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. In this lesson, you'll learn about scoring, serving, breaks, lets, and more. While all of these rules may not apply to every game you play in, they are helpful 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.

Points can be lost when:

  • The shuttle does not land in appropriate service court
  • Stepping 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 team or player to win two games out of a three game series first is determined the champion of that match. This format allows for quick gameplay while still giving both players or teams the equal opportunity to win in each match. 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 is the winner of the match.

Serving Rules

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

The server must serve with the shuttlecock being hit from below their waist. During a serve neither player or 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 in tennis, during normal play, 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 then serves the next point. In match play, whichever team wins the game serves first in the next one.

Win By Two Points

In order to win an individual match the player or team must win by at least 2 points. This means that if the game was tied at 20-20, the player or team would need to score two points in a run to make the score 22-20 in order to 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 as well.


After the shuttle is hit into play, players cannot touch the net or its supports with their racket or body. This automatically results in a fault and a point for the other team. This rule was put into place to reduce interference with the net and can be called by the official at any point of 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 accidently 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 rallying and 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 gets more complicated. Amongst a team of two players services 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 will the service change between the two players. If the serving side wins a rally, the serving side scores a point and the same server serves again from the alternate service court. If the receiving side wins a rally, the receiving side scores a point. The receiving side becomes the new serving side.