Termed as the fastest racket sport, a player in a competitive badminton match is believed to cover around 4 miles on court. It made an Olympic debut in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. If you’re a young badminton enthusiast, or a beginner who would like to try your hand at the game, I’m sure you would be interested in acquainting yourself with some basic ‘laws’ of playing this game.
Badminton has five disciplines, namely, men’s singles, ladies’ singles, men’s doubles, ladies’ doubles and the mixed doubles, just like table tennis and lawn tennis. In case of singles, flexibility is the key, whereas in doubles, teamwork is the success formula. Let us take a look at some vital rules and regulations of the game.
➺ The prime objective of badminton is to strike the shuttlecock with the racket in such a way that the shuttlecock does not hit the net and falls back on the side of the server.
➺ The shuttlecock must cross over to the opponent’s side.
➺ At the same time, the shuttlecock should not land outside the lines which limit the court boundaries.
➺ A player or a team winning the first two sets wins the match.
➺ Since 2006, the game consists of three sets of 21 points each (the score can go above 21 points to a maximum of 30 points), wherein a player or a team has to win two sets to win the match.
Somebody has to start the play by striking the shuttlecock, and the shuttle being hit for the first time in the rally is called a serve.
➺ A toss is used to determine as to which player or team will serve. The winner of the toss has the right to decide whether or not to serve, and also choose the side of the court to start the play.
➺ The first serve of each set is to be played from the right half of the court to the diagonally opposite half of the receiver.
➺ The foot of neither the serving player nor the receiving player must go off the surface of the court until the service is complete.
➺ The service starts from the right side of the court if the serving side’s score is an even number. In this case the court is called an even service court. Likewise, there exists an odd service court for serving, on the left side when the score is odd.
➺ Same is the case in doubles, but if the serving team wins a point the same person of the serving team continues to serve and does not rotate the serve to the partner.
➺ The server and the receiver will stand simultaneously in their respective even service courts or odd service courts for service.
➺ Only a serving side can change service courts, provided it wins a point.
➺ Even though the receiving side gets the opportunity to serve on winning a point, it cannot change service courts and the serve depends on the scoreline.
➺ If the scoreline is an even number then the player in the even service court serves and vice versa.
➺ While serving, the server must place the shuttlecock below the waist.
➺ The side winning a set or a game serves first in the next game.
A score or a scoreline is of utmost importance, as it is the match decider. A match comprises the best of three sets. The side winning 21 points or 30 points, as the case may be, wins the set.
➺ The beginner of the rally, known as the server, starts with a scoreline of 0-0, also known as ‘love-all.’
➺ Every side gets one point each on winning a rally.
➺ When the receiving side makes a fault, the serving side not only gets a point but also continues to serve with the scoreline of 1-0.
➺ When the receiving side wins a rally, it earns a point and becomes the new serving side.
➺ If the scoreline is 4-1 in favor of the server, and the server loses the rally, the receiver earns a point.
➺The scoreline then becomes 4-2, with the receiver getting to serve.
➺ The receiver becomes the new server but the scoreline is always referred to as 4-2 in favor of the leading side.
➺ When each side has the same score like 7 points each or 12 points each, then it is termed as ‘7-all’ and ’12-all’ respectively.
➺ A set consists of 21 points and the player or team scoring 21 points first, wins the set.
➺ However, if both sides have an equal score of 20 each i.e. 20-20, a tie breaker is used to determine the winner.
➺ In the tie breaker, the side scoring 2 points more than the opponent wins the set. This means a difference of 2 points; a scoreline of 22-20 or 23-21, or 27-25 to win the set.
➺ When the scoreline is 29-29, then the side securing the immediate point wins the set with a score of 30-29. In this case the difference of two points is not considered for winning a set.
➺ A side has to win two sets in order to win the match.
➺ A third set is played only when each side has won a set each, as a match is the best of three sets.
➺ It is in the third set, also known as the deciding set, that the player or team on reaching 11 points changes sides.
➺ There exists a 60-second break when one team reaches 11 points and a 2-minute break after each set.
In order to end a rally and gain a point, one side ought to make an error commonly termed as a fault.
➺ A player touching the net or the poles with the racket, in person or with a part of his clothing.
➺ The player storming into the opponent’s side of the court.
➺ The player invading into the opponent’s side under the net such that the opponent is obstructed and disturbed.
➺ The receiver’s partner hitting the shuttle (in case of doubles).
➺ The shuttle passing through or under the net.
➺ Settling of the shuttle outside the lines that demarcate the court boundaries.
➺ The shuttle being hit twice by the player or being hit by the opponent and the opponent’s partner.
➺ A wrong serve, as there exists no two chances to serve unlike lawn tennis.
➺ The shuttle hitting the ceiling or the sidewalls.
➺ Drop: It is a gentle shot placed slowly. It requires utmost precision to win a point on such a shot. It is considered as a shot in disguise as the shuttle, just clears the net.
➺ Smash: As the word suggests, it is a vigorous and commanding shot. It is considered the best shot when hit from above the height of the net.
➺ Flick: The shot, which is tough to play takes the opponent by complete surprise. Wrist rotation is the key for this shot.
➺ Drive: Similar to smash in terms of speed, this shot passes low just over the net. It cuts down horizontally, immediately after crossing the net.
➺ Court: Rectangular in shape and bisected at the center, the court measures 13.4 meters in length and 5.1 meters wide for singles and 6.1 meters wide for doubles.
➺ Net: Acting as a barricade, distinguishing the two sides of the court, the net stands at a height of 1.524 meters in the center and 1.55 meters at the edges.
➺ Racket: There exists no specific rule with regards to the size, type, and make of the racket. Normally the racket weight varies between 80 to 100 grams, and its length is about 680 millimeters.
➺ Side lines and Back lines: The side line and the back line, limit the width and the length of the court respectively, and are not the same for singles and doubles. For singles, the inner side line and the outer back line of the court form the overall boundary, while for doubles, the outer side line and the inner back line constitute the boundary.
➺ Shuttle: Whether made up naturally out of goose feathers or synthetic material, it travels at a great speed and has the flight characteristics.
The overall responsibility, authority, and accountability for International Badminton descends on the Badminton World Federation (BWF), formerly known as International Badminton Federation. Set up in 1934 with 9 founder member countries, the BWF now has more than 150 countries due to the prominence of the sport worldwide. Considered to be a very popular sport, the key to a player’s success would be quick reflexes, precision, agility, and immense stamina.