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Badminton Rules

The rules of badminton are very simple. When you know them. Or when someone explains them clearly. Which is what I hope to do here!

Basic basics | In play | Serving | Faults | Doubles | Changing Sides

Basic basics

Badminton is played with either 2 people (singles), or 4 people (doubles).

The object of the game is to win as many points as you can up until a certain number, and whoever reaches that number of points first is the winner.

It is played on a badminton court, and is played by hitting a shuttlecock over the net to your opponent, using a badminton racket.

The shuttlecock (or shuttle) is hit back and forward between you and your opponent. This is called a rally.

In play

A rally is started by one of the players hitting the shuttle over the net, which is called the serve.

So when someone has served the shuttle and a rally is in progress, it stops when someone fails to hit the shuttle back into their opponent's side of the court. This person has then lost the rally.

If the person who won the rally was serving, then they win a point and continue serving. If the person who lost the rally was serving, the serve passes to their opponent.

And this then carries on until one person has reached a certain number of points, which is usually 15 for men and 11 for women.

In badminton, zero is called 'love'. So at the start of the game, the score is 'love-all'.

Serving

Now when someone is serving they stand behind the service line on either the left or the right side of the court.

If their score is even, they stand on the right and if it is odd they stand on the left.

They then serve to the diagonally opposite side of their opponent's court, and the rally continues.

During the rally, each shot must land within the court. If you think one of your opponent's shots is going to land outside of the court, you can leave it (ie let it land), and if it does go 'out', you win the point. If not, your opponent wins the point.

Another way that a rally can end is if one player hits the shuttle into the net, ie fails to hit it into their opponent's side of the court.

When you serve, you must not have the shuttle above your waist, and the head of your racket must be fully below your hand. You must also have both feet on the ground.

The serve must be one continuous movement, and the racket must hit the shuttle on it's base.

Faults

If at anytime someone hits the shuttle more than once or it touches a part of their body (or clothes), they automatically lose the point. This is called a fault.

In doubles, only one person is allowed to hit the shuttle before it goes back to the opponents' side; if both players hit the shuttle this too is a fault.

The serving is a little different in doubles as well.

Doubles

In doubles, the first person serves from the right hand side. They continue to serve (changing sides each point) until they lose a point.

Then the serve goes to the opponents. First the player on the right serves, again serving until they lose a point. When this happens, the second player serves. When they lose a point, the serve returns to the opponents again.

If the scoring gets to 14-14 (in a game to 15), the player(s) who got to 14 first have the option to 'set'.

This means playing to three extra points (ie the first to 17 points). If they choose not to set, the game continues to 15.

Changing Sides

After playing a game, if playing 'best-of-three' you swap sides with your opponent. If the game then goes to a third game, you swap again. And then you swap after 8 points in this final game (if the game is to 15).

There are three types of doubles; men's doubles, women's doubles and mixed doubles, which is where your partner is a member of the opposite sex.

This article is brought to you by Badminton Secrets, home of the free Badminton Secrets Newsletter.

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