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Badminton Rules & Regulations

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) is the official governing body of badminton. This organization is responsible for maintaining the rules pertaining to game play, court and equipment specifications, and the certification of badminton judges and officials. Rules and regulations set forth by the BWF have been adopted by organizations worldwide and are universally accepted as the standard rules.

While reading the following, you may come across some strange terms like “rally” and “service,” but don’t fret. Rally simply refers to the series of shots between opposing sides. Service, on the other hand, is just a fancy term for the act of serving the shuttlecock. For easy reference, here is a simplified version of the rather long and complex BWF Statutes.

Scoring System

  • A match is in a best-of-three-games format with each game played to 21 points.
  • A point is awarded for each time a rally ends.
  • Service is awarded to the side that won the last rally.
  • At 20-all, the side which gains a 2-point advantage first, wins that game.
  • At 29-all, the side which reaches 30 first, wins that game.
  • The side winning a game serves first for the next game.

Toss

Before play begins, a toss will be conducted and the winning side shall decide whether to either:

  • Serve or receive first
  • Start play on one side or the other

If no coin is available, players can hit the game shuttlecock into the air and grant choice to the side in which the shuttlecock’s head faces.

Interval and Change of Sides

  • When the side of the leading score reaches 11 points, players may choose to have a 60-second interval.
  • When a game ends, players are allowed a 120-second interval.
  • After each game, players change sides.
  • In the third game, players change sides when the leading score reaches 11 points.

Singles

  • At the start of each game, service will begin from the right service court.
  • Service will be taken from the right service court when the server’s score is even, and from the left service court when the server’s score is odd.
  • The receiver must be inside the correct service box before service is taken.

Doubles

  • At the start of each game, service will begin from the right service court.
  • Service will be taken from the right service court when the server’s score is even, and from the left service court when the server’s score is odd.
  • The receiver must be inside the correct service box before service is taken. The receiver’s partner may stand anywhere in the court.
  • If the server’s side wins the rally, that team is awarded a point and service continues to be taken by the server.
  • If the receiver’s side wins the rally, that team is awarded a point and service.
  • Players on each side only change service courts when a rally is won while their side is serving.

Game Play

During play, a fault occurs if:

  • A player touches the net or poles with the racket, person, or dress.
  • A player invades the opponent’s side by making contact with the shuttlecock past the plane of the net.
  • A player invades an opponent’s court under the net in such a way that an opponent is obstructed or distracted.

During play, a let occurs if:

  • The server serves before the receiver is ready.
  • The shuttlecock’s base separates from the skirt.

A rally ends if the shuttlecock:

  • Hits the net or post and begins to fall toward the striker’s side of the net.
  • Hits the surface of the court; or
  • A ‘fault’ or a ‘let’ has occurred.

Doubles Service System

Side 1 – AB, Side 2 – CD

Rally Won By Score(AB-CD) Service Explanation Visual
None 0-0 A>>C Service begins from right service court
because it is the start of the game.
Side 1 1-0 A>>D Side 1 is awarded a point and switches service courts. Service is taken from the left service court because the score is odd.
Side 2 1-1 D>>A Side 2 is awarded a point and service. Service is taken from the left service court because the score is odd.
Side 1 2-1 B>>C Side 1 is awarded a point and service. Service is taken from the right service court because the score is even.
Side 2 2-2 C>>B Side 2 is awarded a point and service. Service is taken from the right service court because the score is even.
Side 2 2-3 C>>A

Side 2 is awarded a point and switches service courts. Service is taken from the left service court because the score is odd.

Side 2 2-4 C>>B Side 2 is awarded a point and switches service courts. Service is taken from the right service court because the score is even.
Side 2 2-5 C>>A Side 2 is awarded a point and switches service courts. Service is taken from the left service court because the score is odd.

When playing singles, simply remember that you will serve from the right side when your score is even and from the left when your score is odd. For doubles, you and your partner may get mixed up during a rally, so it’s important to always remember who served last so you can determine who will serve next. Figuring out service may be a bit overwhelming at first, but your partner and even your opponents should be more than willing to clear up any confusion. You may get frustrated or a little lost as you learn, but don’t forget to have fun with it!

More Resources

WBF Official Statutes

Want to know the rules of badminton? Here you'll find the official rules and regulations necessary for you to know how to play a real match in badminton.
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