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Basic Rules of Badminton

Here are just some basic rules for the sport of badminton.


The winner of the toss can elect to serve or receive in the first game, or to choose to play at a particular end of the court. The loser of the toss makes the remaining choice.

Basic Aim

You win a rally if you hit the shuttle over the net and onto the floor of the opposing side's court.

You lose the rally if you hit the shuttle into the net, or over the net but outside of the opposing side's court. You also lose the rally if, for example, the shuttle touches you or your clothing, or if you hit it before it crosses the net.


The service courts are slightly different for singles and doubles. A shuttle on the line is "in". The server and receiver stand in the diagonally opposite service courts (always right hand at the start of the game) but after the serve players may move anywhere on their side of the net. The server must obey laws designed to force underhand delivery of the serve, and the receiver must stand still until the service is struck.

badminton servebadminton serve


Matches comprise of the best of three games. Each game starts at 0-0 (called "love-all"). If the serving side wins a rally, it scores a point, and serves again but from the alternate service court. If the receiving side wins the rally, the score remains unchanged and the service passes to the next player in turn. In singles, this is the opponent: in double it's either the partner or, if both players have just had a turn of serving, one of the opponents.

In men's singles and doubles events, 15 points wins a game. However, if the score reaches 14-14, the side which first reached 14 can choose either to play to 15, or to set the game to 17 points. The final score will reflect the sum of the points won before setting plus the points gained in setting.

Scoring in women's singles is slightly different - 11 points wins a game and there is the option to set to 13 points at 10-10.


Players change ends at the end of a game and when the leading score reaches 8 in a game of 15 points (or 6 in a game of 11 points) in the third game. A five minute interval is allowed prior to any third game.

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