Badminton is one of the most intense, fast-paced, and captivating sports out there. And with hundreds of millions of players worldwide, you’re not alone if you’ve been wondering how to play it for yourself. Luckily, we’ve put together everything you need to know to get started.
Below, find a quick and easy-to-understand guide on how to play badminton — including the objective, rules, singles and doubles tips, and more.
What You’ll Need to Get Started
Here’s everything you’ll need to play a badminton game:
- Court or home net setup
- Shuttlecock (popularly known as a birdie)
The Objective of Badminton
Badminton’s main objective is to hit the shuttlecock into the “in” zone on your opponent’s court — without them being able to return it successfully. When you pull this off, you’ll score a point and win the rally.
Before you start a match, here’s what you need to know about the service rules:
- Players use a coin toss to figure out who serves first.
- The player who serves first will start at the right side of the service court, aiming to land the bird in the diagonal service court on their opponent’s side.
- Later in a game, your score will determine which side you serve from. If your score is odd, you’ll serve from the left court. If it’s even, you’ll serve from the right.
- Before hitting the shuttle, make sure both of your feet are touching the floor. In addition, be sure not to stand on any court lines while serving.
- Whichever team scores a point will serve in the next rally.
- The shuttle must be hit at the cork — not at the feather.
- The server should hit the shuttle below waist height.
- The winning side will serve first in the next game.
A Rundown on the Scoring System
A badminton match is made of three games that go up to 21 points. Whichever team wins two of the three games will be the official winner of the match. If you and your opponent end up tied at 20 points, the first side to gain a two-point lead wins the game.
How to Win Points
So, how can you score points in a badminton game?
As mentioned above, the first (and most exciting) way to score is to hit a shot into your opponent’s court without them being able to return it. Most players aim to do this with a powerful smash — but you can also catch your opponent off guard with trick shots or other strategic moves.
Aside from that, you win a point if your opponent hits the bird out of bounds or commits another fault.
Singles, Doubles, and Mixed Doubles
Badminton rules are similar across the board — but there are some key differences in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles. The first (and most obvious) is that singles games are one versus one, while doubles games are two versus two.
Beyond that, here are a few other main distinctions:
- You’ll have a smaller court width in singles, which means you won’t use the outermost boundary line as a limit. Instead, you’ll use the next closest line — aka the singles sideline — as the boundary. On the flip side, the sideline in doubles is the outermost boundary line.
- Service rotations: In doubles, you’ll need to work with your teammate to remember who’s serving from which side. When your team serves and wins a point, you’ll swap sides with your partner.
- Mixed doubles is generally the same as doubles. The one main difference is that the male player usually covers the backcourt, while the female player stays in front.
Your strategy will likely shift depending on whether you’re playing singles or doubles. For example, because you’re a one-person team in singles, you’ll need to cover your entire court. This means you’ll have to be extra strategic with your footwork, shots, and tactics.
But when playing doubles, you and your partner can work together to cover different areas on the court. However, facing two opponents can make for an extremely fast-paced game — so you’ll still need to stay on your toes and react quickly.
Different Shot Choices
Without going too far into the nitty-gritty, doubles and singles players may use slightly different shot techniques. For example, singles players might choose to attack with smashes, drops, and clears, while doubles players may focus on winning points with smashes and drive shots.
Starting Your Badminton Journey
Learning how to play badminton can feel overwhelming at first — but by keeping these simple rules and guidelines in mind, you’ll catch on in no time.