The absolute basics

The aim of badminton is to hit the shuttle with your racket so that it passes over the net and lands inside your opponent’s half of the court. Whenever you do this, you have won a rally; win enough rallies, and you win the match.

Your opponent has the same goal. He will try to reach the shuttle and send it back into your half of the court. You can also win rallies from your opponent’s mistakes: if he hits the shuttle into or under the net, or out of court, then you win the rally.

If you think your opponent’s shot is going to land out, then you should let it fall to the floor. If you hit the shuttle instead, then the rally continues.

Once the shuttle touches the ground, the rally is over. In this respect, badminton is not like tennis or squash, where the ball can bounce.

You must hit the shuttle once only before it goes over the net (even in doubles). In this respect, badminton is not like volleyball, where multiple players can touch the ball before sending it back over the net.

Badminton is played indoors

Some of you may be familiar with playing badminton on a beach, or in the garden. This is fine when you’re playing it as a casual game, but it doesn’t work when you start to get competitive.

The shuttle is blown off course by even the slightest breath of wind. That’s why competitive badminton is always played indoors.

Setting up a badminton court

Badminton has its own nets and posts; the net is much lower than for volleyball. Sometimes a sports centre will set up the court with a slack volleyball net instead, because the staff don’t know anything about badminton. Ask for proper badminton posts and a badminton net.

If you need to set up the court yourself, then check three things:

  • The net covers the whole width of the court.
  • The net is pulled tight, not slack.
  • The net is in the middle, so that both court halves are the same size.

Often it can be hard to see the badminton court lines, because lines for other sports are also painted on the floor. The badminton court lines should all be in one colour, so try to focus on that.

Singles, doubles, and mixed doubles

You can have either two or four players on a badminton court: one player on each side, or a team of two players on each side. One-against-one is called singles; two-against-two is called doubles.

In doubles, either player can hit the shuttle; you do not have to take it in turns. The only exceptions are the first two shots of the rally; I’ll explain this when we discuss serving.

In total, there are five types of badminton:

  • Men’s singles
  • Women’s singles
  • Men’s doubles
  • Women’s doubles
  • Mixed doubles (each team is a man and a woman)

Men’s doubles and women’s doubles are also called level doubles.

These are the only types of badminton played in serious tournaments. In casual play, however, women sometimes play against men (e.g. two women against two men).

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