What's the story?
The Badminton World Federation has decided to trial a new kind of service rule at the 2018 All England Open Championships. This new rule states, "the whole of the shuttle should be below 1.15m from the surface of the court at the instant of being hit by the server's racket."
The previous rule, on the other hand, states that the shuttle must be below one's waist when it is hit. To be precise, the maximum height is with the lowest part of one's ribcage.
In case you didn't know
The move was inspired by the need to overcome questionable decisions made by service judges. They have come under heavy fire by shuttlers and coaches worldwide for a number of controversial decisions.
The heart of the matter
The BWF will begin trialling this new rule in tournaments like the BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals in Bangkok and the 2018 BWF World Championships in Nanjing. The decision was taken after the BWF Council convened in Jamaica. However, the BWF World Junior Championships is said to be one of the exceptions to this ruling for now.
BWF President Poul-Erik Hoyer announced the Council's willingness to put this ruling into practice. He said that the decision came after numerous investigations and deliberations.The aim was to improve the application of service laws at BWF tournaments. Hoyer also hoped that the rule will yield positive feedback from the members.
The BWF also announced that they will host a training workshop for BWF Umpire Assessors in Kuala Lumpur in January. The same BWF Umpire Assessors will hold additional training courses at the continental team championships in the following month. The umpires' training will include correct implementation of measuring devices that will determine service height.
The change has been incoming for a while and is likely to affect the taller players in particular. In a video from earlier this year, Danish stars Viktor Axelsen and Mads Kolding criticized the ruling, stating that it the change is really hard to understand.
It remains to be seen how drastic a change it turns out to be and depending on the feedback from the players and coaches, the BWF will take a decision on the matter.
Judging by all the mishaps in terms of service ruling, the badminton world will certainly be glad to see some form of clarification on the rules. However, it has its fair share of criticism as well and one hopes the final decision is beneficial for the sport as a whole.