The Rules for Playing Badminton, Serving Rules, Game Rules, Lines & Court Rules - Our Guide

Although not a hugely complex game, it’s always important to know the rules of Badminton before stepping on court. This will not only avoid any disputes with the opponent but also give players a greater understanding and appreciation of badminton in general. This article will look to address the key elements and questions in regards to the rules of badminton. 

    Badminton Recreational Players

    How many points to win a game in badminton?

    Matches are the best of 3 games to 21 points with a point awarded to the winner of each rally. Games must be won by two clear points, however if the score reaches 29-29 then a sudden death point is played to determine the winner.

      Badminton Older Couple Playing

      What is considered in and out in badminton?

      Games can be played as a doubles format with four players, or singles between two players. The court boundaries for doubles and singles are different. In singles the court is thinner, with the wide, outside ‘tramlines’ out of bounds. In doubles the court is full width and these tramlines are now ‘in’.

      During service in doubles, the court is short, with the rear ‘tramlines’at the back of the court, being out of bounds until the serve is returned. Once the service is returned the whole of the court becomes in. If the shuttle lands on the line then it is in.

      Badminton Woman Player playing a backhand shot


      How do you win a point in badminton?

      A rally is won when the shuttle lands in the opponents court or if the opponent is unable to return the shuttle back over the net and inside the court boundaries. A point is awarded for every rally that is won and the winner of the previous rally serves at the start of the next point. 

      Badminton Player Serving

      What are the service rules in badminton?

      The service must be hit diagonally to the opponents half court and over their front service line, which is the first horizontal line on each side of the court, closest to the net.

      Unlike tennis, there are no second serves and the serve is to be hit ‘underarm’ meaning the the server’s racket head and racket shaft must be angled in a downward direction and the shuttle must be below the waist at contact. In elite BWF competition, where there are service judges and service height measuring devices, the shuttle must be below 1.15 metres from the floor when struck.

      Both feet should be in contact with the floor and no part of the foot should be touching the service line or the other court bondaries when the serve is hit.

      Badminton Shuttle on a court


      What happens if the serve hits the net and goes over?

      In the instance that the serve hits the net but continues to travel over the net, play continues as normal. There is no let played as there would be in tennis. If the shuttlecock hits the net but continues over and lands past the service line then the server wins the rally. If the shuttlecock hits the net but lands short of the service line or wide of court then the receiver wins the point.

      Badminton Woman on court playing

      Which side do I serve from in badminton?

      Once it has been determined who serves first, (usually decided by a coin flip or seeing who the shuttle points to when hit in the air and left to land) the server starts the game serving from the service box on the right. During the rest of the game the service is performed from either the left or the right box, depending on the server’s score. If the server’s score is an even number (0,2,4 etc) then they will serve from the right box. If the server’s score is an odd number (1,3,5 etc) then they will serve from the left service box.

      Badminton Serving

      Who serves in doubles badminton?

      As with singles the winning pair will serve the next point and the side of the court is determined by the odd or even number of points obtained by the servers. If the server’s score is an even number the serve is from the right, if it is odd then the serve is from the left service box.

      Players are to stay on the same sides to receive serve and only switch sides when a point is won ‘on serve’ - on serve meaning the pair that served at the start of the point win the rally. This should ensure that each time the serve is won back a different player in the pair serves.

      When winning a point ‘on serve’ the same player continues to serve until a rally is lost.

      Badminton Doubles

      What happens if a player touches the net in badminton?

      If a player touches the net whilst the shuttle is still in play then a fault is called and the point is awarded to the opponent. If the net is touched after the shuttle has either struck the floor or the opponent then this is not considered a fault because the rally is ‘dead’ meaning the rally is already over at this point.

      In relation to this, a player is also not allowed to contact the shuttle before it has crossed the net. This scenario is most likely to occur when a player is attempting to play an attacking net kill, when the shuttle is close to the net. The player’s racket is allowed to cross the net, however this can only occur after the shuttle has been struck on their own side of the court.

      Badminton Shuttle on a net

      Is it a let or a fault if a shuttlecock touches the ceiling in badminton?

      It is a fault if a player hits the shuttlecock into the ceiling and the point is awarded to the opposing player.

      If the shuttlecock strikes any other fixtures above the court, for example lights, basketball hoops, beam or girders, then it is up to the home club or tournament director to determine what is considered a let or a fault. When playing at a venue with any additional structures above the court, it is always good practice to ask a home official on the agreed fault or let rules in the venue. Alternatively, this can just be agreed with the opponent prior to the start of the game.

      Badminton Court and Roof

      Summary of the Badminton Rules

      Now that you are aware of the most common questions in the badminton rules it’s time to get on court and play. To enjoy the game fully it’s important to have the right equipment and luckily, BadmintonHQ offer the highest quality badminton rackets, badminton shoes, shuttlecocks and much more.

      BadmintonHQ stock all the biggest brands including Yonex, Victor and Li-Ning and players can buy with confidence knowing that all products sold by BadmintonHQ are 100% genuine, bought directly from the brands or their official regional distributors.