25 Badminton Rules for Success

25 Badminton Rules to Learn Before You Start

Want to Rule When You Play Badminton? Learn these 25 Badminton Rules Before You Do Anything!

It looks so simple, even a child can play the game of badminton, but not so fast eager reader! This sport has a long and distinguished history that spans half the globe and deserves your utmost respect. The game of badminton may have been conceived by the Duke of Beaufort in 1837, but his iteration of the game was only the most recent version of a game that’s over five centuries old.


A short history of badminton

The people of ancient China played a similar sport circa 5th Century BC when the game was originally invented and given the name Ti Jian Zi (translation: kick the shuttle). Various types of games requiring the use of a shuttlecock for play were adopted by societies throughout Asia over the next five centuries.

Sports historians and anthropologists have found evidence of games requiring a shuttlecock in Greece, India and Japan, most likely brought home by explorers who learned the game while busily conquering new nations. By the 16th century, rudimentary sticks were being used to play the game. In fact, England came late to the badminton party, which is somewhat ironic since the U.K. is considered the birthplace of this court sport by fans across the globe.

One man brings his favorite sport home to Britain

While the Duke of Beauford’s version of this game took a circuitous road, fans agree that today’s version is most closely based on Poona, the game Beaufort learned while living in Colonial India. Upon his return to the UK, the Duke’s passion for Poona remained unabated, but who was he going play against back in England when nobody knew the game?

Deciding that it was his mission in life to bring Poona-turned-badminton to Britain, the Duke did what any nobleman with too much time and money on his hands would do: he renamed Poona, put his own spin on the game and the badminton you play today is based on many of the same rules the Duke wrote when he introduced badminton to fellow sportsmen.

It came as no surprise that his countrymen acquired a taste for the game, too, as it proved enormously popular in a land where tennis was king. The Duke even gets credit for establishing the International Badminton Federation in 1934, so if you see him referred to as the father of this sport, that’s no exaggeration!


25 Rules of the Game of Badminton

Rule #1: No game of badminton can take place until either two (singles) or four (doubles) players take the court to begin the game.

Rule #2: Official games of badminton must be played indoors on a court that measures 6.1 meters wide by 13.4 meters in length. The badminton net must transect the court in the middle at about 1.55 meters from either end. All court markings must be easily read and marked in white or yellow so active areas are well-defined for the players.

Rule #3: Only a shuttlecock is permitted to be used on the court if play is to be considered official. Players are permitted to use two types of shuttlecocks made of natural or synthetic materials. A cork base covered by a thin piece of leather holds 16 synthetic or natural feathers in place. A shuttlecock must weigh between 4.74 and 5.50 grams to be of official weight in order to be used during a game.

Rule #4: In order for the server to score a point, the shuttlecock must fall into a specific zone within the opponent’s court. If it’s intercepted by the net or falls outside court boundaries, the point goes to the opponent.

Rule #5: All serves must be aimed diagonally across the net where the opponent awaits a turn to return the shuttlecock. There are no second chances if a serve lands outside official court parameters.

Rule #6: Players or teams must switch sides at the end of game one and again at the end of game two. If this is an official three-game match, the first player to amass 11 points in the third game is allowed to declare his wish to switch service sides.

Rule #7: Over-arm serves are prohibited. A successful serve must be launched from an underarm position and the shuttlecock must be airborne by the time the racket reaches the server’s waist. If the hand holding the racket goes higher as it delivers the strike against the shuttlecock, the player may be called by an official.

Rule #8: Once a serve has taken place, players can move around the court as they wish to retrieve and return the shuttlecock. According to the official rules of badminton, a player may even return the shuttlecock from areas outside the live playing area as long as the projectile is in play.

Rule #9: Should a player take overt actions to distract an opponent, officials may declare a fault. Additionally, if a shuttlecock is caught in the net, served twice or a racket is physically thrown to in an act of frustration, all of these actions are considered examples of poor sportsmanship and the perpetrator can be sanctioned.

Rule #10: Official badminton matches must be overseen by a referee stationed in a high chair that enables him or her to see the court and surrounding out-of-bounds areas in their entirety. Further, there must be line judges to rule on whether or not the shuttlecock lands within legal boundaries. Which of these officials has the final word? The referee; all faults and infringements plus penalties belong in his wheelhouse.

Rule #11: If an accidental or unforeseen circumstance arise, the referee may call a “let.” Such circumstances include an out-of-turn serve, stuck shuttlecock or a too-close-to-call decision.

Rule #12: A coin toss determines control of the first game. The winner may opt to serve or receive if the coin lands on the side he picked.

Rule #13: Once the shuttlecock is served, a rally is declared; this play keeps up until a point is scored or until an error is made.

Rule #14: Badminton’s newest international scoring system was updated in December 2005. To achieve victory, one player must amass 21 points over the course of three games each to be declared the match winner.

Rule #15: Should a game be tied at 29 to 29, the first player to score the 30th point wins both the game and the right to serve at the following game.

Rule #16: A badminton net must be woven of dark colored cord and its thickness must be between 15 and 20 mm. The top side of the net must be edged with 75mm white tape with cord running through the tape for stability. The net must be tight and remain flush with post tops, secured in all four corners. No gaps are permitted between net and posts.

Rule #17: No player may compete using a racket that exceeds 680 mm in length and 230 mm in width. The handle may be wrapped to aid a competitor’s grip. The stringed area must be fabricated by either interlacing or bonding strings where they cross. No objects or protrusions may be added to a racket to either limit or enhance a player’s game.

Rule #18: At the moment of service, both player’s feet must be in contact with the court surface and neither may move until the server’s racket hits the base of the shuttlecock. At the serve, the shaft and racket head must assume a downward direction and the server is prohibited from putting the shuttlecock in play again until the receiver says he’s ready.

Rule #19: The following are considered service court errors: Either player serves or returns a serve out of turn or an original service has been initiated while the competitor or receiver are standing in the wrong service court area. If a service error is called by officials, the existing score stands.

Rule #20: A fault may be called if the shuttlecock has been caught in the net, remains suspended on the top of the net, gets caught while passing over the net, it lands outside court boundaries, touches walls or the ceiling or hits any object or observer standing outside of the official play area. If the shuttlecock catches on a racket a fault may be called, especially if the player uses the stuck shuttlecock to his advantage and slings it in his opponent’s direction. The same rule applies if a player hits the shuttlecock twice or it lands in a nearby court.

Rule #21: Although referees have the final say in a badminton game, it’s the umpire who is responsible for calling a “Let” and subsequently stopping the game. A Let can be declared by the umpire if, during service, the receiver isn’t ready, at which point both players are faulted. If the shuttlecock disintegrates during play, a Let is usually called and should one player distract or disrupt the actions of an opponent or officials, that may also be grounds for a Let.

Rule #22: Badminton play is deemed continuous from the first game service until the three-game match has been played out. For this reason, only two rest periods are permitted: the first, a 90-second break after game one and the second, a 5-minute rest period is allowed after the second game in a match.

Rule #23: Circumstances under which play can be suspended include one or more players being cited by an umpire for an offense that’s subsequently validated by the referee. If there is a suspension, the existing score remains valid and play resumes at the umpire’s signal. No player may request a suspension in order to consult with a coach, regain his composure or otherwise request a break in the game for non-sanctioned reasons.

Rule #24: Players are prohibited from behaving in offensive ways, deliberately causing delays, tampering with equipment (shuttlecocks, rackets, nets), misbehaving or being found guilty of any action officials may deem misconduct. Umpires are considered the arbiters of all sanctions and as such, they have the power to issue warnings, declare faults and act appropriately to address inappropriate behavior.

Rule #25: Should action be taken against any player for the aforementioned or other circumstances in which a player is found in violation of rules of etiquette, an appeal process is available that is overseen by the referee despite the fact that the original charge is usually made by the umpire. In formal circumstances, a designated service judge in concert with a line judge will be asked to mediate such situations and make a ruling based on the sport’s official rule book.



Do you have to play by the official rules if you’re having fun in your backyard? Of course not. But it’s a great idea to have as good a grip on the rules of badminton as you do on the racket itself, if only to show off your bright mind and share fascinating badminton-related history and official guidelines with others. Besides, if your affinity for badminton moves beyond the occasional recreational match, you’ll be able to move effortlessly into formal play.

But before you join a league or decide to play with the big boys, get your hands on one of the most detailed guides on the planet published by no lesser authority than Britain’s Royal Navy. To find the mother lode of badminton rules and regulations, download this PDF and you’ll be in possession of “The Royal Navy Badminton Guide”: http://www.peai.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Royal-Navy-Badminton-Resource-Pack.pdf. After all, this reference comes directly to you from the country that gave the rest of the world the gift of badminton in the first place!

About the Author Badminton Winner