Badminton Rules List

what are the rules of badminton

Whether you’re interested in playing badminton competitively or just for fun, it's important to know the basic rules of how to play. Here you’ll learn about scoring, serving, breaks, lets, and more! These are some of the most important badminton rules for beginners to know.

You can also check out our list of the Top 10 Badminton Rules to learn even more about the sport!


Scoring Rules

Individual games are played to 21 points, and the first player or team to reach 21 points wins that game or set. In order to score a point, you must win the rally. 

A rally can be lost when:

  • The shuttle does not land in the appropriate service court
  • You step forward while you serve
  • A serve or shot lands out of bounds off the court (lines of the court count as in bounds)
  • The shuttle does not make over the net, goes under, or is hit into the net
  • The shuttle is hit before it crosses over the net 

Best of Three Games

The first team or player to win two games out of a three-game series is declared the champion of that match. This format allows for quick gameplay while still giving both players or teams an equal opportunity to win. 

In tournaments, the only thing that really matters is the winner of the match, as they will advance to the next round. Depending on the tournament, there can also be a best of five format, meaning whichever side wins three games first is the winner of the match. 

Serving Rules

In badminton, every time there is a serve, a point is scored, meaning you do not have to be the one who served in order to earn a point. This helps improve the speed of play and allows teams to come back more quickly. 

The server must hit the shuttle from below their waist when serving. During a serve, neither player nor team can move until the serve is completed. 

Let Rule

A let can be called by the umpire in cases where the server hits the shuttle before the receiver is ready. However, unlike lets in tennis, the shuttle may hit the net and still remain in play. 

Alternate Serving

As soon as the shuttle is served, gameplay begins, and the act of hitting back and forth between players or teams is known as a rally. The rally ends when one team or player commits a fault, and the other team receives a point. That team, who just received a point, then serves the next point. In match play, whichever team wins the previous game serves first in the next one. 

Win By Two Points

In order to win an individual match, a player or team must win by at least two points. This means that if the game was tied at 20-20, the player or team would need to score two points in a row to make the score 22-20 and win the game. However, if the score was 29-29, then whichever side scores the 30th point wins the game. 

Two-Minute Breaks

In between each game of a set, each player or team is allowed two full minutes to rest. Players have the chance to catch their breath and continue to hydrate, an important element of all sporting events. Players are also given a 60-second break after the 11th point in the match is scored.

Faults

After the shuttle is hit into play, players cannot touch the net or its supports with their racket or their body. This automatically results in a fault and a point for the other team. This rule was implemented to reduce interference with the net and can be called by the official at any time during play. 

Double Taps

In badminton, players cannot hit the shuttle two times in a row. In singles and in doubles, each side has only one hit to get it over the net. Even if a player accidentally touches the shuttle with their racket and their partner hits it over the net, that would still be a fault and a point for the other team.

Serving Side Rules

badminton serving side rules

In singles, when your score is an odd number, such as 1 or 3, you serve on the left side of the court. When your score is an even number, such as 0, 2, or 4, you serve from the right side of the court. The shuttle must land in the service court diagonal from where the server is standing. Players only switch sides after winning a rally and receiving a point. 

Doubles Serving Rules

In doubles, the same even and odd rule still applies. However, the substitution and rotation of who serves and when get more complicated. In a team of two players, service does not change between them until the other teams stop the rally. It is only until the team wins the rally again and a point is given that the service changes between the two players.

If the serving side wins a rally, they score a point, and the same server serves again from the alternate service court. If the receiving side wins a rally, they score a point, and the receiving side becomes the new serving side.

FAQ

What are the basic rules of badminton?

The basic rules of badminton are fairly simple. At the beginning of each rally, a player serves the shuttle over the net and into the appropriate service court on the other side. The receiving player or team attempts to hit the shuttle back over the net until a fault occurs. When a fault is called, the team or player who did not cause the fault gets a point.   

What are the serving rules in badminton?

Every rally begins with a serve. The server must hit from below their waist, and no player other than the server may move until the serve is completed; otherwise, a fault is announced by the umpire. The server must also not hit the shuttle until the receiver is ready; otherwise, a let is announced by the umpire. When the score is an odd number, players are required to serve from the left side of the court; when the score is an even number, players serve from the right side of the court.

How is badminton scored?

In badminton, a player or team scores a point when they win a rally. A rally is won when the opposing team commits a fault. Faults happen for a number of mistakes, including illegal serves, a shot landing out of bounds, or the shuttle not making it over the net. The first team to reach 21 points with a lead of at least two points wins the game. The first player or team to win two games is declared the winner of the match.