A guide to the rules and scoring for badminton at the Summer Olympics

Badminton is likely to be ruled by Asia at the Summer Olympics yet again
Badminton is likely to be ruled by Asia at the Summer Olympics yet again
Srijanee Majumdar

Badminton began its Olympic journey at the Barcelona Games in 1992. It was first played as a demonstration sport in 1972 and later as an exhibition sport at the 1988 Seoul Olympics before making its debut.

Ever since badminton got included in the Olympics, Asian countries like China, Malaysia, South Korea, and Indonesia have continuously tightened their stranglehold on the sport. The Asian dominance on the court has resulted in the most podium finishes for the continent at the mega-quadrennial Games.

Japanese Kento Momota is the world's top-ranked men's singles shuttler
Japanese Kento Momota is the world's top-ranked men's singles shuttler

Rules for badminton

Regarded as the fastest racket sport, badminton is quite an effortless game with a host of plain rules. The only equipment vital for play are a net, shuttlecock, and a racket.

Scoring rules in badminton

The objective of the game is to hit the shuttlecock back and forth across the net without letting it touch the ground within the boundaries.


A game can be held with either two players in singles matches or four players in doubles. A new point is earned each time the shuttlecock is hit over the net and lands in the opponent’s court before they hit back. A point is also scored when the opponent hits the shuttlecock into either the net or outside the boundaries.

Also Read: Explaining the rules and shots in the game of badminton

Each game is played to 21 points, provided that the winner has a two-point lead. If the lead is never reached and the score is tied at 20-20, the first player or team to win two points will bag it. The winner of a match has to triumph in two of the three games played.

How to serve in badminton?

The serve forms the basics of any badminton play. Each game will begin with a toss to determine which player will serve first and which side of the court the opponent would like to play in. Serve is when the shuttlecock is required to be hit at the beginning of each rally.

Players are required to serve diagonally across the net. According to the rules outlined by the Badminton World Federation (BWF), a player should always serve from below the waist. An overarm serve will be considered a fault.

The winning player or team always plays the next serve. If the opponent scores a point against the server, there is no second chance given to the latter.

The server will serve from the right service court every time they have an even score. Similarly, the server serves from the left service court when the score is odd.

Also Read: Badminton Court Specifications: All you need to know about a Badminton Court

Badminton Court Dimensions

A badminton doubles match in progress
A badminton doubles match in progress

Badminton courts are rectangular in size and are usually divided in half by a net in the center.

All official games should be played indoors following proper court dimensions.

A badminton court is about 13.4m long and 5.128m wide for singles matches. In doubles, the court is 6.1m wide with the same length as singles. The net is placed through the middle of the court and is set at 1.55m.

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Badminton at the Olympics


Asia has been able to translate the youthful love for badminton into a talented pool of athletes who compete internationally at the grandest level.

As for the Asian dominance in the sport, few expect that to change at this year's Olympics, where China, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea, and India will all be vying for the top honors.

P V Sindhu is the biggest Olympic medal hope for India
P V Sindhu is the biggest Olympic medal hope for India

Ever since it grew into a full medal sport in 1992, only six medals out of 44 in singles have been won by non-Asian players. China leads the tally with 41 Olympic medals across all categories. Countries like Indonesia and South Korea have also been consistently in the mix, medalling at every Olympics.

India and Japan are rising badminton powerhouses and are tipped by many experts to be the favorites for the Tokyo gold. It thus looks certain that Asia will once again dominate one of its favorite sports in the upcoming Olympics.

(With inputs from the official Olympic website)

Also Read: PV Sindhu pushing herself to win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics 2021

Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee


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