Basic Rules of Badminton Including Serving Faults

The racket game of badminton consists of two single players or two pairs of players. Players compete on a rectangular court divided by a centre net. Badminton differs from tennis in that it does not use a ball. Badminton players strike a feathered or webbed plastic cone with a rubber tip known as a shuttlecock, shuttle or birdie. The object of the game involves volleying the shuttlecock over the net without it touching the ground.

Coin Toss

Each badminton match begins with a coin toss. The player or team winning the toss chooses whether to serve or receive and from which end of the court to play.


The direction of the serve will always be diagonal or cross-court. Service form must meet regulations to be considered legal (see Serving Faults). After the first serve of the game, the player or team winning the last point controls the serve.


During play, no player can touch the net with a racket or body. A player must never reach over the net to strike the shuttlecock.


Each team or player can hit the shuttlecock only one time per volley. Once the racket makes contact with the shuttle, the player cannot strike it a second time. The shuttlecock may not come to rest or be carried on the face of the racket.

Serving Faults

The basic rules of badminton specify that a shuttle strike must occur below the server's waist and the racket head should be positioned below the server's hand. Other serving faults include: the shuttlecock landing in the wrong service court (the one directly across from the server), falling short of the service court boundary or out of bounds. An official issues a serving fault if the served shuttle becomes caught in the net.


According to, the most common fault happens when a player does not send the shuttlecock completely over the net or it lands out of bounds. If the shuttle hits the ceiling, it counts as a fault. Other faults range from a player physically infringing on an opponent's court to a player preventing an opponent from completing a legal shuttle strike.


A player or team earns a point if the shuttlecock fails to be returned and falls on the ground within the opponent's court. Similarly, a point is scored if the opponent strikes the shuttle and it does not cross the net or lands out of bounds.

Set and Match

A badminton match consists of the best of three games or sets of 21 points each. In order to win a game or set, the player or teams must have at least a two-point advantage.

Changing Sides

The basic rules of badminton indicate players change sides after the first game and prior to the third game. If a third game is played, opponents switch sides again when the leader reaches 11 points.

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