (IBF), now known as the Badminton World Federation, was formed. This globally recognized governing body breathed life into the still quite new game, propelling it onto international platforms.

Who were the pioneers behind this movement? Nine countries, namely England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Denmark, The Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, and France were the original founders of this influential governing body.

The Expansion of Badminton Associations Globally

A key part of their mission was to grow badminton across borders. In 1959 badminton was featured the first time at the SEA Games and at the Chinese National Games.

But how did the BWF influence global sport? To start with, they gave structure by standardizing rules which allowed fair play worldwide. Moreover, by promoting championships at different levels, they let everyone experience high-stakes competition firsthand.


Unveiling the origins of badminton has been quite a journey. From its roots as a leisure game called Poona in India, it evolved dramatically.

The British military officers stationed there played their part, transforming this simple activity into an engaging sport with rules and strategy.

Then came Badminton House – where the Duke of Beaufort introduced this captivating pastime to England. The formation of the Badminton Association helped spread its wings even further.

The International Badminton Federation was the final piece of the puzzle in establishing badminton’s international presence. It truly cemented badminton’s place on the global stage and led to its inclusion in major competitions like Olympic games.

FAQs in Relation to Origins of Badminton

Where did badminton originate?

Badminton was born in India, originally known as Poona. British military officers stationed there brought the game back to England.

What is the history and origin of badminton?

The sport’s roots trace back to a game called Poona in India. It evolved into modern badminton when it reached England, where rules were formalized.

Who invented the badminton sport?

No single person invented Badminton. It developed over time from earlier games like battledore and shuttlecock, with key developments occurring during its journey from India to Britain.

Was badminton invented in China?

No, Badminton wasn’t invented in China. The birthplace of this racket sport is actually India where it began as a local pastime named ‘Poona’ before reaching global popularity.



Ball Badminton Rules:

Badminton England:

Battledore and Shuttlecock:

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