Are you curious about the ins and outs of badminton serving rules? Mastering them can be challenging, especially if you’re a beginner or have only ever played other racket sports.

Luckily, we’ve put together a simple badminton service rules guide to help you navigate the game.

From determining who serves first to understanding the rules around the swing itself, learn everything you need to know about serving in badminton singles and doubles below.

Badminton Serving Rules: The Basics

Before we dive in, here’s a quick rundown on how to decide who serves first in every match, rally, and game:

  • To start a match, you can use a coin toss to determine which team serves first.
  • During a game, the side that scores a point will serve in the next rally.
  • When a game ends, the winning team will get the next serve.

The Serve Itself

So, where do you serve from, where do you serve to, and how should you stand during service? To answer these questions, here are the main rules to remember:

Note: You won’t memorize all of these at first, and that’s okay. The more you play, the more they’ll become second nature (and you can always refer back to this page as needed.)

  • The server should only hit the shuttle once the receiver is ready. (If the receiver attempts to hit the shuttle, that counts as being ready.)
  • Neither side should cause an undue delay in service. Once the server swings his or her racket backward, everyone should stay ready for action, being sure to avoid any distractions or mistakes that may halt the game. 
  • The server should hit the shuttle into the service court diagonally across from them.
  • When the score is 0-0, you’ll serve from the right service court. 
  • Once the game gets rolling, the side you serve from will depend on your team’s score. Serve from the left when your score is odd, and the right when it’s even.
  • As a server or receiver, at least part of both your feet should stay planted on the ground during service. Your feet should also be stationary until the bird is in play.
  • The server and receiver may only touch boundary lines after the rally starts. In other words, be sure to avoid standing or stepping on the lines while you prepare for the serve.

Proper Swing Technique Rules

The rules for the swing of your serve are relatively simple. Just be sure that your racket points downward during your swing, and hit the birdie at below waist height (underneath your bottom rib). 

Once you’re ready to serve, the rules state that you should swing in a single, fluid, forward motion until you hit the shuttle. (You can use one backswing if you’d like — you’re just not allowed to rock your racket back and forth before making contact.)

What Changes in Badminton Doubles Serving?

When it comes to badminton singles vs. doubles, serving is nearly the same — aside from the fact that the service boxes will be shorter and wider, and you’ll have to know when to rotate service courts with your partner. 

To keep things simple, only swap sides with your partner when both of these things happen:

  • It’s your team’s serve
  • Your team wins the rally

When these conditions are met, the original server — whether that’s you or your teammate — will switch sides and continue to serve. This goes until your team loses a point, at which point the other team gets the serve. 

The Takeaway on Badminton Serving Rules

When you’re just starting in the world of badminton, serving can feel daunting — but it doesn’t have to be. By practicing the rules above, you can avoid faults, score points, and serve with confidence in every match.

For more info on the official ways to play badminton, check out our complete rules guide today. Or, join the YouTube community for badminton tutorials, strategies, and more to help you level up your game.

Justin Ma

I am passionate about helping people find joy in playing badminton, while also showing them how competitive the sport can be.

Justin Ma

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