Rules for Serving in Badminton

Hello, fellow badminton enthusiasts! I’ll be showing you the Rules for Serving in Badminton. I know how you feel – the service court has been my nemesis for years. But guess what? I’ve finally cracked it. If you want to learn some tips on techniques, here’s a great article to help. Today we are talking about the rules set by the BWF around serving.

badminton figure serving with a question mark above his head

I’m here to help you make sense of the badminton rules and especially to make that service court less of a confusing topic. Remember, even the best players once faced their first serve with a mix of excitement and terror.

So, buckle up! We’ll be covering who serves in badminton and where, badminton service height rules, badminton service line rules, and so much more! I promise there will be less sweat and fewer head scratches by the end of this post. Ready to conquer the serve in badminton? Let’s get started!

Why it’s important to know the Rules for Serving in Badminton

You might be thinking, “Why are the rules for serving in badminton such a big deal? I just hit the shuttlecock over the net and pray it lands somewhere decent, right?” Well, not exactly. You see, serving in badminton is more than just the initial hit; it’s the beginning of a strategic game like chess.

Here’s the truth, friends: every single shot in badminton matters, but it all starts with the serve. The serve dictates the pace of the game, it sets the tone, and it’s your first opportunity to throw your opponent off balance. Now, that’s quite a power to wield. This means that the serve has to be regulated the most to make sure it’s a fair game and not a coin toss of who gets to serve first.

That’s why understanding the service court, your respective service court, and the badminton service rules are paramount to take your game to the next level. It’s not just about ‘whacking’ the shuttlecock; it’s about precision, strategy, and a dash of psychological warfare.

Getting the serve right without any faults is crucial to having a chance at winning, as a point is given to the opponent if you serve a fault. No second chances like in tennis! This makes understanding the rules for serving paramount in having a competitive chance.

Serving Guidelines

So, why is it so important to master the art of serving in badminton? Because it’s the key that unlocks your potential to become a more skilled, strategic, and successful player. There are also certain things you must do for your service to avoid being considered a ‘fault’.

Now, let’s get down to brass tacks and discuss the basic serving guidelines. Picture yourself on the court, the shuttlecock in hand, poised for that initial, vital swing. Here’s what you need to know:

Firstly, and most importantly, the shuttlecock must be hit from below the server’s waist in an upwards direction.

Secondly, let’s talk about the court lines. The shuttlecock must land within the boundaries of your opponent’s service court. The lines on the court aren’t there just for aesthetics, and they’re your path to a successful serve.

Thirdly, your racket must make contact with the shuttlecock cork, not the feathers. I’m personally a big offender of this rule. You should make sure that the strings of your racket don’t hit the feathers at all. It may be difficult at first, but mastery of this part and the whole serve comes with practice.

Further, both feet must be on the ground when the shuttlecock hits the racket. So no jumping serves like a tennis-style serve. As someone who struggled to time a jump with a service, this makes the service a very simple motion.

Lastly, the service has to be hit with a forward movement. This starts once you begin your backswing, so before jumping into any competition, practice this movement, as it can be tricky to get the hang of.

Mastering these guidelines will set you up for serving success, showing your opponents that you’re not just playing – you’re playing to win.

Badminton rules around time delays.

The time between and during serves is a term of debate in a lot of net sports like tennis, volleyball and badminton. Usually, people take time on their serve to catch a breath, make sure of their serve or sometimes throw the opponent off, or a mixture of all three things!

The BWF Laws of the Game state that “neither side shall cause undue delay to the delivery of the service once the server and receiver are ready” (BWF Laws of Badminton 9.1.1). So there is no definite limit, but a service judge can call penalties when they see fit. So don’t wait around too long, but give yourself the time if you need it.

Service in Badminton – The sequence of serving

Ok, now it gets confusing. These rules can be difficult to understand, but if you see them in action or do it yourself, you can get the hang of it pretty quickly. Here we answer how many serves each player gets in badminton. So here it goes.

In Singles, the game starts at 0-0 (of course), but what’s less obvious is that the server serves from the right service court. If the server wins a rally, the server scores a point and then serves again from the alternate service court. If the receiver wins a rally, a point is scored on their tally, and they serve from the appropriate service court, the right service court if their score is even and the left service court if their score is odd.

So, did you make it out? This makes more sense when you play a game yourself, but if you’re still struggling, here is a graphic to show how it works.

a diagram showing where to serve to and from when the score is even in badminton
a diagram showing where to serve to and from when the score is odd in badminton

Doubles Service Court Rules

This is where it gets hard. If you thought tennis doubles was confusing, try this on for size. I’ll break it down here and then insert a graphic and scenario at the end to make sure you understand.

In Doubles, a side only has one ‘service’. Like Singles, at the beginning of the game and when the score is even, the server serves from the right service court. When it is odd, the server serves from the left service court. If the serving side scores a point, the serving side gets to keep serving. The player that served the last point (that they won) will continue to serve their team. If the receiver wins a rally, then they become the new serving side. You only switch your position on the court when you win a point as a server.

There it is. Take time to reread the guidelines to really make sure you understand how it works. As I said, it gets easier as you play, so go out with some friends to learn it properly. In the meantime, here is a graphic showing how it all works.

A scenario diagram that illustrates the serving conventions and rules in badminton
A full scenario- diagram breakdown courtesy of BWF Guidelines

To have a fully comprehensive list of all badminton rules, you can check out my guide on Badminton rules and Scoring system

Common Mistakes when Receiving A Serve


Alright, we’ve covered the server’s role, now let’s switch sides and get into the mindset of the receiver. Let’s be honest, receiving the serve in badminton can feel a little like playing goalie in a penalty shootout, but fear not. I’ve got some guidelines to help you out.

The golden rule of being a good receiver is readiness. You’ve got to be on your toes, primed and ready, from the moment the serve is struck. However, you cannot move before the serve is struck. So keep your timing on point.

Now, onto positioning. As a receiver, you need to ensure you’re within your respective service court. Just as the server aims to land the shuttlecock within your service court, you should be within these bounds when you receive it. Consider the service court your personal domain, and defend it well.

And finally, if the receiver attempts to return the serve, they will have been considered ready. This is to stop players from taking advantage and saying they weren’t ready when the opposition plays a good serve.

Understanding the art of receiving is just as crucial as mastering the serve. Keep practising, keep learning, and you’ll become an expert at both serving and receiving. Believe me, your opponents won’t know what hit them!

Final Thoughts

After all we’ve shared, it’s clear that mastering the serve and receiving techniques in badminton aren’t merely optional skills – they’re critical game-changers. Understanding the subtle nuances of the service court, from where to stand to how to serve or return, is like having the secret sauce that transforms your performance from good to exceptional.

Now, you’re not alone in this journey. We’ve all been in your shoes, facing the challenging dimensions of the service court with wide-eyed confusion. That’s why I’ve taken the time to break down the badminton rules and share these essential tips with you. But as with anything, theory only gets you so far. To truly excel, you need the right tools. I have an article on the best badminton rackets of 2023 here. If you’re just getting started, try my article on the best beginner rackets of 2023 here.

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