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The Rules of Badminton

    At the time of posting (16/1/01), these were the rules of badminton as they currently stand

  1. Court & court equipment
  2. Shuttle
  3. Testing a shuttle for speed
  4. Racket
  5. Equipment compliance
  6. Toss
  7. Scoring system
  8. Change of ends
  9. Service
  10. Singles
  11. Doubles
  12. Service court errors
  13. Faults
  14. Lets
  15. Shuttle not in play
  16. Continuous play, misconduct, penalties
  17. Officials and appeals



Any person playing badminton


The basic contest in badminton between opposing sides each of 1 or 2 players


A match where there is one player on each of the opposing sides


A match where there are two players on each of the opposing sides

Serving side

The side having the right to serve

Receiving side

The side opposing the serving side


    1. The court shall be a rectangle and laid out with lines 40mm wide as in Diagram A.
    2. The lines shall be easily distinguishable and preferably be coloured white or yellow.
    3. All lines form part of the area which they define.
    4. The posts shall be 1.55 metres in height from the surface of the court and shall remain vertical when the net is strained as provided in Law 1.10.
    5. The posts shall be placed on the doubles side lines as in Diagram A, irrespective of whether singles or doubles is being played.
    6. The net shall be made of fine cord of dark colour and even thickness with a mesh of not less than l5mm and not more than 20mm.
    7. The net shall be 760mm in depth and at least 6.1 metres wide.
    8. The top of the net shall be edged with a 75mm white cloth tape doubled over a cord or cable running through the tape. This tape must rest upon the cord or cable.
    9. The cord or cable shall be stretched firmly, flush with the top of the posts.
    10. The top of the net from the surface of the court shall be 1.524 metres at the centre of the court and 1.55 metres over the side lines for doubles.
    11. There shall be no gaps between the ends of the net and the posts. If necessary, the full depth of the net should be tied at the ends.

    1. The shuttle may be made from natural and/or synthetic materials. From whatever material the shuttle is made, the flight characteristics generally should be similar to those produced by a natural feathered shuttle with a cork base covered by a thin layer of leather.
    2. The shuttle shall have 16 feathers fixed in the base.
    3. The feathers shall be measured from the tip to the top of the base and each shuttle shall be of the same length. This length can be between 62mm and 70mm.
    4. The tips of the feathers shall lie on a circle with a diameter from 58mm to 68mm.
    5. The feathers shall be fastened firmly with thread or other suitable material.
    6. The base shall be 25mm to 28mm in diameter and rounded on the bottom.
    7. The shuttle shall weigh from 4.74 to 5.50 grams.
    8. Non-Feathered Shuttle
      1. The skirt, or simulation of feathers in synthetic materials, replaces natural feathers.
      2. The base is described in Law 2.6.
      3. Measurements and weight shall be as in Laws 2.3, 2.4 and 2.7. However, because of the difference in the specific gravity and other properties of synthetic materials in comparison with feathers, a variation of up to 10 per cent is acceptable.
    9. Subject to there being no variation in the design, speed and flight of the shuttle, modifications in the above specifications may be made with the approval of the Member Association concerned:
      1. in places where atmospheric conditions due to either altitude or climate make the standard shuttle unsuitable
      2. if special circumstances exist which make it otherwise necessary in the interests of the game
  3. Testing a Shuttle for speed
    1. To test a shuttle, use a full underhand stroke which makes contact with the shuttle over the back boundary line. The shuttle shall be hit at an upward angle and in a direction parallel to the side lines.
    2. A shuttle of correct speed will land not less than 530mm and not more than 990mm short of the other back boundary line as in Diagram B.

    1. The parts of a racket are described in Laws 4.1.1 to 4.1.7 and are illustrated in Diagram C.
      1. The main racket parts are called the handle, the stringed area, the head, the shaft, the throat and the frame.
      2. The handle is the part of the racket intended to be gripped by the player.
      3. The stringed area is the part of the racket with which it is intended the player hits the shuttle.
      4. The head bounds the stringed area.
      5. The shaft connects the handle to the head (subject to Law 4.1.6).
      6. The throat (if present) connects the shaft to the head.
      7. The frame is the name given to the head, throat, shaft and handle taken together.
    2. The frame of the racket shall not exceed 680mm in overall length and 230mm in overall width.
    3. Stringed area
      1. The stringed area shall be flat and consist of a pattern of crossed strings either alternately interlaced or bonded where they cross. The stringing pattern shall be generally uniform and, in particular, not less dense in the centre than in any other area.
      2. The stringed area shall not exceed 280mm in overall length and 220mm in overall width. However, the strings may extend into an area which otherwise would be the throat, provided that the width of the extended stringed area does not exceed 35mm and provided that the overall length of the stringed area does not then exceed 330mm.
    4. The racket:
      1. shall be free of attached objects and protrusions, other than those used solely and specifically to limit or prevent wear and tear, or vibration, or to distribute weight, or to secure the handle by cord to the player's hand, and which are reasonable in size and placement for such purposes; and
      2. shall be free of any device which makes it possible for a player to change materially the shape of the racket.
  6. The International Badminton Federation shall rule on any question of whether any racket, shuttle or equipment or any prototype used in the playing of badminton complies with the specifications. Such ruling may be undertaken on the Federation's initiative or upon application by any party with a bona fide interest therein, including any player, equipment manufacturer or Member Association or member thereof.

  7. TOSS
    1. Before play commences, a toss shall be conducted and the side winning the toss shall exercise the choice in either Law 6.1.1 or Law 6.1.2.
      1. to serve or receive first.
      2. To start play at one end of the court or the other.
    2. The side losing the toss shall then exercise the remaining choice.
    1. A match shall consist of the best of three games unless, otherwise arranged.
    2. In doubles and men's singles a game is won by the first side to score 15 points, except as provided in Law 7.4.
    3. In ladies' singles a game is won by the first side to score 11 points, except as provided in Law 7.4.
    4. If the score becomes 14-all (10-all in ladies' singles), the side which first scored 14 (10) shall exercise the choice in Law 7.4.1 or 7.4.2;
      1. to continue the game to 15 (11) points, ie not to 'set' the game; or
      2. to 'set' the game to 17 (13) points.
    5. The side winning a game serves first in the next game.
    6. Only the serving end can add a point to its score (see Law 10.3 or 11.4)
    1. Players shall change ends:
      1. at the end of the first game;
      2. prior to the beginning of the third game (if any); and
      3. in the third game, or in a match of one game , when the leading score reaches:

      6 in a game of 11 points; or
      - 8 in a game of 15 points.

    2. If players omit to change ends as indicated in Law 8.1, they shall do so as soon as the mistake is discovered and the shuttle is not in play. The existing score shall stand.
    1. In a correct service:
      1. neither side shall cause undue delay to the delivery of the service once server and receiver have taken up their respective positions;
      2. the server and receiver shall stand within diagonally opposite service courts without touching the boundary lines of these service courts;
      3. some part of both feet of the server and receiver must remain in contact with the surface of the court in a stationary position from the start of the service until the service is delivered (Law 9.6);
      4. the server's racket shall initially hit the base of the shuttle;
      5. the whole of shuttle shall be below the server's waist at the instant of being hit by the server's racket;
      6. the shaft of the server's racket at the instant of hitting the shuttle shall be pointing in a downward direction to such an extent that the whole of the head of the racket is discernibly below the whole of the server's hand holding the racket as in Diagram D.
      7. the movement of the server's racket must continue forwards after the start of the service (Law 9.4) until the service is delivered; and
      8. the flight of the shuttle shall be upwards from the server's racket to pass over the net so that, if not intercepted, it falls in the receiver's service court (ie on or within the boundary lines).
    2. If a service is not correct by virtue of any of Laws 9.1.1 to 9.1.8, it shall be a 'fault' (Law 13) by the offending side.
    3. It is a 'fault' if the server, in attempting to serve, misses the shuttle.
    4. Once the players have taken their positions, the first forward movement of the server's racket head is the start of the service.
    5. The server shall not serve before the receiver is ready but the receiver shall be considered to have been ready if a return of service is attempted.
    6. Once the service is started (Law 9.4), it is delivered when the shuttle is hit by the server's racket or, in attempting to serve, the server misses the shuttle.
    7. In doubles, the partners may take up any positions which do not unsight the opposing server or receiver.

    Positions of the racket and of the server's hand holding it at the instant of striking the shuttle

    1. Serving and receiving courts
      1. The players shall serve from, and receive in, their respective right service courts when the server has not scored or has scored an even number of points in that game.
      2. The players shall serve from, and receive in, their respective left service courts when the server has scored an odd number of points in that game.
    2. The shuttle is hit alternately by the server and the receiver until a 'fault' is made or the shuttle ceases to be in play.
    3. Scoring and serving
      1. If the receiver makes a 'fault' or the shuttle ceases to be in play because it touches the surface of the court inside the receiver's court, the server scores a point. The server then serves again from the alternate service court.
      2. If the server makes a 'fault' or the shuttle ceases to be in play because it touches the surface of the court inside the server's court, the server loses the right to continue serving and the receiver then becomes the server, with no point scored by either player.
    1. At the start of a game, and each time a side gains the right to serve, the service shall be delivered from the right service court.
    2. Only the receiver shall return the service: should the shuttle touch or be hit by the receiver's partner, it shall be a 'fault' and the serving side scores a point.
    3. Order of play and position on court
      1. After the service is returned, the shuttle may be hit by either player of the serving side and then by either player of the receiving side, and so on, until the shuttle ceases to be in play.
      2. After the service is returned, a player may hit the shuttle from any position on that player's side of the net.
    4. Scoring and serving
      1. If the receiving side makes a 'fault' or the shuttle ceases to be in play because it touches the surface of the court inside the receiving side's court, the serving side scores a point and the server serves again.
      2. If the serving side makes a 'fault' or the shuttle ceases to be in play because it touches the surface of the court inside the serving side's court, the server loses the right to continue serving, with no point scored by either side.
    5. Serving and receiving courts
      1. The player who serves at the start of any game shall serve from, or receive in, the right service court when that player's side has not scored or has scored an even number of points in that game and the left service court when that player's side has scored an odd number of points in that game.
      2. The player who receives at the start of any game shall receive in, or serve from, the right service court when that player's side has not scored or has scored an even number of points in that game and the left service court when that player's side has scored an odd number of points in that game.
      3. The reverse pattern shall apply to the partners.
    6. Service in any turn of serving shall be delivered from alternate service courts, except as provided in Laws 12 and 14.
    7. In any game, the right to serve passes consecutively from the initial server to the initial receiver, then to the initial receiver's partner, then to the opponent who is due to serve from the right service court (Law 11.5), then to that player's partner, and so on.
    8. No player shall serve out of turn, receive out of turn, or receive two consecutive services in the same game, except as provided in Laws 12 and 14.
    9. Either player of the winning side may serve first in the next game, and either player of the losing side may receive.
    1. A service court error has been made when a player:
      1. has served out of turn;
      2. has served from the wrong service court; or
      3. standing in the wrong service court, was prepared to receive the service and it has been delivered.
    2. If a service court error is discovered after the next service has been delivered, the error shall not be corrected.
    3. If a service court error is discovered before the next service is delivered:
      1. if both sides commiteed an error, it shall be a 'let'
      2. if one side committed the error and won the rally, it shall be a 'let'
      3. if one side committed the error and lost the rally, the error shall not be corrected
    4. If there is a 'let' because of a service court error, the rally is replayed with the error corrected.
    5. If a service court error is not to be corrected, play in that game shall proceed without changing the players' new service courts (nor, when relevant, the new order of serving).
  14. FAULTS
  15. It is a 'fault':

    1. if a service is not correct (Law 9.1) or if Law 9.3 or 11.2 applies;
    2. if in play the shuttle:
      1. lands outside the boundaries of the court (ie not on or within the boundary lines);
      2. passes through or under the net;
      3. fails to pass the net;
      4. touches the ceiling or side walls;
      5. touches the person or dress of a player; or
      6. touches any other object or person outside the immediate surroundings of the court;
      7. (Where necessary on account of the structure of the building, the local badminton authority may, subject to the right of veto of its Member Association, make bye-laws dealing with cases in which a shuttle touches an obstruction).
    3. if, when in play, the initial point of contact with the shuttle is not on the striker's side of the net. (The striker may, however, follow the shuttle over the net with the racket in the course of a stroke);
    4. if, when the shuttle is in play, a player:
      1. touches the net or its supports with racket, person or dress;
      2. invades an opponent's court over the net with racket or person except as permitted in Law 13.3;
      3. invades an opponent's court under the net with racket or person such that an opponent is obstructed or distracted; or
      4. obstructs an opponent, ie prevents an opponent from making a legal stroke where the shuttle is followed over the net.
    5. if, in play, a player deliberately distracts an opponent by any action such as shouting or making gestures;
    6. if, in play, the shuttle:
      1. is caught and held on the racket and then slung during the execution of a stroke;
      2. is hit twice in succession by the same player with two strokes;
      3. is hit by a player and the player's partner successively; or
      4. touches a player's racket and continues towards the back of that player's court;
    7. if a player is guilty of flagrant, repeated or persistent offences under Law 16.
    8. if, on service, the shuttle is caught on the net and remains suspended on top or, on service, after passing over the net is caught in the net;
  16. LETS
    1. 'Let' is called by the umpire, or by a player (if there is no umpire) to halt play.
    2. A 'let' may be given for any unforeseen or accidental occurrence.
    3. If a shuttle is caught on the net and remains suspended on top or, after passing over the net, is caught in the net, it is a 'let' except on service.
    4. If during service, the receiver and server are both faulted at the same time, it shall be a 'let'.
    5. If the server serves before the receiver is ready it shall be a 'let'.
    6. If during play, the shuttle disintegrates and the base completely separates from the rest of the shuttle, it shall be a 'let'.
    7. If a line judge is unsighted and the umpire is unable to make a decision, it shall be a 'let'.
    8. A 'let' may occur following a service court error; see Law 12.3
    9. When a 'let' occurs, the play since the last service shall not count and the player who served shall serve again, except where Law 14 is applicable.
  18. A shuttle is not in play when:

    1. it strikes the net and remains attached there or suspended on top;
    2. it strikes the net or post and starts to fall towards the surface of the court on the striker's side of the net;
    3. it hits the surface of the court; or
    4. a 'fault' or 'let' has occurred.
    1. Play shall be continuous from the first service until the match is concluded, except as allowed in Laws 16.2 and 16.3.
    2. Intervals not exceeding 90 seconds between the first and second games, and not exceeding 5 minutes between the second and third games, are allowed in all matches in all of the following situations:
      1. international competitive events;
      2. IBF-sanctioned events; and
      3. all other matches unless the Member Association has previously published a decision not to allow such intervals.
      4. (In televised matches the Referee may decide before the match that intervals as in Law 16.2 are mandatory and of fixed duration.)
    3. Suspension of play
      1. When necessitated by circumstances not within the control of the players, the umpire may suspend play for such a period as the umpire may consider necessary
      2. Under special cicumstances the Referee may instruct the umpire to suspend play
      3. If play is suspended, the existing score shall stand and play be resumed from that point.
    4. Under no circumstances shall play be delayed to enable a player to recover strength or wind.
    5. Advice and leaving the court
      1. Except in the intervals provided in Laws 16.2 and 16.3, no player shall be permitted to receive advice during a match.
      2. Except during the five-minute interval described in Law 16.2, no player shall leave the court during a match without the umpire's permission.
    6. The umpire shall be the sole judge of any suspension of play.
    7. A player shall not:
      1. deliberately cause delay in or suspension of play;
      2. deliberately modify or damage the shuttle in order to change its speed or flight;
      3. behave in an offensive manner; or
      4. be guilty of misconduct not otherwise covered by the Laws of badminton.
    8. The umpire shall administer any breach of Law 16.4, 16.5 or 16.7 by:
      1. issuing a warning to the offending side;
      2. faulting the offending side, if previously warned; or
      3. in cases of flagrant offence or persistent offences, faulting the offending side and reporting the offending side immediately to the Referee, who shall have power to disqualify the offending side from the match.
    1. The Referee is in overall charge of the tournament or event of which a match forms part.
    2. The umpire, where appointed, is in charge of the match, the court and its immediate surrounds. The umpire shall report to the Referee.
    3. The service judge shall call service faults made by the server should they occur (Law 9).
    4. A line judge shall indicate whether a shuttle is 'in' or out' on the line(s) assigned.
    5. An official's decision is final on all points of fact for which that official is responsible.
    6. An umpire shall:
      1. uphold and enforce the Laws of badminton and, especially, call a 'fault' or 'let' should either occur;
      2. give a decision on any appeal regarding a point of dispute, if made before the next service is delivered;
      3. ensure players and spectators are kept informed of the progress of the match;
      4. appoint or remove line judges or a service judge in consultation with the Referee;
      5. where another court official is not appointed, arrange for that official's duties to be carried out;
      6. where an appointed official is unsighted, carry out the official's duties or play a 'let';
      7. record and report to the Referee all matters in relation to Law 16; and
      8. take to the Referee all unsatisfied appeals on questions of law only. (Such appeals must be made before the next service is delivered or, if at the end of the game, before the side that appeals has left the court).

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