Ultimate Badminton Rules And Scoring Guide

Badminton racket on grass with two shuttlecocks next to it

Hey there, you wonderful sports enthusiast!

Are you tired of the relentless arguing and bickering that ensues whenever you pick up that lightweight badminton racket? I’m talking about that classic “Was that in or out?” and “Did that serve cross the line?” dilemmas that come part and parcel with a riveting badminton match. Well, it’s high time we ironed out those pesky disagreements with an ultimate guide to badminton rules and scoring. So strap in, we’re about to demystify the badminton court like never before.

Let’s face it, badminton isn’t just about how hard you can smash the shuttlecock, even though that’s always an adrenaline rush. There’s a lot more happening in that 44 feet long and 20 feet wide rectangle than meets the eye. And knowing your way around both badminton rules and, more specifically, the intricacies of the service court can make the difference between you being the reigning champ or the sulking runner-up.

If you want a full breakdown of the service rules of badminton, you can find an article I wrote on them here.

Stay with me, and by the end of this guide, you’ll be able to hold court like a pro, literally and figuratively. No more disputes about the badminton court, no more dubious line calls. Only pure, unadulterated fun – unless you’ve been secretly enjoying those heated arguments. But hey, who am I to judge? Let’s jump right in!

Importance of Understanding the Rules

Ah, the sweet taste of victory! Nothing quite compares to the moment when you win a rally, does it? But let’s be real – every champion knows that triumph is rarely the result of chance. A critical part of climbing to the top of that podium involves understanding the game’s rules inside and out. In our beloved sport of badminton, this means getting to grips with the scoring system and other rules.

Knowing the rules can be a game-changer. When you’re in the heat of the match, understanding how one scores a point could be the difference between making a triumphant comeback or losing out narrowly.

So, before you skip understanding the service court, remember the devil is in the details. Now, let’s delve into these specifics that can give you the winning edge. Here’s a list of rules you need to know before you next step onto the badminton court.

Badminton Scoring System

How does scoring work in badminton? Well, let’s break it down.

First, when a player or a team (in doubles) wins a rally, they score a point. This is known as the rally point system. It’s a quick, brutal, and incredibly exciting way to keep score. Gone are the days when you could only score on your serve!

In a match, the player or team that first scores 21 points wins. However, a match isn’t necessarily over just because you’ve lost the first game. In badminton, matches are typically the best of three games. So, if you lose the next game after winning the first one, you’ve got another chance to make a comeback.

But remember, you must win by a margin of at least two points. If the score reaches 20-all, the game continues until one team has a two-point lead. Unless the score reaches 29 -all – when the scoring becomes a next-point wins system. Talk about a pressure cooker situation.

And that, my friends, is your crash course on the badminton scoring system. Next time you’re on the court, you’ll be a point-scoring, game-winning machine! Or, at the very least, you’ll know what’s happening when the scores start to climb.

Badminton Rules

Let’s now move onto the intricate labyrinth of the badminton rules, specifically focusing on the service rules. I can imagine many of you are thinking this might go over your head, but stick with me, and you’ll understand it in no time.

The badminton court is split into two main halves, each with a right and left service court.

The service rules dictate that you must serve within your respective service court, and the shuttle must land in your opponent’s diagonal service court. When your score is an even number in singles, you serve from the right service court; if it’s odd, you serve from the alternate service court on the left. In doubles, it’s trickier with a sequence of server changes, but the basic principle remains the same.

I know it sounds like a hassle, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes second nature. Plus, think of how impressively smart you’ll sound tossing around terms like “left service court” and “right service court” next time you’re on the badminton court. If you want a full breakdown of the service rules of badminton, you can find an article I wrote on them here.

So there you have it, the basic badminton service rules in a nutshell. By mastering these, you won’t just be avoiding disputes – you might also serve your way to victory!

Badminton Doubles Rules

Now that we’ve mastered the singles rules let’s take a leap into the thrilling world of doubles badminton. Here’s where things get even more exciting and, admittedly, more complex. But fear not, by the end of this section, you’ll be well-versed with all the doubles rules and ready to step onto the court with your partner in crime.

In doubles badminton, the left and right service courts still hold their importance, but the sequence of service becomes a little more intricate. Let’s break it down.

Just like singles, if your team’s score is even, you serve from the same service court, the right service court, to your opponent’s right service court. If your score is odd, you serve from the left service court to your opponent’s left service court.

But here’s where things get interesting. Unlike singles, where the server changes with each point scored, in doubles, only the serving side can score. They continue to serve as long as they keep winning points. But once they lose a point, the serve passes to the opposing team.

Also, in doubles, the entire width of the court is in play – that’s right, even the extra wide sections on the sides. It might seem like a minor change, but it dramatically alters your strategy.

So there you have it, folks, the lowdown on badminton doubles rules. With these nuggets of wisdom, you can bring your A-game to the court, whether you’re playing singles or doubles. Now, grab your partner, get out there, and smash it!

Equipment Rules

Ah, the sweet sound of a shuttlecock making contact with a stringed racket – nothing like it. But did you know that even the equipment we use in badminton is governed by a set of rules? Let’s dive into the often overlooked but equally important realm of equipment rules.

The Laws of Badminton, as set out by the Badminton World Federation (BWF), clearly dictate the specifications for equipment used in a professional game. But whether you’re playing badminton at the Olympics or in your backyard, knowing these guidelines is always good.

First off, let’s talk about the racket. Badminton rackets should be lightweight, not exceeding 680mm in length, and the strung area must be at most 280mm in width. And, in case you were thinking of spicing things up with a uniquely shaped racket, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the racket should be flat and of even surface.

The humble shuttlecock, too, has its set of rules. A proper shuttlecock consists of 16 feathers fixed on a cork base. The shuttlecock’s weight should be between 4.74 to 5.50 grams. If you’re using synthetic shuttlecocks, the design and speed must simulate those of a traditional feathered shuttlecock.

While these rules might seem overwhelming, they exist to maintain fair play and keep the game enjoyable for everyone. So, whether you’re a professional athlete or just playing badminton for fun, keeping these equipment rules in mind can help maintain the spirit of this beautiful sport!

Badminton Terms

Alright, my fellow badminton enthusiasts, it’s time to get technical. We’ve talked about the rules, the scoring system, and the equipment. But it’s time to arm ourselves with the right terminology to truly walk the walk and talk the talk on the badminton court.

Let’s start with the most basic badminton terms. The ‘game’ refers to a set of points, typically up to 21 in most formats. The ‘rally’ is the period during which the shuttle is in play, starting with the ‘serve’ and ending when a point is scored.

Now, remember when we talked about the ‘service court’? This refers to one of the four sections of the court, divided by a central line and the short service line. If you’re serving, you’ll stand in either the ‘left service court’ or the ‘right service court’ depending on your score, as we discussed earlier. The ‘alternate service court’ comes into play when your score changes from even to odd or vice versa.

What about the ‘respective service courts’? Well, these service courts correspond to you and your opponent based on the current score. You serve into your opponent’s respective service court, and they do the same to you.

And then we have the broader ‘badminton court rules’, which include all the above and much more, like the boundaries of the court and the rules for serving, receiving, and scoring points.

I know it seems like a lot, but with some practice, you’ll use these terms like a pro. And who knows? You may even confuse your opponent with your newfound vocabulary. Now, let’s take these terms to the court and put them to use, shall we?

Full Term List


The initial stroke that sets a rally into motion.

Short Serve / Long Serve

The server typically has a choice between a short and long serve. The short serve is favoured among professional athletes, especially in Doubles. This is because it doesn’t concede a free lift and attack. The long serve, also known as a swipe serve, is used sporadically as a surprise element. As the receiver typically stands close to the net in anticipation of the short serve, a sudden long serve can catch them off guard, making it hard for them to retreat in time.


This is the second shot of a rally aimed at returning the service. The goal is to be as aggressive as possible to gain an immediate advantage. In Doubles, the statistics indicate that the pair initiating a lift of the shuttle often wins the point.

Third Shot

The first three shots of the rally are crucial as they set the tone for the entire rally. The renowned Hendra Setiawan from Indonesia is a master of these opening moves.


This refers to connecting with a fast, flat shot intended to reach the backcourt and hitting it as a winner. Quick hands, reactions, and anticipation are required. Once again, Hendra Setiawan excels at this, as does Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo.

Game Point

This is the chance to win the first or second game with the upcoming point. A minimum of 20 points is needed for this opportunity. However, the third and deciding game could lead to a…

Match Point

This is the chance to win the entire match with the next point. This opportunity can arise in the second or third set.


A crucial attacking shot designed to conclude a rally. The shot should be hit as high as possible in a downward direction. The smash’s speed is determined by arm acceleration, finger work, shoulder rotation, and body movement.

Hawk-Eye / Challenge

An electronic system that can validate a line call. Given that a badminton shuttle can reach speeds of over 300km/h, even the best linesman can make mistakes. In professional tournaments, players get two challenges per game, which they can use to review a decision. If the challenge is successful, they retain their number of challenges. If they do, they lose one.

Shuttle / Birdie

This is the ‘ball’ of badminton. It’s made from 16 goose feathers inserted into a cork and has unique flying characteristics.

Final Thoughts

When all is said and done, the thrill of badminton, much like any sport, lies not just in the win but also in the journey. The sweat, the strategic planning, the thrill of a perfectly executed smash, and the understanding of rules – they all contribute to that electrifying experience of the game. But, let’s not forget, the right equipment and services can elevate your game to new heights.

I’ve seen firsthand how a quality racket or a professionally designed training program can make a world of difference. Think about it: wouldn’t you like to feel more confident, more in control, and more prepared when you step onto the court? Imagine knowing not just the badminton rules and scoring system, but also being equipped with the best gear in the business.

To help you with that, I’ve handpicked a few items and services that have personally made a difference in my game, and I believe they can do the same for you. Check out this [affiliate link] to browse through a selection of top-notch rackets, shuttlecocks, and even professional training services designed to get you ahead of the game.

Remember, knowledge is power, but the right tools and training can turn that power into a championship. So, why wait? Give yourself the winning edge today!

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