Rules of Badminton

Badminton scoring

Badminton, in its basic form, is beautifully simple and understandable.

A point is won if the shuttlecock touches the floor or fails to cross the net, the serve has to be delivered from alternate sides, and the server is the winner of the last rally.

Experiments with scoring have brought in a point-per-rally system to 21 points, replacing a centuries-old hand-in hand-out system. Under the previous rules, only the player or pair serving could score a point, making matches last an uncertain length of time. The newer, time-predictable system suits television schedules better.

Serving and Shots

Badminton players usually attempt either a low service, tight over the net and accurate to the lines, or a high service, lifted deep to the baseline. The racket head must not be above the waist while serving.

Rallies often involve four kinds of shot:

  1. Deep and high to the back of the court, with overhead clears, or flicks and lifts
  2. Fast and flat from the mid-court
  3. Gentle and delicate shots in the forecourt, using tumblers, hairpins and pushes
  4. Steep, attacking shots with powerful smashes or subtle drops

    Singles and Doubles

    Since one person covers the entire court in badminton singles, tactics are often based on making the opponent move, for example by directing shots towards the corners.

    Because singles demands extraordinary fitness, it can become a game of manoeuvring rather than the all-out aggression characteristic of men’s (and sometimes mixed) doubles.

    Doubles is played in tactical formations in which the pair with one player in the forecourt and the other at the back is likely to be attacking, and the pair situated side-to-side is more likely to be defending.

    For more details on point scoring and serving, check out the Badminton World Federations’ Simplified Rules guide.

    Download the Laws of Badminton [PDF 0.6Mb] here >>

    (published by the Badminton Union of Ireland)

    Download Badminton Ireland Code of Conduct for Children’s Sport [PDF 0.3Mb]

    (published by the Badminton Union of Ireland)