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What are the basic rules of Badminton?

The complete guide to the basic rules of badminton

If you're new to the game of badminton or simply want to brush up on the basics, then you've come to the right place.

In this article, we will take a look at the basic rules of badminton, the types of badminton games played, and a general overview of the badminton court and game.

Table Of Contents

what are the basic rules of badminton

The History of Badminton

The history of badminton can be traced back to ancient civilizations in countries like Greece, Egypt, and China. It is believed that a game similar to badminton was played by the Greeks over 2000 years ago, where players used a racquet made from parchment stretched across a wooden frame and hit a shuttlecock made of feathers and cork.

In the 16th century, the game evolved into what we know as badminton today with its popularity spreading throughout Europe. The game was known by different names such as 'shuttlecock', 'poona' (named after the Indian city where it gained popularity), and finally 'badminton', named after the Duke of Beaufort's country estate in Gloucestershire, England where he introduced the game to his guests.

Badminton was initially played outdoors on lawns until around 1873 when it started being played indoors in England. The first official set of rules for badminton were published in 1893 by the Badminton Association of England, making it one of the oldest organized sports.

In 1934, Sir George Alan Thomas developed standardized rules for badminton which included dividing the court into two halves with a net running through its center. This format has remained mostly unchanged since then.

national Badminton Federation (now known as Badminton World Federation) was formed in 1934 with nine founding members including Great Britain, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand and Ireland. The first international tournament, the Thomas Cup, was held in 1948 and is still considered the most prestigious team event in badminton.

Badminton made its debut as an Olympic sport at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, with both singles and doubles events for men and women. It has been a regular part of the Summer Olympics ever since.

Today, badminton is played by millions of people worldwide and is a popular recreational activity as well as a highly competitive sport. The Badminton World Federation now has over 175 member associations, making it one of the largest international sports organizations.

In recent years, there have been advancements in equipment technology and playing styles, making badminton faster and more exciting to watch. It continues to evolve and gain popularity around the world, solidifying its place as one of the most widely played sports today.

The Basic Objective

The objective of badminton is to hit the shuttlecock over the net and land it within the boundaries of your opponent's court, while preventing them from doing the same. The game can be played in singles (one player on each side) or doubles (two players on each side). The first player or team to reach 21 points wins a game, with a minimum two-point lead.

Types of badminton games

There are many different types of badminton games to choose from. In this section, we will explore some of the most common and exciting variations of badminton.

1. Singles Game:

The singles game is the most traditional form of badminton and is played between two players on opposite sides of the court. This game requires a lot of speed, agility, and precision as players try to outmaneuver each other and score points by hitting the shuttlecock over the net onto their opponent's side.

2. Doubles Game:

Similar to the singles game, doubles badminton is played with two teams consisting of two players each. In this game, partners must work together to cover their respective sides of the court and strategically hit shots in order to outplay their opponents.

3. Mixed Doubles Game:

As the name suggests, mixed doubles is a variation where one male and one female player team up against another male-female pairing. This adds an extra layer of strategy as players must adjust their playing style based on their partner's strengths.


Mini-badminton or "mini-bad" is a simplified version of regular badminton designed for younger children or beginners. The equipment used in mini-bad includes smaller rackets and lower nets making it easier for kids to learn and play.

The Scoring System

The scoring system in badminton is relatively simple and straightforward. The basic rule of the game is that the winner is determined by who reaches 21 points first, with a margin of at least two points. However, there are some additional rules and nuances to keep in mind when keeping score during a badminton match.

1. Scoring Points:

Points are scored when one side successfully hits the shuttlecock onto their opponent's court within the boundary lines. If both sides hit the shuttlecock back and forth without it touching the ground or going out of bounds, then no point is awarded. The image below shows where abouts the shuttlecock can land on the oppenents side of the court to win a point in a singles game, after the serve.

Singles game point boundries (after serve)
Singles game point boundries (after serve)

2. When to Switch Sides:

In badminton, players switch sides after every odd-numbered points (i.e., 1, 3, 5...). This is to ensure fairness as factors such as wind or lighting can affect gameplay on one side of the court.

3. Faults and Lets:

If a player commits a fault during gameplay, they lose the rally and give a point to their opponent. Some common faults include hitting the shuttlecock out of bounds or into the net, failing to return it before it touches the ground, or touching any part of their body or clothing with their racket while playing.

However, if both players commit a fault simultaneously (for example, if they both touch the net), then it is considered a 'let,' and no points are awarded. In this case, an attempt will be made to replay the rally.

4. Maximum Points:

In a standard badminton game, the maximum number of points that can be won is 30. If there is a tie at 29-29, then the side that first reaches 30 points will win the game.

5. Winning the Match:

A badminton match is typically played as a best-of-three sets format. To win the match, a player or team must win two out of three sets. Each set is played to 21 points, and as mentioned earlier, there must be a margin of at least two points to win.

If both sides are tied at one set each, then a third and final set will be played to determine the winner. In this case, the first side to reach 15 points (with a margin of two) will be declared the winner.

6. Scoring in Doubles Matches:

In doubles matches, each side has two players, and they must take turns hitting the shuttlecock until they lose a rally. The scoring in doubles follows the same rules as singles matches; however, there are some additional rules to keep in mind:

- Only one player on each side can hit the shuttlecock at any given time.

- At the beginning of a doubles game or when one side reaches 11 points, the pairs switch sides.

- If a pair commits a fault, then the opponent pair gets the point, and they will continue serving.

- If a fault is committed by both players on the same team (for example, if they both touch the net), then it is considered a let, and the rally will be replayed.

The image below shows where abouts the shuttlecock can land on the oppenents side of the court to win a point in a doubles game, after the serve.

Doubles game point boundries (after serve)
Doubles game point boundries (after serve)

Overall, understanding and following these rules will ensure fair and accurate scoring during a badminton match. It's always best to have an official scorekeeper or umpire to avoid any disputes or confusion.

Court Dimensions and Markings

badminton court layout
Badminton court layout in its purest form

Court Dimensions:

A standard badminton court measures 44 feet in length and 17 feet in width for singles matches. For doubles matches, the court size expands to 44 feet by 20 feet. These measurements are regulated by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) and must be strictly followed during competitive play.

The net divides the court into two equal halves, measuring roughly 15.5 feet between the short service line and the baseline. The net stads 5.1 feet high at opposing ends and slightly sags in the middle to 5 feet.

Court Markings:

The badminton court has specific markings that determine which areas are considered 'in' or 'out' during play.

- Baseline: This marks the end of each side of the court. It runs parallel to the net.

- Short service line: Located halfway between midcourt and baseline, this line indicates where players must stand while serving.

- Midcourt line: Dividing each half of the court, this line determines which side you should be standing on when serving.

- Centerline: Runs perpendicular to the net, dividing the court into left and right sides.

- Side boundary lines: These lines run parallel to the sidelines and are used to determine if a shot is 'in' or 'out.'

- Service courts: These are marked with a diagonal line from each side of the short service line to each sideline. Only the serving team may occupy this area during play.

singles badminton court layout
Singles badminton court layout

Additionally, there are smaller court markings that indicate specific areas for doubles play:

- Long service line: Located in the back half of the court, this line indicates where serves must land for doubles matches.

- Doubles alley: The extended area on each side of the court beyond the singles sideline. This is only used in doubles matches.

doubles badminton court layout
Doubles badminton court layout

It's important to note that all lines on a badminton court should be at least 2 inches thick and clearly visible to players.

Understanding and following these court dimensions and markings is crucial in playing badminton successfully. They not only dictate where players should stand during different parts of the game but also determine which shots are considered 'in' or 'out.' With proper knowledge and practice, you can use these boundaries to your advantage during a match.

Serving Rules

Serving in badminton can make or break a game. Not only does it determine who starts with the first point, but it also sets the tone for the entire match. It’s crucial to know and abide by the serving rules to have a fair and competitive game.

Here are some basic rules of serving in badminton:

1. The Serve Must Be Diagonal:

As per official badminton rules, every serve must be hit diagonally from right to left or left to right. This means if you’re standing on the right side of the court, your serve must go towards the left side of your opponent’s court and vice versa.

2. Contact with Shuttle:

The shuttlecock must be contacted below waist level in order for a serve to be considered legal. The server’s racket should pass beneath their waistline while making contact with the shuttle.

3. Server’s Feet Position:

The server must have both feet behind the back boundary line when making contact with the shuttlecock during a serve. Their feet should not touch or cross over this line until after they have served.

4. The Serve Must Be Underhanded:

Unlike tennis where players are allowed to use an overhand serve, badminton players must use an underhand serve. This means the racket should be below the server’s waist and their arm should not be fully extended when making contact with the shuttle.

5. The Serve Must Be Made Within The Designated Serve Area:

At the start of every game, players must decide which side will serve first. The server must always start from the right side of the court and make their serve within the designated service area. This area stretches from the right-hand court boundary all to way to the short service line.

singles serve score is even
Singles serve (server score is even)

Singles serve (server score is odd)
Singles serve (server score is odd)

6. Serving In Doubles:

In doubles, both players on a team get to serve before it rotates back to the opposing team. During a serve, only one player can make contact with the shuttle at a time. If a server fails to hit the shuttle or if they hit it outside of their designated service area, it is considered a fault.

Doubles serve (server score is even)
Doubles serve (server score is even)

Double serve (server score is odd)
Double serve (server score is odd)

7. Out Of Rotation Serve:

If you are playing doubles and fail to rotate between serves, it is considered out of rotation and can result in losing a point.

8. Re-serve Or Let Service:

Sometimes during a serve, unforeseen events may occur that interfere with play such as another player crossing into your designated service area or an object falling onto the court. In these cases, a re -serve or let service can be called by the umpire. A re-serve means that the serve is replayed while a let service means that the point does not count and the serve continues.

Understanding and following these serving rules in badminton is crucial for a fair and competitive game. Make sure to practice your serves and always follow the official rules to ensure a fun and enjoyable experience for everyone playing.

Faults and Penalties

Faults in badminton refer to any infractions or mistakes made by a player during a match. These can be categorized into two types: service faults and game faults.

Service faults occur when serving the shuttlecock, we covered these in the service rules section above. There are several rules that must be followed when serving in badminton, such as standing within the designated service court, hitting below waist height, and ensuring the shuttlecock passes over the net and lands within the opponent's service court. If any of these rules are not followed, it will result in a service fault.

On the other hand, game faults occur during gameplay and can be committed by either side. These include:

1) Hitting the shuttlecock out of bounds - if a player hits the shuttlecock outside of their opponent's designated play area (the lines indicating where shots should land), it will result in a fault.

2) Touching the net - players are not allowed to touch or interfere with the net at any time during a match.

3) Double-hit - this happens when a player hits the shuttle twice consecutively without it touching their opponent's racket or body first.

4) Carrying - if a player holds onto or guides the shuttle on their racket for an extended period , it will result in a fault.

5) Playing a shot on the wrong side of the court - during doubles play, players must switch sides after every point. If a player plays a shot while standing on the wrong side of the court, it will result in a fault.

In addition to these faults and penalties, players must also abide by basic etiquette rules when playing badminton. These include not distracting or obstructing your opponent and respecting their right to play their shots without interference.

In conclusion, understanding and following regulations and the basic rules of badminton is crucial for fair gameplay and maintaining good sportsmanship. Players should familiarize themselves with common faults and penalties to avoid losing points or being disqualified from a match.


What is the scoring system in badminton and how does it work?

Each match consists of three games, and the first player or team to win two out of these three games emerges triumphant. In each game, players aim to score 21 points by successfully landing their shots within the boundaries on their opponent's side of the court. However, if both players reach a tie at 20-20, an exciting rule called "setting" comes into play. During this phase, players must continue playing until one achieves a two-point lead over their opponent (e.g., 22-20). Moreover, if both sides manage to reach an intense deadlock at 29-29 during setting, whoever scores the next point wins that particular game!

Can you explain the basic rules regarding serving in badminton?

How do you determine whether a shot is considered 'in' or 'out' during a game?

What are some common fouls or violations that players should be aware of during a game of badminton?


In conclusion, understanding the basic rules of badminton is paramount for players looking to excel in this exhilarating sport. These guidelines serve as a solid foundation that ensures fair play and an enjoyable experience on the court. Players must familiarize themselves with crucial aspects such as the scoring system, which operates on a rally point format, awarding one point per successful shot regardless of serving status. Additionally, grasping concepts like faults and lets is essential to avoid penalties during gameplay; for instance, if the shuttlecock fails to clear the net or lands outside designated boundaries, it results in a fault. Furthermore, mastering techniques like serving correctly – underhand and below waist level – adds strategic depth to one's game by strategically positioning opponents into disadvantageous positions. Embracing these fundamental principles not only enriches player competence but also fosters a deeper appreciation for badminton's intricacies and sportsmanship at its finest.

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