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Playing Badminton

Badminton is a racquet sport played by either two opposing players (singles) or two opposing pairs (doubles), who take positions on opposite halves of a rectangular court that is divided by a net. Players score points by striking a shuttlecock with their racquet so that it passes over the net and lands in their opponents’ half of the court. Each side may only strike the shuttlecock once before it passes over the net. A rally ends once the shuttlecock has struck the floor.

The shuttlecock (or shuttle) is a feathered projectile whose unique aerodynamic properties cause it to fly differently than the balls used in most racquet sports; in particular, the feathers create much higher drag, causing the shuttlecock to decelerate more rapidly than a ball.

Badminton Basics

Each game is played to 21 points, with players scoring a point whenever they win a rally regardless of whether they served. A match is the best of three games.

At the start of a rally, the server and receiver stand in diagonally opposite service courts. In singles, the server stands in their right service court when their score is even, and in the left service court when their score is odd. The server hits the shuttlecock so that it would land in the receiver’s service court. This is similar to tennis, except that a badminton serve must be hit below waist height and with the racquet shaft pointing downwards, the shuttlecock is not allowed to bounce.

If the server wins the rally, a point is given and the serve is retained, alternating service courts (right/even & left/odd).  Service is retained until a ‘fault’ is made or the shuttle ceases to be in play.

In doubles, if the serving side wins a rally, the same player continues to serve, but he/she changes service courts so that she/he serves to a different opponent each time. If the opponents win the rally and their new score is even, the player in the right service court serves; if odd, the player in the left service court serves. The players’ service courts are determined by their positions at the start of the previous rally, not by where they were standing at the end of the rally. A consequence of this system is that, each time a side regains the service, the server will be the player who did not serve last time.

Playing Court

The Badminton court is rectangular and divided into halves by a net. The doubles court is wider than the singles court, but both are of same length. The doubles court has a shorter serve-length dimension.

The full width of the Doubles court is 20 ft.  In singles this width is reduced to 17 ft. The full length of the court is 44 ft. The service courts are marked by a centre line dividing the width of the court, by a short service line at a distance of 6’6″ from the net, and by the outer side and back boundaries. In doubles, the service court is also marked by a long service line, which is 2’6″ from the back boundary.

The net is 5′ high in the center.

Badminton Scoring

The current scoring system in badminton is the 3 × 21 rally point scoring system. This means that three games (i.e. one match) are played to 21 points each, with a required two point difference between scores (meaning scores can go above 21, to a maximum of 30). The winner of a rally scores a point regardless of who served. This scoring system was adopted from August 2006. A player wins a rally when he strikes the shuttlecock and it touches the floor of the opponent’s side of the court. The court size varies when playing singles or doubles. If the shuttlecock goes out of bounds it is called a fault.


A ‘let’ may be given for any unforeseen or accidental occurrence. Lets may occur for a variety of reasons.  Often because of an unexpected disturbance such as a shuttlecock landing on court (having been hit there by players on an adjacent court) or if the server serves before the receiver is ready. If a let is called, the rally is stopped and replayed with no change to the score.

If the receiver is not ready when the service is delivered, a let shall be called.  However, that only works if the if the receiver does not attempt to return the serve.

Badminton Skills

Types of Shots

  • Lob Shot – The aim is to lift or ‘lob’ the shuttle over your opponent and aim to make the shuttle land as near to the baseline as possible without hitting it out.
  • Drop Shot – The drop shot is played from above the head in the same way as the clear except the drop shot is hit with a lot less power. If  played correctly it should have just enough power to clear the net but then drop down to the floor.
  • Smash Shot – A Smash is similar to a spike in volleyball. The smash is used when an opponent returns the shuttle high but short.  If executed well it is probably the most difficult shot to return, just because of the pace and direction put on the shuttle. The downward angle of the shot is just as important as the speed with which it is hit.  The smash is probably the most attacking shot in badminton.
  • Drive Shot – Hit hard on a horizontal or slightly downward path, usually played down the sidelines of the court. This is a safe shot in badminton and if played correctly it will force an opponent to hit an upward return, giving the other player a chance to attack.
  • Net Shot – Should tumble just over the top of the net and drop as close to the net as possible on the opponents side.

The basic strokes are:

  • Underarm Forehand Stroke
  • Underarm Backhand Stroke
  • Overhead Forehand Stroke
  • Overhead Backhand Stroke

Making Your Own Badminton Poles


The key to the poles are simply a pair of used car tires. It’s best if they aren’t overly worn and falling apart, though. You’ll also need 5 or 6 bags of quick setting concrete, a wheelbarrow, water hose, a shovel, and two 6 foot metal or wooden poles. Finally, a couple of eye bolts long enough to pass through the pole and bolt into place.

Setting the Poles

Lay down a piece of cardboard, or other surface to use as a base to keep things flat, then lay the tires flat on this surface and prop the poles vertically in the center of the hole in the tire. Prop the poles so that they will be steady while the concrete cures.

Mix up 2 bags of concrete in a wheelbarrow. Mixing the concrete wet helps it to flow inside of the tire. Pour or scoop your concrete in to one of the tires. This will give you an idea of how many bags will be needed to fill both tires. If 2 is enough, just mix another couple of bags and fill the second tire, otherwise mix up more or less to suit.

Placing the Bolts

Drill holes in the poles for the eye bolts. These are what the net will attach to. The top eye bolt will be at 5 feet 1 inch, which allows a slight sag to keep the net at 5′ high in the center. Place the lowest bolt about 2 feet from the ground. It should pull down on the lower half of the net.

Once the concrete is cured you can attach your net and pull everything tight. You’re good to go!