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Family Sports

Watch the Birdie

Go old-school this summer with fat-burning games of badminton. The whole family can play this fun sport almost anywhere: a back yard, an empty lot, a campground, or the beach. 

Even though one form of badminton or another has been amusing people for about 2000 years, it’s a relatively new Olympic sport, added in 1992. Since millions love it, why not discover the game yourself?

Like other games, badminton helps you burn calories by keeping you engaged in physical activity. It also sharpens reflexes, builds eye-hand coordination skills, aids agility and endurance and engages your core muscles. Young children learn about gravity from the game, and improve their ability to focus and pay attention. Teens learn more about competitive play, teamwork and fairness. And older adults can play at their own pace and ability levels. All that from a little birdie!

Two-Four Play
Sure, you can get all regulation and formal about badminton, setting up a precisely measured court. But you don’t have to. The bottom line: Badminton is a fun way to burn calories. Play games one-on-one or in teams of two on each side of the net. Here are a few tips on how to get started:

What you need:
  • Most discount stores and sporting goods shops sell new badminton sets from about $30 up, complete with four racquets, two shuttlecocks and a net with pole stakes.  
  • Check out resale shops for used sets and extra racquets so more people can play.

Know the goal:
  • The objective is to hit the shuttlecock (or birdie) over the net so that it hits the ground before your opponent can return it. Therefore, the goal is to also return a volley from your opponent.
  • Take time to practice forehand and backhand strokes before playing any “official” games.

Know the basic rules:
  • As the server, you can only earn points when your opponent allows the birdie to hit the ground on their side of the court, or if they hit it outside the agreed-upon boundaries.
  • Once you serve the birdie over the net to the other side of the court, you’ll begin to be engaged in a rally of racquet strokes that send the birdie back and forth over the net.
  • If you allow the birdie to fall on your side of the court, you don’t get a point and you lose your turn as the server.
  • Hit the birdie outside of the determined court area, and you have committed a foul and the serve goes to the other player.
  • Score one point every time you win your serve. Play until one side wins 21 points. 

Adapt to your environment:

  • Playing at the beach?
  • Draw a line in the sand as the net and place towels at the corners of your ad hoc court.
  • More than four people want to play?
  • Trade out after each side loses their serve and play round-robin style.

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