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Explaining the rules and shots in the game of badminton

Ashwini Ponnappa here serving from the left sidecourt
Modified 05 Aug 2016, 20:55 IST

The exact origin of the sport of badminton remains unclear, but it is believed that it was first introduced by the British in the mid-19th century. The game was initially known as Poona, due to its big popularity in the Indian city and over the years has found supporters for it all around the globe.

Here’s a brief explanation about the rules of the sport:


Before the start of the match, when the scoreboard reads 0-0 as well as when the server’s points are even, the server will serve from the right service court. When the server’s score is odd, he/she will serve from the left service court. 

If the server wins the point, then the server serves from the alternate court and if the receiver does, then he/she serves from his/her appropriate service court, the area of the serve dependent on whether his/her score is even or odd.

Scoring System

The scoring system in badminton is quite simple. A routine badminton match comprises of 21 points and can go as far as 3 games. Usually, the player who reaches the 21 mark first is declared the winner.

However, if both players are involved in a deadlock, with the score tied at 20-20, then the player that first attains a two-point lead is adjudged the winner of the contest. If the game gets to a stage where both players are tied at 29 points apiece, then the 1st player to get to 30 will be declared the winner.

A mid-game interval arrives when one of the players is the first to reach the 11 point mark in the game. While in the opening two games, there is no change of ends at that stage of the game, however, if the match does go to the third and final game, then players switch sides at the interval mark.



In the case of doubles, only one of the two players is the server.  At the beginning of the game, the server serves from the rightside of the court and does so each time the score is even. When the score is odd, he/she serves from the left side of the court.

If the server wins the point, then he/she serves from the alternate side of the court. 


A let in badminton is a call that halts play. This is called in cases such as when the shuttle is suspended on top of the net, it passes the net and gets caught on the other side, obstructs an opponent’s stroke etc.

Challenges offered

Two challenges are offered to badminton players per match.


The most basic shot that is taught to every budding shuttler is the defensive lob, which is the ‘get out of trouble’ shot. There are two kinds of lob shots

1.Overhead Defensive Clear

Saina Nehwal playing the overhead defensive shot

As the image shows, the player in the case of an overhead defensive stroke where the shuttler would go up in the air before taking a downward descent and eventually landing on the far end of the opponent's court.

2.The Underarm defensive stroke

In the Underarm defensive stroke, the shuttle goes from bottom-to-top and ends at the far end of the court. The stark difference between the two shots is that while the overhead one is played from the edge of the court, the underarm is played from the near the net.

2.The Drop shot

Another essential shot in the game, the drop shot is one where the shuttle is connected from the deep end of the court and as compared to the defensive strokes, has a much a lower trajectory as compared to the defensive stroke.

The drop shot helps in maintaining the pace of the game while the defensive strokes help in reducing the pace.

3.The Smash

Saina playing the smash

A shot that involves great risk, the smash can cause a player to lose his/her balance and therefore, is used only in instances when the player is in the need to finish a rally and win a point or ensure that the opponent, if he/she does so, gives back a weak return to the hit.

The smash is essentially a shot used to catch the opponent off guard  and it is required for the shuttler before playing the smash to keep a sound body balance to execute it correctly.

4.The Jump Smash

Lee Chong Wei playing the jump smash

The Jump Smash is another form of smash when the player leaps up into the air and fires the shuttle down the line. The Jump Smash is considered the most powerful offensive shot in badminton and is among the hardest shots to execute in the game. Like in the normal smash, the proper body balance is important for the execution of the jump smash as well.

5.The Net shot

Saina playing the net shot 

One of the important shots in the game, the Net shot is generally used to clinch rallies and if executed well, can force the opponent to go for the high lift, which would then allow the other player to go for the winning smash.

The net shot can sometimes itself be a shot that could clinch a point if it is delivered with accuracy from close to the net of the player who plays it to the one who is about to receive it.

6.The Net Kill 

To put it the simplest of words the net kill helps in the completion of a rally point when the opponent returns the initial net shot in a poor manner.

7.The Defensive Net lift

Attempting the defensive Net Kill

The defensive net lift is often used to counter an opponent, who is playing very well at the net. The defensive net kill can be a very effective shot when one needs to find a way to negate the net kill.

8.The Drive

The Drive

A shot aimed straight at the opponent’s body, the drive, like the smash, provides the opponent with very little time to react and return the shuttle back in order to continue the point.

Published 31 Jul 2016, 11:08 IST
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