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How to Play Badminton

For anyone who's ever wondered why people are swatting an odd-looking object back and forth across a net, here's the lowdown.


  • Step 1: Set up a court by establishing boundaries of 44 feet long by 17 feet wide for a singles game and 44 feet by 20 feet for a doubles game. Place a net in the middle, with the top 5 feet off the ground.
  • Step 2: Know the object of the game, which is similar to tennis: Opposing players with rackets hit the shuttlecock back and forth over a net trying not to let it hit the ground.
  • TIP: Shuttlecocks, which are also called shuttles or birdies, come in two types: Cork-based with feathers, and plastic with a rubber base.
  • Step 3: Know what constitutes a fault, or an error. A fault is made when the shuttlecock lands outside the boundary lines, does not clear the net, hits the ground before being returned, or makes contact with a player's body or clothing.
  • Step 4: Start with a coin toss; the winner chooses a side of the court and decides if they want to serve first or not.
  • Step 5: The game begins with the player serving underhanded from the back of the court on their right side diagonally across the court to the other team. If the shuttlecock doesn't clear the net or lands outside the service area, the other team scores a point and gains serve. Serve from the right when your score is even, left when it's odd.
  • TIP: Players only get one chance to serve, unless they miss the birdie completely, or the birdie touches the net on its way across – which is called a let.
  • Step 6: Whoever wins each rally wins the point, and whoever gets to 21 points wins a game. If players are tied at 20, the team with the first two-point lead wins. If the scores go to 29 without anyone attaining the two-point lead, the first team to reach 30 wins. The match is won by the best two out of three games played.
  • FACT: Badminton is the world's fastest-paced racket sport, with the shuttlecock flying across the net at speeds of almost 200 miles per hour.

You Will Need

  • Two or four players
  • A badminton court
  • A net
  • A shuttlecock
  • Badminton rackets

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