How To Play Badminton

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Badminton is a popular sport that has been around since the 16th century. What makes badminton accessible is you can play it almost anywhere with enough space. If you want to try and play it like in competitions, here’s how to play badminton the right way.

How To Play Badminton

In this article, we’ll cover every aspect of badminton that is essential for playing the game. We’ll get you well-prepared to play badminton. Whether you’re here to learn just to have fun playing badminton or want to enter into badminton tournaments, knowledge will always come in handy. 

Objective of the Game

The main objective of badminton is to hit the shuttlecock over the net until it lands on your opponent’s designated court area. Your opponent also aims to do the same to you. If you are able to return the shuttlecock, a rally occurs until the shuttlecock lands. 

Woman playing badminton

If you win enough rallies, you win the game. Most badminton games usually require 21 points to win a set. Most matches are held as best of 3 sets. 

Rules of the Game

Badminton rules can vary a lot depending on the region you’re playing. Some tournaments use different rulings so you better be aware of it first. Generally, most badminton tournaments follow the rules and format prescribed by the Badminton World Federation

Here are some common rules that are generally followed by most games:

  • Games can be played by two or four players. 1v1 (singles) and 2v2 (doubles) matches are the common formats. 
  • Official matches have to be played indoors. It also needs to follow the proper court dimensions. The right dimension for the court is 6.1 meters by 13.4 meters. 
  • The net should be placed through the middle of the court. It should be set at 1.55 meters high. 
  • The shuttlecock needs to land within the designated area of the opponent’s court to gain a point. 
  • If the shuttlecock hits the net or lands outside of your opponent’s designated area, then your opponent gains a point. 
  • The server should serve diagonally across the net. Generally, you serve on the right side if you score an even number of points. If you scored an odd number of points, you serve on the left side. 
  • There is no second serve, if you make a mistake in serving then your opponent gains a point. 
  • Legal serves must be executed underarm and below the server’s waist. Overarm serves are considered illegal. 
  • Games start with a toss to decide which player will serve first and the opponent will choose which side of the court to start. 
  • When the shuttlecock is “live” (after serving), players may move freely around the court. Players are also allowed to hit the shuttlecock from outside the playing area. 
  • If any player touches the net with any part of the body including the racket, it is called a fault and the opponent gains a point. 
  • Other fault calls include: players deliberately distracting their opponents, when the shuttlecock is caught in the racket then flung, the shuttlecock is hit twice, other violation of laws of badminton followed by the governing body.
  • Games are umpired by a referee on a high chair. Line judges are also present that observe if the shuttlecock lands inside or not. Referees have overriding calls on infringements and faults. 

Players and Equipment

As mentioned before, games may be played in singles (2 players) or doubles (4 players). There hasn’t been any added team composition on the same court yet. Therefore, I should stick with the traditional number of players. 

Badminton equipment usually consists of: 

Player preparing to hit a shuttlecock
  • Badminton racket – today’s badminton racket only weighs less than 100 grams. Frames are usually made with steel or aluminum. Materials used may also be either alloys, durable carbon fiber, ceramic, or boron. 
  • Shuttlecock – Shuttlecock consists of 16 feathers that are attached firmly in a cork. The cork is wrapped in a thin leather sheet for better protection. 
  • Badminton shoes – badminton shoes are usually built for indoor use. They offer good grip, cushioning, and a bit of lateral flexibility for movement. 
  • Grip – made with cloth or synthetic fiber. It helps absorb sweat so you will always have a dry feel on the handle. 
  • Badminton clothes – clothes for badminton are generally comfortable. It should not restrict your movements when playing.  
  • Socks – it’s generally recommended to wear thick socks so they can absorb sweat more. It also keeps your feet from sliding inside.
  • Wrist band – prevents sweat from flowing into the handle. Also, helps you wipe the sweat off your face without using your hands. 
  • Head band – prevents sweat and hair from disturbing your eyes. 

How Scoring Works

FaultNot Fault
The player fails to send the shuttlecock over the netThe shuttlecock hits the net and still goes over it
The player touches the netThe player touches the net after the shuttlecock hit the opponent’s ground
The player touches the shuttlecock twice in a rowThe player’s racket crosses the net without touching it

If the serving player/team wins a rally, they gain a point. They will also serve on the next rally. If the receiving player/team wins a rally, they gain a point. They will serve for the next rally instead of being the receiver. 

Rallies are won when a player or team manages to land the shuttlecock inside the opponent’s designated court. Another way to score is through committing faults. I’ve mentioned this before, however, I will expound more on the common faults.  

  • Unable to hit the shuttlecock before it lands within the boundary of the court.
  • The shuttlecock is hit into the net.
  • The shuttlecock didn’t go over the net. 
  • The shuttlecock lands outside the boundary of the game court. 
  • Part of the player’s body including the racket comes into contact with the net. 
  • The same player hits the shuttlecock consecutively 

How to Win a Game

There are various formats badminton games follow in order to win a game. It will vary from local badminton tournaments, official badminton matches, and your casual badminton games. 

  • Best of three games (win 2 out of 3)
  • The player or team that scores 21 points faster wins the game. 
  • When both teams have a score of 20, the team that gets a 2-point lead wins the game. 
  • If the score happens to reach 29 all, then the team that reaches 30 points first wins the game.
  • Generally, the winner of the game also gets to decide to serve first in the next game. 
Woman picking up a shuttlecock while holding a racket

Terms Commonly Used in Badminton

If you’re still new and unfamiliar with badminton, these terms will be often used. Therefore, you should learn to familiarize yourself with them. It’s also part of learning how to play badminton.

  • Backcourt – back ⅓ of the court. It is before the boundary lines on either side of the net. 
  • Backhand – A stroke that returns the shuttlecock to the left of a right-handed player and to the right of a left-handed player. 
  • Baseline – the lines that mark the boundary of the width of the court.
  • Carry – an illegal move wherein the shuttlecock is stuck on the wires of a racket before it gets released. 
  • Drive – A drive is a fast shot that makes the shuttlecock fly straight over the net and near the net. 
  • Drop shot – an ingenious shot that quickly drops the shuttlecock close to the net of the opponent’s side. 
  • Feint – a fake shot or movement to rattle the opponents before or during a serve. 
  • Forehand – the common way of badminton. A shot that returns the shuttlecock with the right side of a right-handed player. The left-side is applicable to left-handed players. 
  • Kill – a term used when the shot is so fast that there is little to no chance of returning the shuttlecock. 
  • Smash – a power shot that shoots the shuttlecock towards the opponent’s court. In order to learn it, you should practice your body positioning during games and make sure you have right racket.

Related Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about playing badminton

What Are the 3 Basic Skills in Badminton?

The three most basic skills in badminton are related to the grip, the footwork, and the hand-to-eye coordination. Once you master these skills, you will be able to improve as a badminton player. After all, these aptitudes will allow you to learn new techniques.

Is Badminton Beginner Friendly?

Yes, badminton is often regarded as a beginner-friendly game. This is because you don’t need to have specific knowledge in order to start playing a match. Badminton’s rules are quite simple and can be understood after a couple of matches.

What Is the Best Age to Learn Badminton?

Nowadays, the best age to learn badminton is between 5 and 7 seven years old. This way, the kid will start developing eye-to-hand coordination and great motor skills. Most national teams select badminton players when they are 12 or 13 years old, therefore, they need to learn from a very young age.


This is how you play badminton. Most of this information are relatable for tournaments and competitive badminton. If you’re aspiring to compete in badminton, you better learn all the basics and laws governing table tennis. 

Tim Frechette is an avid athlete, having played sports like soccer and basketball his entire life. He brings a wealth of athletic knowledge to his writing.