Badminton rules have been honed over centuries of play and govern the sport in a fashion designed to promote fairness and efficiency. Some common laws of badminton are as follows:
Occurring before the match proper, the winner of the toss, or the opening volley, has the choice of serving choosing which part of the court they'll play on, meaning the loser has the other choice. The victor of the opening game of the match serves first in the subsequent game.
A winning score in badminton is 21, which recently replaced an older system where it took fewer points to win. A player must win by two points unless the score reaches 30-29. The winner of a badminton match is the one who wins the best of three games.
A player serves and receives in the right service court if the player or their opponent have scored an even number of points at that juncture of the game. A player serves and receives in the left service court if the player or their opponent has scored an odd number of points at that juncture of the game. The shuttle is volleyed back and forth until a fault is committed or the shuttle has exited the field of play.
Faults can occur for a wide variety of reasons, including improper shuttle contact, improper shuttle landing, improper player contact, player misconduct, or double hits.
Lets can be called for a variety of reasons, including if a shuttle is caught on top of or in the net, if both players fault, if a player is unready for a serve, if officials are unable to make a ruling decision, if a shuttle falls apart, or if there is a service court error.
Points are scored if a serve lands on the opponent’s court without being volleyed back or if the opponent returns a volley outside of the field of play. The player who gains the point retains the serve until it is broken by the opponent.
Service Court Errors
A service court error has been committed if a player has served out of their rotation, if a player has served from the wrong court, or if a player is standing on the wrong court while receiving a serve. Service court errors can only be enforced if discovered prior to the next serve. If the error is discovered and it both sides committed it, a “let” will result. If the offending player won the rally, it shall also be a 'let'. If the offending player lost the rally, the error is null.
The Laws of Badminton (simplified)
1. Court Measurements
The court be a rectangle measuring 5 meters in width (for singles) or 6 meters in width (for doubles), and 13.5 meters in length, bisected by a net at least 1.5 meters tall.
2. The Shuttle
Shuttles may be natural or synthetic, and must comply with Badminton World Federation standards.
3. The Racket
Rackets may be strung with natural or synthetic fibers, and must comply with Badminton World Federation standards.
4. The Toss
Before a match, a coin toss will be conducted with a captain from each side. The winning side may choose ONE of the following: A. side of court; B. to serve or receive first. The losing side chooses the other.
A match shall be the best of three games, unless otherwise arranged. The side that scores 21 or more points first, and has at least a 2-point lead, will win the game. If neither side is able to achieve a 2-point lead, the first side to reach 30 points wins. To score a point, a side must win a "rally," either by the shuttle touching the ground within the opposing side's boundaries, or by the opposing side committing a "fault." Sides will change ends of the court after each game. Game winners will serve first in the next game.
6. Service and Play
The server and receiver shall stand diagonally opposite, and must keep two feet down until the service is delivered (i.e. no jumping). The initial service must be underhand. If the server's side wins a rally, the server will alternate sides of their court for subsequent serves. If the receiver's side wins a rally, the receiver will become the new server. If playing doubles, service will alternate between players on a side when service changes. After the service, play continues until a point is scored, each team taking turns returning the shuttle over the net.
7. Faults (point awarded to other team):
- Incorrect service (not underhand, both feet not touching down, shuttle lands in wrong court)
- shuttle lands outside court boundaries, strikes a post, or fails to pass over the net
- shuttle touches a player's body
- shuttle caught and held on racket
- shuttle hit twice by same player or team
- player touches net, opposing player, or court
- player deliberately distracts or obstructs opponent
- umpire discretion
8. Lets (no points awarded, repeat service)
- Fault on both teams
- Shuttle damaged or stuck in net
- Accidental disruption in play
- umpire unable to determine whether shuttle landed in/out
- one 60-second break when one team reaches 11 points
- one 120-second break between games
- suspension as necessary for weather or other special circumstances