How to Play Badminton

Badminton is a sport with ancient origins. It is believed to have originated from the game of 'Battledore and shuttlecock' which was played in ancient Greece about 2000 years ago. 'Battledore' was the name given to an early form of racket. These usually consisted of wooden frames with gut or parchment stretched over them. After Alexander's annexation of northwestern India, the game is believed to have spread to the Indian subcontinent and and east to China and Thailand. The modern version of Badminton has roots in British India. Badminton has been a Summer Olympic sport since 1992.

Basic Badminton Rules

The goal of badminton is to hit the shuttle with a racket in order to toss it over the net so that it lands in your opponent's side of the court. Your opponent will try to intercept the shuttle and hit it back into your half of the court. Whenever a player manages to successfully land their shuttlecock on their opponent's side of the court, they are said to have won a 'rally'.

Sometimes, an opponent can win the player rallies by making mistakes. These mistakes include hitting the shuttle out of court and under or into the net. The opponent may also fail to hit the shuttle on the player's side.

At the beginning of a match, each player has a score of zero. Each time you win a rally, you score one point. The first player to score 21 points wins the game. However, in competitive tournaments and events, three games are played between each set of players. The player who wins two matches out of three wins the match.

Note that in order to win, you need a two point lead on your opponent. If you manage to score 21 points but do not have a two point lead on your opponent, the game continues till either one of the players manage to score 30 points. At this point, the player who scores 30 points wins. This rule prevents games from dragging too long.

Whenever you win a rally, in addition to gaining a point, you also get the next serve. This applies even if you were the one who served last.

Unlike tennis, where the ball can bounce; a rally is over as soon as the shuttle touches the ground. One important rule to remember is that the player can only hit the shuttle once to toss it over to the opponent's side. This rule holds true even if you are playing in a format that allows for more than one player per team. In this case, the shuttle can only be hit once by any one of the players.

In most tournaments, a coin toss is used to decide which player services first. A player can only serve from inside the service court.

Badminton Formats

There can be up to four players at a time in a badminton court. A match can be between two players, or it can be between teams of two. One-on-one matches are called singles, while two-on-two matches are called doubles. There are five formats in competitive badminton - Men's singles, Men's doubles, Women's singles, Women's doubles, Mixed doubles.

A mixed double match consists of a male and female player on each team. In competitive badminton, teams of women do not compete against teams of men.

The Badminton Court Explained

A Badminton Court used for competitive play has some standard measurements. The court is 20 feet wide and 44 feet long. The lines drawn on the court are 1.5 inches thick. The poles for the net are 5 foot 1 inch tall. The net itself is 5 feet tall in the middle.

A line extends the middle of each player's court. This line is called center line and establishes the service court area. Additionally, since a badminton court must be able to accommodate a variety of game formats, there are lines in place establishing the boundaries for both singles and doubles players.

The outer lines of the playing field denote the extent of the doubles court. Therefore, in a doubles match, the shuttle is permitted to land anywhere inside the court. The singles court is less wide, compared to the doubles court. Other than these lines, there are additional lines meant to be used while serving.

How To Serve

Serving is the start of any badminton game. Ordinarily, the person who would serve first would have a great advantage. In order to prevent this, there are special guidelines for serving in competitive badminton. These rules are only applicable during serving, players do not have to follow the serving rules during the rest of the match.

Players have to serve within a specific area of the court. This area is known as the service court. The service courts are different depending on which format you are playing. A singles service court consists of the area within the center line, back line, front service line and a singles side line. A doubles service court consists of the area within the center line, front service line, inside back line and a doubles side line. Note that only one player can serve at a time, regardless of the format. If playing in a team, your team mate does not have to stand in the service court.

Each side has two service courts. The player has to choose a service court depending on his current score. If the server has an even score (this includes 0), he services from the right. Otherwise, he uses the left service court.

When you are serving, the receiver must stand in the service court diagonally opposite to you. The shuttle must travel into the service court where the receiver is standing. Both the server and the receiver must stand in their respective service courts till the receiver's racket makes contact with the shuttle. Afterwards, both players can move anywhere in the court.

In a doubles match, scores are assigned to teams rather than the individual players.

Choosing A Location To Play

Badminton is often casually played in gardens, playgrounds or beaches. However, it's generally not a good idea to play badminton outdoors. This is because the shuttle is very light and its movement is easily influenced by even the slightest of breezes. This is also why competitive badminton is always played indoors.

Back to the guide list