Single Badminton Rules


A singles match in badminton features one player on each side of the net. You'll get more of a cardiovascular workout in a singles game than in a game of doubles, because you are responsible for the entire side of your court. The Badminton World Federation, based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, writes and regularly updates the formal Laws of Badminton, which govern all official international competitions.


A badminton match consists of a best two-out-of-three game series. The BWF requires players to win a game by a margin of two points. Play each game to 21 points unless, without a two-point margin, the score reaches 29-all. At 29-all you only need a one-point margin, meaning the first player to reach 30 points is the winner.


The service line for a singles game is the back line of the court. The serve -- not to be executed until both players indicate they are ready -- must be underhanded and completed behind the service line. In singles, a player serves from the right service court diagonally over the net to his opponent’s right service court when the server has a score of zero or an even number. When the server has scored an odd number of points, she serves from her left service court into her opponent’s left service court.


During a rally, a player can hit the shuttle from any position on his side of the net. The singles sidelines indicate your left and right boundary. The singles lines are 18 inches closer to the middle of the court than the doubles lines. A rally ends when the shuttle touches the playing surface in bounds or a fault is committed. In between games and after the first player scores 11 points in the third game, change ends with your opponent.


When the server wins the rally, he scores a point, retains the serve and moves to the alternate service court to serve again. When the receiver wins the rally, she earns the serve, but may or may not gain a point depending on the set of rules in use. In official BWF play, the receiver scores points. However, in classic-rules badminton, used at some college recreational programs, only the server can earn points.


In official BWF games, faults result in a point for your opponent and you must surrender the serve. Swinging at, but missing, the shuttle on the serve is a fault; as is hitting the shuttle so it passes underneath, rather than over, the net. You can also receive a fault when you hit the shuttle out of bounds or for touching the shuttle with your body or clothing.