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Serving Setting
Scoring Badminton strokes
The court Equipment
Rallying Glossary

The badminton court

The badminton court


History of the game

Objective: Two players (or teams of pairs, single-sex or mixed) hit the shuttlecock (also known as the shuttle) across the net into the opponents half of the court without them being able to return it (if the shuttle hits the ground before the other player(s) can return it).

Most matches are made up of best-of-three games. A game is won by the first player or pair to reach 15 points (11 points for ladies' singles).

It is only the server who can win points. If the receiving (non-serving) player wins a rally, they then become the server.



The players toss a coin or spin a racket to decide who serves first. Serving is done diagonally and the first serve is made from the right hand service court.

The serve must be made underarm, and the racket must hit the shuttle while it is below the server's waist. The server must be standing within the correct service court, with part or all of both feet on the ground.

The server gets one chance to serve correctly. If they miss the shuttle or do anything wrong during the serve, it is a fault, and the serve goes to the opponent.

The receiving player must be in the correct service court, diagonally opposite from the serving player. They must have part of or all of both their feet on the ground. Once the serve has been returned, players can move around the court as they please.

If the shuttle hits the net from the serve, it should be played, either served again if it does not go across the net, or played by the opponent if it does. If it hits the net during play, it would be a fault.

At the serve, receiving players must not move until the shuttle has been hit.

Ends are changed at the end of each game and if the match goes to a deciding game, ends are changed when one player or pair reaches 8 (men) or 6 (ladies).

Serving rules for singles

The server alternates serves between the right and left service courts until the service is lost (they cannot return the shuttle during a volley).

When the receiving player has won the serve, they serve from whichever side of the court they are in.

Both players changes side (to the other service court on their own side of the net) for every serve. If the score is an odd number, it is made from and to the left service court. If the score is an even number, it is made from and to the right service court.

Serving rules for doubles


S - serving player, SP - serving player's partner
R - receiving player, RP - receiving player's partner

Each side has two chances to serve. If they lose the rally on the first serve, they do not pass the serve to the opposing side. Instead, the other person in the pair serves.

If they lose the rally on the second serve, then the serve goes to the opposing pair. When a pair regain the serve from opponents, they serve from the right hand service court.

For the first service of the game, the serving pair are allowed only one chance to serve.

In doubles, it is the pair who are serving who change sides on the court, not the receiving pair.

Each pair of players does not have to alternate hitting the shuttle between them. One player can return two or more consecutive hits in a rally if they wish.


When the serving side win a rally, they add a point to their score.

When the receiving side win a rally, they do not get a point, but they get the right to serve.

The score of the serving side is always put first.

Badminton court dimensions

Badminton court dimensions

The court itself does not have any markings on it. The L and R letters, for left and right, are marked on the diagram above to show which service court is which when facing the net.

The lines of the court count as 'in'. If the shuttle lands on one of the lines, it is in. However, if a player steps onto one of the lines, they are out.


The rally (or volley) is a common term used in this explanation. It is the action of the two players or pairs hitting the shuttle between them. Points are won if a player or team faults (makes a mistake) at the rally.

The most usual ways this would happen are:

- Missing the shuttle

- Not hitting it over the net, or hitting it into the net

- Hitting it outside the court boundary
(if the shuttle lands on a line, it is in, but if a player steps on a line when serving or receiving, they are out)

- Touching the net with body or racket during play

- Hitting the shuttle twice in a row


The shuttle must not be hit until it has come across the net line to the hitting player's side of the court. They can follow through across the net (swing the racket across) as long as they have hit the shuttle on their own side of the net.

During play, the player must not touch the net, slide under it with any part or all of the body, or touch the net on the follow through. If the player lets the racket go and it lands on the opponents side of court, that is also a fault.

If a player is hit by the shuttle, it is a fault against them, whether they were in or out of the court lines when they were hit.

Similarly, if the shuttle brushes a player's clothing, racket, and so on before their team-mate hits it, that counts as a 'touch' and is a fault.

Players can jump to play shots, or play them while lying down, or with one foot on the ground, as long as both feet are on the ground when serving and receiving.


Once the scores reach 13-all in the men's game, the match can be set to 5.

This means that the first player (or team) who reached 13 can either continue playing to 15, or they can decide to play for another 5 points. If they do this, the scores are set at 0-0, and then it is the first player (or team) to 5 who wins.

For example, if the score is 5-4, then the results are recorded as 18-17, not 5-4.

This option also applies for when the scores reach 14-all. If they decide to play for extra points, it is to 3 points instead of 5.

For the ladies' game, the setting is to 3 points at 9-all or 2 points at 10-all.

Setting is not allowed in handicap games.

Types of badminton stroke

A stroke is another name for a hit of the shuttle.

Attacking clear - hit low and fast to the back of the opponents court

Backhand / Forehand smash - hitting the shuttle down fast and steeply into the opponents court

Danish wipe / Swedish swish - a cross between a drive and a lob

Defensive clear - hitting the shuttle high from one baseline to the other

Drive serve - just before hitting the shuttle, the racket is speeded up

Flick serve - the shuttle is played as if to fly low across court, but flipped up as the racket makes contact

High serve - a serve played high, and to the back of the opponents court

Lob - played underhand to return the shuttle when it is low, and to hit it to the opponents baseline

Low serve - dips before crossing the net

Overhead drop shot - looks like a smash, but the shuttle is just dropped gently across the net


The shuttle (or shuttlecock) weighs about 4.8 grammes (one sixth of an ounce). There is a domed base of cork or polyurethane with a small lead weight. The skirt is made of feathers or synthetic (usually plastic) materials.

The racket weighs 100 grammes (3 and a half ounces). It is made of either metal, fibreglass, graphite, with a metal, fibreglass or wooden head with the strings made of natural or synthetic gut. There is also towelling or leather wound around the handle to help grip.


Let - when a point is replayed

Net shot - any shot played from or near to the net

Rush - a fast movement forward by the receiver to hit the shuttle


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