Rules and Scoring in Badminton

Badminton is a sport that is now played all around the world. This racket game is an indoor sport played in a specific court divided by a net and governed by a fixed set of rules and scoring in badminton. Badminton is indeed a very popular mainstream sport with a set of fixed rules and regulations.

In this article, we will describe rules of play and scoring involved in the game. First , let’s have a brief overview of rules and then we’ll delve deeper into the structure and regulations set for Badminton Scoring.

A Brief Overview of Rules and Scoring in Badminton

Every match played is decided based on three games consisting of 21 points.

Also, the side that wins a rally will go on to add a point to their kitty.

If the game stands at 20 All, the side that successfully gains a 2 point lead before the other will eventually move on to win the game.

If the game stands at 29 all at any time, the side that gets successful in scoring the 30th point will win that game.

The winning side gets the chance to serve in the next game.

Rules in Badminton

General Rules and Scoring in Badminton 

Let’s now look at the general rules of badminton, objectives, players and equipment, Scoring, and other winning rules.

Objectives of the Game

The general badminton rules state that as an expert badminton player, your objective is to hit the shuttlecock over the net and try to land it in the different designated areas around your court.

However, it is when the opponent successfully manages to return the shuttlecock that a rally occurs.

You will win a point when your opponent hits the shuttle into the net or outside the designated areas. Either player may win a point with a serve. You need 21 points to win game and the match is usually won based on the best of 3 sets of game.

The Badminton Rules

The game of badminton can be played as a singles game (involving two players or as a double or mixed game (involving four players).

The position of the net is fixed at 1.55 m through the middle of the court.

Players need to serve their opponents diagonally across the net.

Once you start winning the points, the serving position moves from one side to the other.

You get only one service, and if it lands into the net of outside the service area, then your opponent will win a point.

You should below your waist or underarm. Overarm serve is not allowed in the game.

If you need to score a point, you need to hit the shuttlecock within your opponent court’s parameters.

However, if the shuttlecock fails to hit your opponent’s court and hits the net or anywhere outside, you will fail to score, and the point will be awarded to your opponent.

Every game will be initiated with a toss to determine the player who gets the chance to serve and choose the court from where he wants to serve first.

After the game is initiated, the players will have the liberty of moving around in their sides of the court or hit the shuttlecock even from outside the court.

If any part of a player’s body or the racket touches the net, it will be deemed a fault, thereby giving an additional point to the opponent’s kitty.

If you deliberately distract your opponent, it will also be deemed as a fault. A few other faults include when the shuttlecock is held in the racket before it gets flung, or if it is hit twice or if any of the players continue to infract with the different badminton rules intentionally.

A referee is appointed as an umpire of the game who overlooks the entire proceedings sitting in a high-chair.

Apart from that, a few line-judges are also appointed for constantly monitoring if the shuttlecocks land inside or outside the specified parameters. However, the referee’s decision will have overriding effects on the decisions made for faults and infringements.

The decision of the referee will be final in case of an accidental or unforeseen situation. Some of these situations include the shuttlecock getting stuck at the bet, a player not ready for the service, a server playing his serve out of turn, or any other decision which would be too close to take a call.

There are only two resting periods in a game consisting of a short 90 seconds break after the first game and a long five-minute pause after the second.

If a player tries to play foul or break the rules continuously, then the referee will be entitled to dock him off his points by always awarding a foul. The referee will also have the right to forfeit his game set or even the match.

Rules in Badminton

About the Players and their Sets

The game of badminton is played in two forms – singles and doubles. The players use a stringed racket similar to the tennis racket, with its head being slightly smaller and a shuttlecock.

The shuttlecock is created of a half-round rubber ball at the base and feather-like structure surrounding the top. This makes the shuttlecock lighter.

The players can only hit the bottom of the shuttlecock, and due to the forces of gravity, the ball will always revert to the side facing down. You have only one chance of hitting the shuttlecock before it goes over the net or hits the ground.

As mentioned earlier, the court’s measurement is a crucial aspect that cannot have an error. It is generally a  rectangular court with a 1.55 m long net runs across the middle of the rectangular court.

Two tram lines also run along each side of the court. The inside of these lines determines the singles games’ parameters while the outside of the same are used for double matches.

Scoring System in Badminton

The Badminton scoring system is not very complex. You can score a point if you are successful in hitting the shuttlecock over your side of the net and make land in your opponent’s court before they can even make a hit.

You can also score a point with the rule vice-versa when your opponent cannot hit the shuttlecock within the parameters or lands straight within the net. Let us elaborate further for a better understanding.

All about Points, Games, and Matches

You are eligible to score a point every time you win a rally. The first player who reaches 21 points in total first goes on to win the game. However, the match is always the bigger picture. If you win two out of three games, you will be able to register a victory for yourself in the match.

You get to serve the next set after registering a win in a rally. So, if your opponent served the last game, the service passes on to you. However, if you served the last game, you will continue to serve this one as well.

A Two-Pointer Lead for a Win

You need to score a minimum of two points more than your opponent to register a win. If, in any situation, the score reaches 20-20, then the minimum of 21 points does not qualify for a win. You need to win “two clear points,” two consecutive points one after the other, to register a win at the game.

So, in that case, 22-20 would be the next possible winning score, then 23-21 and so on. However, you cannot win the game with the point board tallies at 23-24 or 21-20.

The rule for badminton scoring becomes slightly different when there is a score tally of 30-29. 30 being the upper limit of the game win, it prevents the games from dragging for too long.

This rule implies, especially at the top-level games, when stretching the game excessively will only expose the athlete to injury.

Speaking Out the Server’s Score before Each Rally

Speaking our server’s score before every service and rally is considered a good practice. Losing track of the score is no big deal. So, reiterating the score aloud before every rally is the best option for keeping away from disputes and keeping the game healthy.

While you reaffirm the score, always make it a point to say the server’s score first. So, if you are the server of a particular match and have scored 12 points, and even if your opponent is at the winning score at the moment with 18 points, the score will be 12-18 and not 18-12.

Winning the Match

The rule of winning the game is quite simple. You must attain 21 points before your opponent. If you can achieve that milestone, you can easily win that set.

However, if under any scenario, the scores are tied at 20-20, whichever player manages to win two clear points ahead of the other will be declared the winner of the game.

In another situation, if the points get tied at 29-29, then the next point will be the decisive point to declare the winner of the set. You need to win at least two out of three sets to win the match. So, it could be either two or three games in the match, depending on the winning streak.

Scoring in Doubles

Calculating the scores of a Doubles game is comparatively more straightforward. In this case, instead of allocating points to a single individual, the point is awarded to the pair. However, in this case, the most significant confusion is the decision on the server, receiver, and the side they should be on.

Here the odd/even rule holds. So, if the server’s score is odd, they will have to serve from the court’s left side, and vice versa for the even score. Like the rule for the singles game, the receiver will also have to stand at the diagonally opposite end of the service court.

If the serving side wins a rally, they will serve again, but from the different service court. However, in this case, the service does not change hands and remains with the same person throughout the game until the opponent team wins a rally and gets the opportunity to serve.

The other aspects of the scores remain pretty much the same.

Rules in Badminton

General Service Rules

Service is the term defined for starting the rally. Someone will be hitting the shuttlecock first. Special restrictions are placed on the service, which does not necessarily apply for the rally. This is specially done to prevent the server from gaining an undue advantage in the game.

The receiver is generally the person who takes the second shot at hitting the shuttlecock. In a Doubles match, the partner of the receiver is not allowed to hit this shot.

How to start with the service

The general rule of service implies that the server must hit the shuttlecock with an underarm hitting action upward. Playing a “tennis style” serve is prohibited.

The main rule that you must remember in this case is that when you get the opportunity of hitting the shuttlecock, it should always be below your waist. To be more precise, the rule clearly states that the shuttlecock’s serving height must be on par with the lowest part of the server’s ribcage.

You can always be a little higher than the top of the height of your shorts. However, this height should not be way too much.

The Service Court

Service courts are referred to as smaller box shapes inside the court. However, before delving further into the subject matter, let us discuss elaborately on the court’s different aspects.

The first thing that you may notice is that the badminton court is divided with a line in the middle. It is called the center line and extends from the back to near the net. The centerline meets another line near the court’s front, which is known as the front service line. The place where these two lines meet, they form a “T” shape.

The single service court is created with four lines, namely:

The Front Service Line

The Center Line

The Singles sideline (which is situated inside the sideline)

the Backline (situated at the back on the outside)

You have two service courts on each side of the net. These are termed as the right service court and the left service court, and they exist simultaneously for both the players.

The structure of a doubles service court is a little different from the singles service court. They make use of the outside sideline, which makes them more comprehensive. Also, Since they also use the inside backline, they tend to become shorter than the single service court.

The inside backline is specially constructed for use in the doubles service court. It has no other work, thereby making it the most confusing line on a badminton court.

To make a brief synopsis of the above statements, the doubles service court comprises four lines, including:

The Front Service Line

The Centre Line

The Doubles Side-Line (the outside sideline)

The Inside Backline (not the exactly last line but the next one immediately inside)

Rules in Badminton

How to use the different service courts

There are typically three uses of service courts.

The server must stand inside the service court.

The place diagonally opposite to the service court is where the receiver must stand.

The service needs to travel all the way through into the diagonally opposite end of the service court into the receiver’s area.

To elaborate it with an example, if the server is standing in his right service court, the receiver will be standing on his right service court. This is where the service has to travel.

However, if, in any case, the service lands outside the service court, the receiver has to let it fall on the ground. In case the receiver can hit the service, the rally will continue at its own pace even though the service was supposed to be going out.

The general rule is that the server and receiver must stay put in their respective service boxes until the server’s racket hits the shuttlecock. It is the triggering point, after which both the server and receiver are allowed to leave their boxes and make free moves throughout the court during the game.

Single Service Rules and any Other Rules

The service rules are, by far, the most complicated and challenging set of rules for an individual. Hence, we have tried to focus on simplifying the idea and presenting it to you in a better-understood way by even a novice. Irrespective of the fact that you are a newbie in the game or are an expert stuck in obscure situations, understanding the service rules is essential for you.

Who serves first in badminton

A coin toss conducted by an umpire decides the first player to serve. The winner of the toss can choose either option from service or court ends. The service category gives the players to either select to serve or receive first. If the winner chooses the court end, he will have the right to determine the side he chooses to start the game from. The winner of the toss will have the liberty to select an option from either category while the remaining options will be given to the other player.

Which side of the court should you start serving from

Usually, the game is started by the players from the court’s right side when it comes to badminton. If you have an even number of points, you always start serving from the right side. And, when the points count is in odd figures, the service starts from the left side. Since the beginning of the match has 0-0 points for both the players, it is counted as an even number, and the service starts from the right side of the badminton court.

Who will be able to service and receive first in the consecutive games

The service rule indicates that the player who won the previous game will have the liberty of serving the next game.

What is the service and receiving rule after the change of ends in the third game

The rule adhering to change of position in the third game is stated that after any player reaches 11 points, the players will have the liberty to change ends. Here, the player who was initially set to service had there been no change of ends will be allowed to serve. The receiver will be similar in line. The game would continue in similar lines as if the players have never changed ends.

Who would be eligible to serve after a rally

The player who wins the previous rally will be entitled to service the next points.

How many Serves will you get

The server gets only one chance to service the game. If, by any chance, he misses to serves, irrespective of the circumstance of it being a fault, not hitting shuttlecock within the boundaries or over the net, he will lose the point. However, the rule is starkly in contrast to tennis, where the players will get a second chance to serve if their first service fails or misses out.

What is the legality of the service that touches the net but lands inbound

A serve that touches the net, but still lands inbounds, is pretty much legal and valid to score a point. During such an incident, the shuttlecock bounces or skims over the top of the net and then moves on to go over it and lands on the opposite side. Generally, it is done by an accident but is considered entirely valid. So, the players will have to be prompt enough to change directions. Even though this is a rare scenario, it still happens, and people must be aware of its consequences.

What will happen if you miss the shuttlecock while serving

As stated earlier, players get only one chance to serve. So, in case they miss the shuttlecock on service, he will not be given another chance to serve again. The official rule of BWF states that “in attempting to serve, the server shall not miss the shuttle”. This also indicates a simple fact that if you miss hitting the shuttlecock in the first attempt, you will not get the second chance to hit it even if it does not reach the ground.

Can a player serve overhand

Serving overhand in badminton is not allowed. The BWF rule clearly states that “the shaft and the racket head of the server’s racket at the instant of hitting the shuttle shall be pointing in a downward direction”.

Is standing in a line while serving or receiving

No player is allowed to stand on a line while service or receiving. You can quickly lose a point as it is considered as a fault. However, if both the players violate the rule, it will be considered a let or redo.

Is hitting the feather of the shuttlecock allowed during service

Hitting the feather of the shuttlecock is allowed during a service. However, the players need to hit the base first. BWF doesn’t specify any clause stating that the shuttlecock’s feathers cannot be struck during any service.

Is the movement of the players allowed during service

Until the shuttlecock is struck, the players will not be allowed to move their feet off the ground. It is only after the service is done, and the server strikes the shuttlecock that all the players will be allowed to move their feet off the ground, no matter whether the shuttlecock moves past the net by that time. However, players get the liberty of moving the other parts of their bodies during the service.

What if the receiver was not ready for the serve

If, by any chance, the receiver is not ready for a service and it is struck, the service will be considered a let, and the point will be redone. However, if the receiver attempts to hit the shuttlecock under any scenario, he will be considered ready for the service, and no point will be redone in the ordinary course.

What is the height of the shuttlecock during the service

The shuttlecock’s height should be below 1.10 meters or 3.6 feet from the ground when it gets stuck during a service. This effective rule made by the BWF was first declared in March 2018 and is still useful as of today. According to the previous rule, the shuttlecock position had to be held below the lowest part of the player’s bottom rib.

It is interesting to note that the rule is only applied during the moment of striking the shuttlecock, and not anytime before of after it is being hit. This would imply that you can hold it higher before striking the shuttlecock and are also eligible to follow through the shot after your rackets contact the shuttlecock.

Double Service Rules and any Other Rule

As elaborate as badminton’s single service rules are, the double service rules also follow suit with a slight delineation. Let us now elaborate on them for your understanding.

Who serves first

In a doubles game, either player on the serving team has the entitlement to serve first. The same rule applies to the receiving team, where either player will be eligible to receive first.

Which team is eligible to serve and receive first in the consecutive games

Likewise o the singles games, the team who wins the previous game will be entitled to serve in the consecutive game. However, the team will have the liberty of choosing the player to service for every such game. This advantage of liberty also holds for the receiver team, who may decide on the player who would receive first. BWF does not have any formal rule or clarification regarding the fact that the players should be in the same formation as they were at the match’s inception. So every team will have their choice for a starting formation at the beginning of every game.

Who gets to serve after a rally

In a doubles game, if the team that won the rally was serving in the previous rally, the players will have to rotate their positions from left to right and vice versa. The player who was entitled to serve in the previous rally will also serve in the current one. However, if the team winning the current rally hasn’t served in the previous rally, the members will not have to change or rotate their position and continue with the game.

When does a team need to rotate its position between the players

The partners will be required to rotate their position from left to right and vice versa when they win a rally that they had initially been served. Otherwise, no such rotation of service position is required.

How different are the service rules in singles and doubles games

The service rules are almost the same in the singles and doubles games. Even if the players use different types of serves, the rules followed will be the same in each discipline. However, the only thing different in this regard is the court boundary.

Mixed Service Rules and any Other Rules

What will be the preferred standing position for the mixed singles?

The mixed doubles’ preferred service position between a man and woman will be an attacking position where one player will stand in front; the other will stand at the back. While the server hits the service from the front, the partner stands behind. Ideally, the women will take the front position.