In singles badminton competition, the service is a critical component of the game. An expert badminton server will put the shuttlecock in a place where his opponent will have trouble making a solid return, putting the server at an advantage from the start of the point. Both the server and the receiver must follow certain rules prior to and during a singles badminton serve.
Badminton serves must be executed diagonally. For the first serve of the match, the serving player stands on the right side of the court while his opponent receives the serve on his right side, so that he is standing to the server's left rather than right in front of him. For each subsequent serve, the players switch sides of the court. The players must remain in their respective service boxes from the time the referee blows the whistle to signal the start of the point until the shuttlecock has been hit. A receiving player isn't allowed to move her feet until after the serving player has hit the shuttlecock.
A serve must land in the opponent's service area in order to be counted as in. The service area begins 6 1/2 feet from the net and goes back 15 1/2 feet to the opposing baseline. Its width extends from the centre line to the singles sideline 8 1/2 feet to the left or right, depending on which side of the court the serve is being played. A serve that hits either the front line, the baseline or one of the singles sidelines is considered in. If a serve clips the net and lands in the opponent's service area, it is considered a let serve and is retaken by the server. If the shuttlecock hits the net and lands out, the serve is lost.
Only underhand serves are allowed in singles badminton. No overhead smashes are permitted. The highest part of the racket must remain below the player's waistline, as well as the hand used to hold the shuttlecock prior to the serve. Violation of this rule results in an automatic loss of serve. A server can use either her forehand or backhand to serve the shuttlecock to her opponent, and is permitted to serve either short or long. The server must also make contact with the base of the shuttlecock for the serve to be considered legal, although the racket is allowed to come in contact with the feathers on the follow-through.