The Rules of Badminton – Essentials to Remember


Badminton is one of the most popular racket games in the world. It is like any self-respecting competitive sport, governed by a multitude of very precise rules that allow its practitioners to follow a logic of play. What do you play it with? How is it played? What are the compulsory equipment and what freedoms are granted to the players?

Equipment and limits of the field

Here we will talk about the regulation of :

  • snowshoes: light and about 65 cm long, the sieve is 20 cm wide and weighs between 60 and 100 g.
  • steering wheels: provided by the organizers and it is strictly forbidden to modify them.
  • Clothing: T-shirt or polo shirt and shorts for men, and a skirt for women.
  • terrain

Let’s first talk about the dimensions required for the land. The game is played on a rectangular court 13.40 m long and 6.10 m wide separated into two half-court areas by a net. In the lengths, two strips delimit the field. The outer band is called the doubles sideline and the inner band is called the singles sideline. In the widths, the one outside the frame is called the single long service boundary and the one inside is called the double long service boundary.

The two half-lines are divided into three equal parts; the first in width (side lane) is 1.98 m from the net and the other two middle parts constitute the service lanes occupying 3.88 m in length and 5.18 m in width. The left-hand service lane is called the left-hand service area and the right-hand service area is called the right-hand service area. Both are separated from the side corridor by a line known as the minimum service length limit.


The Basic Rules of Badminton

Mastering Badminton involves assimilating the multitude of small rules that generally characterize racket sports. Here is a non-exhaustive list:

  • The shuttlecock: at the beginning of each match, a player performs the speed test on the shuttlecock.
  • Interruptions and pitch change: 120 seconds of interruption between sets; half-court change at the end of each set and when the 11 points are reached in the third set.
  • Scoring: 21-point set; 2 winning sets; maximum 3 sets; 1 won rally giving one point.
  • The placement of the players: in case of an even score, the player performs the service by placing himself on the right half-court and on the left half-court when the score is odd.
  • The singles game: when the score is even, the service is done on the right half-court.
  • Doubles play: when the score is even, the serve is made on the left side of the court.
  • The service: it is done diagonally in one try.
  • Fouls: incorrect serve or badly used shuttlecock.
  • The stop of the rally or “let”: requested by the referee or a player, it intervenes at the occurrence of an unforeseeable or accidental situation.
  • Penalties: manoeuvres to delay play: yellow card; insults and disrespect or accumulation of yellows: red card; persistent offences: black card plus prosecution.

The Rules of the Game – Singles and Doubles

The basic rule is very simple: to score a point, the shuttlecock must touch the ground in the opponent’s half of the field.

A match is played in 2 winning sets (i.e. 3 sets maximum) of 21 points, with 2 points difference. Thus, when the score is 20-20, one continues until the best player wins by 2 points, and a maximum of 30 points in total. So if the players reach 29-29, the next player who scores the next point wins the set.

The player who wins a set is the one who will start serving in the next set.

These scoring rules are the same for all 5 disciplines of badminton: men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles, mixed doubles.

Where it gets complicated (just a little bit) is that the serving and playing areas are not identical in singles and doubles.

Now that you’ve got the field in your mind, all you have to do is play.

1- Beginning of the game

The players draw lots. Often this is done by throwing the wheel in the air. When it falls back down, the player (or pair) pointing at the cork has won the coin toss.

He can then make his choice regarding the service (serve first or receive) or regarding the side (stay on his side or change). If he has made his choice about the service, the other player (or pair) makes his choice about the side, and vice versa.

For example, player A wins the draw. He chooses the ‘side’, and decides to switch sides. Player B then makes his choice about the ‘service’ and chooses not to serve first. So player A will start the game on the side he has chosen.

In the case of doubles or mixed, within a pair, players are free to choose who will serve and who will receive first.

2- Position of the players

At the beginning of the set and whenever the score is even, the server is positioned on the right and serves diagonally (i.e. on the right for his opponent as well). If the score is odd he serves on the left.

If the server wins the rally he scores the point and serves in the alternate zone.

If the receiver wins the rally, he scores a point and serves.

When the server’s side wins the exchange he scores a point and the same server serves from the other service area.

If it is the camp of the receiver who wins the exchange, he scores a point. The receiver’s side becomes the server. The positions (on the winning side and the losing side) then remain unchanged. 

If during the match it is realized that the positions have been mistakenly reversed at some point, the players reposition themselves but the score remains unchanged.

3- The service

When striking, the racket should be tilted down and the shuttlecock should be struck below the waist. The waist is an imaginary line located at the lowest part of the server’s last rib.

During the execution of the service, both server and receiver must have their feet in a stationary position. The server must have both feet inside the service box.

If the shuttlecock touches the net while serving, play continues normally, even if it has been deflected off course and the opponent has been impeded.

Caution: Only the receiver of the opposing pair is allowed to return the serve. If the other player of the pair returns the serve, the point is lost.

4- Interruption of play and change of field

When the score is first reached in set 11, players are given a 60-second time-out.

Between each set, this break is 120 seconds.

Players change half-court at the end of each set, and in the third set, when the score first reaches 11.

5- Coaching

Advice is allowed, but only when the steering wheel is not in play.

6 – The main faults

It is a foul if the shuttlecock falls outside the boundaries of the court, passes through or under the net, does not cross the net, is hit in the opposite camp, is hit twice in a row by the same player.

It is a foul if the player touches the net or the post with his racket, clothing or body, invades the opponent’s court over the net (unless he “follows” his move), obstructs the opponent (prevents him from executing his shot), deliberately distracts his opponent.

7- The let

There’s a let when someone or something disturbs your land. For example, a steering wheel from another field landing on yours. In this case, you must announce “let” loud enough for your opponent to hear it. The point is then interrupted and replayed.

There can also be a ‘let’ on serve when the shuttlecock hits a structural element of the gym (a basketball hoop, for example). This is always specified in the tournament rules, so pay attention.

However, structural elements are never ‘let’ during play. So, if your shuttlecock touches the ceiling during the game, you lose the point.