Basic Rules of Badminton
Learn How to Play Badminton in Minutes!

badminton rules

Basic rules of badminton to help you and your kids enjoy a fun, simple game that's a classic for players of all ages.

Learn how to play badminton in minutes!

Basic Rules of Badminton

Badminton is a racket game played by 2 people (singles), but it can also be played by 4 people (doubles). The object is to hit a birdie over the net and into the opponent's court in such a way that it can't be returned. 

Basic Rules of Badminton
Playing Area

The standard badminton court dimensions are a rectangle 20' wide and 44' long. A 2½'-high net is stretched across the playing area at half-court.

The top of the net measures 5' 1" from the floor.

Competitive badminton is best played on an indoor court where the wind can't affect the flight of the birdie. However, for strictly recreational purposes, it's a very popular backyard game that can be played outdoors just fine.

rules of badmintonBadminton court diagram

Basic Rules of Badminton

badminton racket

Badminton racket

badminton shuttlecock

Badminton shuttlecock (birdie)

badminton net

Badminton net

Basic Rules of Badminton

A badminton game is played to 15 or 21 points. Players decide before the game begins what they will play to.

The first player to reach 15 or 21 is the winner.

A match usually consists of the best of 3 games.

Starting Play

badminton games

Players toss a coin to see who will serve first. The winner of the toss is the first server. The server begins the game by hitting the birdie over the net to the receiver.

A birdie landing on a line is considered inbounds.

If a birdie touches the net during the regular course of play (aside from the serve) and passes over it properly, it's considered a good hit and is still in play.

If a player has a chance of striking the birdie with a downward motion near the net, his opponent can't put up his racket to block it or interfere in any way.

Basic Rules of Badminton

badminton serve

The server starts in his right hand service court and serves from the right side when his score is "0" or when he has scored an even number of points. The serve is delivered from the left-hand service court when the server has scored an odd number of points.

Both players change service courts after each point has been scored.

The server drops the birdie so that his racket strikes it in an underhand position. Both of the server's feet must be touching the ground in the appropriate service court. The serve should land in the court diagonally opposite the server on the opponent's side of the court. If the server misses the birdie, it is not a fault.

Basic Rules of Badminton

Only the serving side can win a point.

badminton competition

A player is "in" while serving and "out" while receiving. When the server during the play causes the "out" player to commit a fault, the server wins a point.

When the receiver ("out" player) during a play forces the "in" player to commit a fault the "in" player loses the serve and the "out" player then becomes the server.

Basic Rules of Badminton

A fault is an infringement that ends a rally. If the server commits a fault, the service goes to his opponent. If the receiver commits a fault, the server wins a point.

Service Faults - It's a service fault if, on the serve:

  • the server hits the birdie above his waist.
  • the racket head is not completely below the level of the hand holding the racket.
  • the server's feet are not in the correct service court (they can't touch the lines).
  • both the server's feet are not touching the ground.
  • the server attempts to fake the serve.
  • the receiver isn't standing in the correct service court.
  • the receiver moves before the birdie is hit.
  • the birdie lands outside the correct service court. It should land in the court diagonally opposite to the server.

General Faults - It's a fault if:

  • the birdie lands outside the court.
  • the birdie doesn't make it over the net.
  • a player is hit by the birdie.
  • a player hits the birdie twice on a shot.
  • the birdie is hit before it crosses the net.
  • a player touches the net while the birdie is in play.
  • the birdie is caught on the racket head and slung instead of hit.
  • a player obstructs his opponent.

Basic Rules of Badminton

A let causes a play to be redone. It occurs when:

  • the birdie touches the net and goes over into the proper service court.
  • the server serves from the wrong court.
  • the receiver hits the serve while standing in the wrong court.
  • opponents commit faults at the same time.
  • the birdie is caught in the net after passing over it.


Sometimes it's difficult for little kids to hit the small birdie with the little head that a badminton racket has.

Depending on the number of players, skill level, available equipment, or the size of your playing area, you can modify the basic badminton rules to fit your needs.

Here are some modifications you can make that might help the game be more fun for everyone:

  • Lower the net
  • Don't use a net at all
  • Allow players more than one hit to get the birdie over the net

Jumbo size rackets

Two-in-One Game Set

Rackets w/short handles

Smash-Minton Set

Jumbo size birdies

US Games Big E Birdies

Play in the dark

See-in-the-dark birdies

Dark Night LED Badminton Shuttlecock Birdies

Play indoors



Speedminton Fun Set

Cross between badminton, tennis & racquetball

Target games

hula hoops

Arrange hula hoops or other targets inside the court area and earn points by hitting the birdie so it lands in the target areas

These are just a few ways you can change the basic badminton rules to fit your needs. You can probably think of others.

Follow the USA Badminton Team and check out other resources to learn more about this exciting game!

See more fun kids sports activities that include racket games...

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