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Badminton is a game played by two or four players on a rectangular court with a high net across the middle. The players try to score points by hitting a small object called a shuttlecock across the net using a racket.

Learning the Rules




Understand the object of the game. Badminton, like tennis, is a racket sport that is played by either two players or two teams of two players each. The object is for you or your team to get to 21 points first. You score a point whenever you successfully serve the shuttlecock and your opposing team commits a fault, which means that the team fails to appropriately return the shuttlecock.


  • To win each game, you must earn 21 points first, and win by two in the process. So, if both teams have a score of 20, one team must win by 22-20, and so on.


  • If you and your opponent cannot win by 2 and keep going until the score is 29-all, then the first team to score 30 points wins.



  • The first team to win two games wins the match. If the score is 1-1 in games, you must play a third deciding game.




Get familiar with the badminton court. The badminton court is 44 feet (13.4 m) long by 20 feet (6.1 m) wide. If you’re playing singles, you play on the part that is 44 feet (13.4 m) long but only 17 feet (5.2 m) wide. The net should be positioned halfway across the court, made of three-quarter inch mesh at the 20 foot (6.1 m) mark (17 feet (5.2 m) for singles), 5 feet (1.5 m) above the ground. When you’re playing doubles, the extra 15 feet (1.5 m) on the left and right side of the court (the doubles sidelines) are considered fair game for serving and returning. Here’s what else you need to know:[1]

  • Each side of the court has a right and left service court. The server of one team must serve from one service court to the service court diagonal from it. Players must change courts after each point has been scored.


  • When serving in singles, you can serve to the opponent’s diagonal service box and the back singles line on that side of the course, but not to the wider doubles sideline.



  • When serving in doubles, the player can serve to the opposing team’s diagonal service box, including the doubles sideline, but not the singles long service line.


  • So, for singles service, the receiving court is longer and narrow, and in doubles service, the court is wide and short.



  • After the shuttlecock is successfully served, each team’s entire court becomes fair game. The shuttlecock just has to stay within the bounds of the doubles or singles court.


  • Players can score points once a player commits a fault. If a server forces the opponent to take a fault, a point will be given to the server. If the recipient forces a fault to the server (so the server can’t play it), the recipient will receive the point as well as the recipient becoming the new server for the next play.





Understand the basics of play. Here’s what you need to know before you start your badminton game, beyond the court information and the scoring rules:


  • Toss a coin or have another contest to decide which team will be serving first and which side they will play on.
  • The first serve of a badminton game comes from the right half of the court to the court that is diagonally opposite that court. For the rest of the game, if you have an even number of points serve from the right, if you have an odd number of points, serve from the left.


  • If the serving side commits a fault, then the receiving side gets a point and the serve shifts to that side. If the serving team serves and the receiving side commits a fault, then the serving team moves from one service court to the other and continues to serve. There is a point scored after every serve (unlike in volleyball, for example).



  • In doubles, each team only has one “service.” So, if one player on one team serves and faults, then the shuttle goes to a player on the other team, and so on.


  • When a receiving team wins a point and gets the serve, the team does not switch sides but serves from where they are standing. If they win the first service point, thenthe players switch positions from right to left.



  • After each game, opponents change ends of the court, and the side that won the previous game gets to serve at the start of the next game.





Understand how a player can get a fault. There are several reasons that a team or player can earn a fault. Here they are:[3]

  • When the shuttlecock is served, the shuttlecock must be hit to a point higher or at the server’s waist – otherwise it’s a fault. If any part of the racket at the point of striking wasn’t higher than any part of the serving player’s hand, a fault can be given.
  • If the serving team fails to serve the shuttlecock over the net. The shuttlecock must be hit only once by the same player is to be considered fair in badminton. In badminton, you only get one try on each serve. The only exception is if your team gets a let, which is when the shuttlecock hits the net and falls over into the opponent’s court. In that case, you get another try.


  • If you hit the shuttlecock into or under the net at any point in the game.



  • If the shuttlecock hits you.


  • If you hit the shuttlecock out of bounds or passes around or under the net to the player on the other side. Shuttlecocks falling on the line can be deemed as fair-play.



  • If you hit the shuttlecock on the ground on your side of the court or had extended beyond the longest service line, these contribute to a fault.


  • If the server fails to serve the shuttlecock into the correct opposing court.



  • If any player attempts to (successful or unsuccessful) obstruct their opponent in any way, these contribute to a fault on that player.




Learn the basic ways to strike the shuttlecock. The standard badminton racket is 26 inches (66.0 cm) long and weighs anywhere from 4.5-5.5 ounces. Most of them are made with metal and nylon, and you’ll need to generate enough energy to effectively strike the shuttlecock with this light racket. The main strokes are the forehand and the backhand (as in tennis) and you’ll need a light, quick wrist to effectively strike the shuttle. Here’s what you need to know about striking the shuttlecock


  • It’s all about the footwork. See the shuttle and use several small steps to position yourself so that you can easily strike it instead of having to stretch too much.
  • You’ll need to practice the backswing, the forward swing and hit, and the follow through in order to hit the shuttle effectively. You should hit the shuttle’s round center, not the feathers of the shuttle.


  • Perfect your clear shot. This is the most common shot and the goal is to strike the shuttle in a way that moves your opponent away from the net, which gives you time to set up your next shot.



  • Practice your drop shot. To hit this shot effectively, you’ll have to hit a slow, gentle shot that makes the shuttle fall just over the net, making it hard to reach for your opponent, no matter how fast he runs.

Smash the shuttle. This is a powerful shot that you use to hit a shuttle that is above the height of the net. You’ll need to raise you’re racket behind your back, as if you were going to scratch it.



Make sure to always return to “the stance of readiness” after each shot. After you return their shot, return to the middle of the court, so if they hit it to your left or right, you have more time to react and run to their shot, and return it back. Stay on your toes, and slightly move left and right, so your energy and momentum is still active and you can be ready to run for the next move.


  • This stance means that your feet should be even with your shoulders and parallel and your toes should be pointed toward the net.


  • Keep your knees bent slightly and your racket in your hand with your arm across the front of your body.
  • Don’t stand as if you were just normally standing up, or your body will be far too stiff to move well.



Get ready to move anywhere any time. Be prepared to run up to the net, run cross court, back up all the way to the back service line, or to reach the shuttle from any position. The element of surprise is important here, too, so watch out for your opponent’s tricks.





Go for the overhead as often as you can. The overhead smash is the most powerful shot in the game because it allows you to hit the shuttle as hard and fast as you can, making it as difficult as possible for your opponent to return your shot. Look for opportunities to hit this shot when the shuttle is being returned high in the air.



Keep your opponents running around Don’t hit the shuttle right back to your opponent every time, or you’ll just be making it easier for him or her to hit the shuttle right back. Your goal should be to move your opponent or opponents up and down the court or back and forth across the court so they get winded and tired and don’t have the opportunity to properly return the shuttle.



Have a method to your madness. Don’t just aim to hit the shuttle back and hope that your opponent messes up; have an idea of where you’re going to hit it, how you’re going to hit it, and why you’re going to hit it a certain way. If you just blindly swing at the shuttle, you won’t get very far.


Mix it up. Though always aiming for the overhead is nice, or hitting mostly forehands cross-court because that’s your best shot is a good idea, if you do the same thing every time, your opponents will begin to catch on pretty fast. It’s important to keep the element of surprise going, so your opponents are likely to be caught off guard and won’t quite ever know what to expect when they play against you.


  • This includes where you serve, which shots you prefer, and where you tend to hit the shuttle.





Exploit your opponent’s weaknesses. If you want to win, then you have to make your opponent play your game and make him as uncomfortable as possible. If your opponent has a weak backhand (as most beginners tend to have), hit the shuttle repeatedly toward his backhand. If he’s slow on his feet, move him around. If he loves to play near the net, hit your shots long and hard. If your opponent loves the smash shot, don’t hit the shuttle in the air. Be attuned to your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses so you can win as easily as possible.


  • It’s important to observe your opponent closely. Whether you’re starting a game or just rallying for fun, be on the lookout for your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses as early as possible