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Rules of Badminton

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Badminton can be played either as a singles game by two people, or as a double game for four players. To play badminton you will need badminton racquets, a shuttlecock, a clear area to play on (if not playing on a designated badminton court), and a badminton net.

The badminton court

A badminton court measures 6.1 metres width by 13.4 metres length (17ft width x 44ft length). When playing a doubles badminton game, the full width of the badminton court is used, but when playing singles, the width of the playing area of badminton court is reduced to 5.18 metres (a little under 16ft). Side parallel lines are marked along the sides of the badminton court to show both the single and double game badminton court boundaries.


On both sides of the badminton court there is a horizontal line, positioned in front of the badminton net to mark the forward boundary of the service area. From the centre of this line, there is a vertical line that divides the service area into two boxes, these are the service boxes where the player who is to make or receive a service must stand. At the back of the badminton court are two horizontal parallel lines which show the end of the service area. The closest horizontal line indicates the limit of the singles service area, the further line shows the limit of the badminton double service area.

The badminton net.

The height of a badminton net is 1.55 metres (5ft 1inch) from the ground, measured from the outside bottom edges of the badminton net, to the ground. The width of the badminton net should be 762cms (2ft 6inches), and the poles that support the badminton net should be placed outside the double line.


If badminton is to be played outside or in an area that is not strictly a badminton court, this rule can be waived. For a fun game of badminton to be played with family, children or friends, the height of the badminton net can be set according to your own requirements.

Beginning the game.

Begin the badminton match by tossing a coin to decide who serves first and which end of the badminton court that the side that wins the toss wants to play. When playing mixed doubles badminton, it is customary that a female player serves first.

Serving positions

When beginning a badminton match, the server must serve from the right hand service box first. The opposing team player who must receive the shot, should stand diagonally opposite the server and remain within their marked service area or box. This is the box on their right hand side. When playing a doubles match, the shuttlecock must be returned by this player from their box and not by his or her partner from any other position.


If the shuttlecock lands outside the service area, it is a fault and play then passes to the opposing side. When playing a singles badminton match, the same rule applies. The receiving player must receive the shuttlecock into their serving area or the serving player loses the service and the opposing side gains a point.


If the serving side successfully wins the point they should continue to serve. This time the serving position is swapped to the adjacent box. When playing a doubles badminton match, the same pattern should be followed. The same player continues serving, swapping serving sides with his or her team mate each time a point has been won. He should serve to both the opposition players in turn.


When the serving side loses the service, the opposition’s service should be arranged in the following way : If the badminton side’s score is an even number, the player on the right hand side should serve, if an odd number then the player on the left side should serve. When playing singles badminton this rule decides which box the player should serve from.


The player on the opposing side who must receive the service should remain within their box. However the other players can move where they like as long as it is within the boundaries of the badminton court and they do not indulge in distracting behaviour.

The serving shot

The server should hold the badminton racquet, pointing it in a downwards direction towards the ground. The badminton racquet should then be swung in an upwards fluid motion so that it makes contact with the shuttlecock being held in the other hand at a height no higher than waist level. The base of the shuttle cock should be hit in one motion. Striking the shuttlecock on the feathered end is not permissible when serving The server should not move his or her feet until the shuttlecock has left the badminton racquet.


The shuttlecock must arrive on the opponent’s side of the badminton net, within the box where the opposing player is waiting to receive it. If the shuttlecock is hit elsewhere on the badminton court, then it is counted as a fault and the receiving side wins a point and service passes to them.


There are no double faults in badminton, as in tennis. If a serve is made that has a fault, the serving side simply loses the service and the receiver’s side wins a point and the next service.


If playing badminton outside and not on a proper court, some boundaries should be laid down before play begins, for example if the shuttlecock reaches the flower bed or crosses a path, it is out. A badminton court can be easily marked out by using natural markers and perhaps jumpers or other commonplace objects can be used to roughly indicate the boundaries of the serving areas.


Badminton matches are played over a series of three games, with the side who wins the most games, winning the match.


Each game is played up to 21 points. When a badminton side wins a rally, they receive one point and the right to serve for the next point.


Badminton games must be won with a two point advantage or lead. If both badminton sides reach 20 points the game should continue until one side gets a lead of two points. If this does not happen, then the first team or player to reach 30 points wins the game, even if there is not a two point lead. Faults result in the opposing team winning a point.

General rules

The shuttlecock can only be hit once per turn. The badminton players are not allowed to pass the shuttlecock to each other and are not allowed to have more than one shot when it is on their side of the badminton court.


It is acceptable to hit the feathered end or any other part of the shuttlecock during general play.


If the shuttlecock lands outside the boundaries of the badminton court, the receiving team or player gets the point and the service.


The shuttlecock must make it over the badminton net and failure to hit the shuttlecock over the net results in a point for the receiving team.


After the initial service, the shuttlecock can be hit anywhere within the boundaries of the badminton court and returned by either player, if playing doubles.


A let can be given if something happens to disrupt the flow of the badminton match. If playing badminton outside in a public area, this could be anything from a dog wandering onto the court or a player being distracted by something. A let results in a badminton rally being replayed and the previous point cancelled, and should be made at the umpire or the team members discretion,