Singles & Doubles Badminton Rules

Updated February 21, 2017

Badminton is a racket sport, like tennis and squash, and can be played as a singles game or a doubles game, just like tennis. Play takes place on a rectangular court with a net stretched across the middle. The court is divided into left and right sections on each side of the net. Players--or teams, in the case of doubles matches--hit a shuttlecock, traditionally made from cork and feathers, over the net to score points. Despite its status as an Olympic sport, it's also played recreationally in gardens and parks and on beaches. Here are the basic rules of the game.

Scoring System

Competitive badminton follows a best-of-three-games format, in which the first player in men's competition, or the first team in doubles matches, to reach 21 points wins the match. The decision to make 21 points the goal of each game was made by the International Badminton Federation in 2006. Recreational games, however, usually go to 15 points for men's singles and all doubles matches. In women's singles, the first player to reach 11 points wins the game.

Points can be scored only when serving, by winning a rally, which is simply the hitting of the shuttlecock back and forth over the net. When the person (or team) serving the shuttlecock wins a rally (by landing the shuttlecock inside the boundary lines on the opponent's side of the court, or if the opponent hits the shuttlecock out of bounds or into the net), the server wins a point. If the receiving side wins a rally, the score remains unchanged and the receiving side gets to serve.

Serving and Receiving in Singles Matches

When the server has an even number of points, he must serve from the right half of the court on his side of the net, and the opponent must receive the serve in the right half of the court on his side of the net. If the server has an odd number of points, he must serve from the left side and the opponent must receive on the left side. At the beginning of a game, the player serving first must serve from the right side of the court.

Serving and Receiving in Doubles Matches

As in the singles game, the initial service takes place by a player standing in the right-hand court, and is received by the opponent standing in the right-court on the other side of the net. As in singles, the right-hand court is used for service when the serving team has an even number of points in the game, the left-hand side when the serving team has an odd number of points. When the team that first served loses the right to serve, service passes to the player on the opposing team who first received. From this point on, service passes to alternate players on each side until the end of the game.

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About the Author

Peter Lancett has been writing professionally for 10 years. He has five novels and a series of award-winning illustrated books currently distributed internationally. Lancett writes for film and television alongside his work for Demand Studios. He has traveled extensively and has lived in England and New Zealand.