Rockin’ ‘N Ruling In Competitive Badminton

Justin Ma - June 29, 2021 - 0 comments

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Why Rules Matter 

Remember those carefree days of childhood games? It involved nothing more than rounding up a bunch of guys, improvising a broom handle as a bat, and hitting a pink rubber ball on the local baseball diamond of a park or school playground. The game was appropriately dubbed Stickball.

For young girls, balance and coordination were tested in a casual game of Hopscotch, Ping Pong, or backyard Badminton.

In the gameplay of boys and girls, there was always the friendly game of Tag, in which one child is designated as ‘it’ and must chase down the other players in an attempt to tag another to be ‘it’ next.

All these childhood games had one objective: FUN! Rules were as casual as the play itself, subject to change at the whim of the one who was losing, often resulting in ‘the end of the game’ and hurt feelings — until tomorrow!

All well and suitable for children, but persons with a sincere interest in sports competition, and the challenge to improve upon personal athletic skills, as well as learning to work with the skills of their teammates and the opposing team — the first rule to being a competitive athlete is that of following the rules! 

Rules To Begin The Play 

Before we get to the actual rules for playing a game, it is essential to remember those 

BWF (Badminton World Federation) standards (rules) regarding court dimensions, equipment used, and type of team play are permitted.

  • Playing Court: Competitive badminton is usually played indoors on a court 44 feet in length and divided equally in half by a net that is 5 feet 1 inch from the ground at ends and five feet at the center.  There is a parallel centerline dividing the court on double sidelines. The court width is 20 feet for doubles games and 17 feet for a singles game. The area 6 feet 6 inches from the net is called the short service line, while for a doubles game, the service line runs across the court 13 feet from the short service line. The end lines of a court mark the singles’ service line.
  • Equipment: There is minimal equipment needed to play badminton, but the ‘devil is in the details’ involving correct size and weight and material composition of the birdie, the racquet, and the net and needs to comply with BWF regulations. 

Do not neglect wearing suitable badminton shoes that will provide good grip when running, jumping, and turning on the playing court. Proper shoes offer a cushion for the feet. 

In conjunction with good badminton shoes, do not forget a thick pair of cotton socks that absorb sweat and prevent feet from slipping inside shoes. A cotton wristband keeps the sweat from flowing onto the racquet grip, and a headband will absorb sweat and keep hair from hanging in the eyes. 

  • Types Of Team Play: Badminton can be played as men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles — each team a man and woman. Only when playing casually, can two females play against two males. 

Top Five Game Rules

In accord to the Badminton World Federation, the top five rules to remember when beginning a badminton competition: 

  • Coin Toss: The winner of a coin toss gets to choose whether they want to serve or receive the birdie first OR which side of the court they want to start on. 
  • Serving: The serve needs to carry diagonally across the court to his or her opponent to be a good serve. All serves must be hit underhand, below the waist.  A serve that hits the net or does not cross over the net must be done again. 

Should the server step on the court boundary lines, that is a ‘fault’ and provides the opportunity for the opponent to serve.  The score will indicate where the server is to stand. If the score is an even number, O, 2, 4, etc., the server is to stand from the right-hand side of the court. When a score is an odd number, the server stands on the left-hand side of the court. When playing doubles, if the server wins consecutive points, then the server can switch the service area. 

  • The Net: At no time during the game shall a player touch the net with a racquet or body, nor should a player reach over the net to hit the birdie.
  • Scoring:  A badminton match is comprised of three games.  A score of 21 wins a game, and the player or team that wins two of the three games wins the match. If both teams are 20 (both have 20 points), the team getting a 2-point lead wins the game. If the score is 29-all the first team to reach 30 first wins the game.
  • Some of the ways a point is scored: 
  • On every successful serve that starts a rally. 
  • When the opponent(s) cannot return the birdie over the net.
  • The birdie goes out of the boundaries of the court. 
  • The birdie does not clear the net, or if a player hits the birdie 
  • twice with the racquet.   
  • Interval and Change Of Ends: When the score for one player reaches 11 points, players are given a 60-second interval ‘break’ to discuss strategy with the coaches, rehydrate, dry sweat with a towel, or change shirts. There is also a 2-minute interval between each game, and in the third game of the match, when 11 points are reached, players change ends, which means to switch sides.

A referee, seated in a tall chair, oversees the match being played to ensure the BWF laws, regulations, and statutes are being upheld.  An umpire is present to judge service faults and player faults and reports to the referee. The referee can override the call of the umpire. 

The umpire is also responsible for keeping track of the score, announcing it after each point in the game. The service judge is responsible for providing new shuttlecocks to players, as needed, during a game and to watch that serves are performed correctly. As the name indicates, the line judges judge whether the birdie falls in or out of the court boundary lines.

Single competitions require six officials: a service judge, four-line judges, two on each side of the court, and an umpire. With doubles competition, an additional two-line judges are assigned and positioned at the doubles service line.

If you’d like to learn more about badminton, be sure to join us at our YouTube channel, BadmintonJustin. You can learn more training drills, tips and tricks, or just watch good badminton! Thanks for reading!

Justin Ma

I am passionate about helping people find joy in playing badminton, while also showing them how competitive the sport can be.

Justin Ma


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