Game Rules and Regulations

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Every time you win a rally, you get a point. Starting from zero, the first person to reach 21 points wins the game. In club badminton, this is usually where you stop and choose players for the next game.

In standard league or tournament play, however, what really matters is the match. A match is the best of three games: you win the match by winning two games. So a match could last either two or three games.

Whenever you win a rally, you also get the next serve. So if your opponent was serving in the last rally, the serve passes to you; if you were serving, you keep on serving.

To win, you need a two-point lead

You have to win the game by at least two points. If the score reaches 20–20, then 21 points are no longer enough to win the game. You need to win two clear points: two points in a row, one after the other.

For example, 22–20 would be a winning score, as would 25–23. But 21–20 would not be enough, and neither would 24–23.

If you reach 30–29, however, you’ve won the game. 30 points is the upper limit. This rule is intended to prevent games dragging on too long, especially at the top level of play, where excessively long games put athletes at risk of injury.

Always say the server’s score first

It’s a good habit to say the score to your opponent before starting each rally. It’s surprisingly easy to lose track of the score, and saying it between rallies helps prevent disputes.

When you’re saying the score, always say the server’s score first. So if you are serving and have 10 points to your opponent’s 15 points, then the score is 10–15 (not 15–10).