Badminton Life

Basic Badminton Rules

Learn the Basic Badminton Rules and you can start to enjoy the game.

Of course if you intend to play competitively, it's important that you know all of the badminton rules. For social and leisure purposes, I think this will do.


Before the 2006 Thomas/ Uber Cup, the official scoring format was the 15 points format. The IBF (International Badminton Federation) then tested a new scoring format which is the 21 points rally format in the 2006 Thomas/Uber Cup. This 21 points rally format has since become the official one replacing the 15 points format.

15 Points Format

There are a lot of people who still prefer the old format. So I have listed down the basic badminton rules for this format here if you have this preference.

- To win a match, you have to win 2 out of 3 games.

- To win a game, you have to score 15 points for men and 11 points for women.

- If the score becomes 14-all (10-all in women's singles), the side which first scored 14 (10) shall exercise the choice to continue the game to 15 (11) points or to 'set' the game to 17 (13) points.

- If you win a rally in which your opposition served, you win back the service rights.

- Only the serving side can add a point to its score.

- You score a point when your opponent could not return the shuttle or the shuttle he/she returns fall out of bounds.

- In singles, you will serve on the right service court when your score is an even number while you will serve on the left service court when your score is an odd number.

- In doubles, if you serve and receive first on the right service court during a match, you will continue to serve there when the score of your side in an even number. Reverse pattern for your partner.

For the full version, please check out this page.

21 points Format

Currently, this is the official format used by the IBF. Here are the basic badminton rules for this format.

- To win a match, you have to win 2 out of 3 games.

- To win a game, you have to score 21 points.

- If a score becomes 20-20, the side which scores 2 consecutive points shall win that game.

- If the score becomes 29-29, the side that scores the 30th point shall win that game.

- There are no "service over", meaning you can score a point no matter who serves.

- One service only for doubles.

- Other rules shall remain the same.

For a more detailed explanation, please visit this page.

So what is the difference between these two formats you may ask? For one, the old format requires more time to finish a match as there are 'service overs'. The level of fitness and stamina is really important. It is not unusual to see a match last for 2 hours.

The new format however requires less time to finish a match as it is a rally point system. It is now quite common to see matches finished just below an hour. Avoiding making unforced errors is crucial here because every rally counts.

Decide for yourself on which format you want to use. I would suggest that you familiarize yourself with the new format in case you become more serious with this game. Understand the basic badminton rules already? Proceed to find out more on badminton basic skills then...

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