A Brief History of Badminton
Like many games, a form of badminton was played in ancient Greece and Egypt. In 18th-century India, the game was called Poona, and British officers stationed there brought the game to England when they returned in the 1860s. The sport was introduced at a party given by the Duke of Beaufort at his country estate, Badminton, in Gloucestershire. From there, it was referred to as the game of Badminton, and shortened to badminton. The game spread to the United States and other countries. During the early 20th century, Hollywood's own royalty, including actors James Cagney and Bette Davis, were photographed playing the game, or at least pretending to play the game.
Setting up the Court
Let's get this clear: you don't need an actual court. That said, an official badminton court is 17 feet by 44 feet for a singles match, and 20 feet by 44 feet for a doubles match. A 30-inch-deep, 5-foot-high net divides the court in half. Long and short service lines demarcate the service court (the part where you actually play). The short service line is located 6-1/2 feet back from the net. With doubles, the long service line is 19-1/2 feet back from the net; in singles play it's 22 feet from the net.
Since your backyard badminton court won't be used for the Olympics, you can adjust the court to fit the size of your yard.
Playing the Game
The object of badminton is to hit the shuttlecock -- that small rounded piece of rubber or cork crowned with feathers (or made of plastic) -- over the net and inside the opposite court so that the opponent cannot return it. The server calls out the score before serving, then hits the shuttlecock with an underhand serve, preferably diagonally into the opposite court. The opponent must hit the shuttlecock over the net before it touches the ground. If the opponent doesn't hit the shuttlecock or hits it out of bounds, the server wins one point and gets to serve again. If the opponent does hit the shuttlecock back over the net and it hits the ground before the server hits it, then nobody scores points and the opponent gets to serves. Most badminton games go to 15 points.