How to Score a Badminton Match?

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A badminton player serving a feathered shuttle over the net to opponents

Badminton scoring works on a point-per-rally system, meaning that someone wins a point every time a rally is played. So keeping score is actually quite simple. But, where do you serve from, where do you receive from and what’s the deal in doubles? We will answer all of this and more in this article.

Quick Overview

  • Each rally begins by one team serving diagonally cross court, over the net, from one service box to the other service box. 

  • The first serve is taken from the right hand side box (called the right service box). 

  • A point is scored on every serve and awarded to whichever side wins the rally. 

  • The winning side gets the next serve.

A typical game lasts for 21 points but we will cover the specifics of scoring later. When played competitively, badminton matches are typically best-of-three games with the first side to reach 21 points winning the game.

Deciding who serves first

At elite level, the first serve is often determined by a coin flip. At an amateur level, players usually throw the shuttle up in the air, let it land, and whichever side the shuttle points to is the side that serves first.

Starting positions

The player serving first stands in the right hand side box, called the right service box and serves cross court over the net, into the opponent’s right service box.

Scoring and Serving

The rally then commences and a point is awarded to whichever player wins the rally. A point is scored on every serve and the winner also gets the next serve too. The badminton game then progresses like this with the winner of the previous rally serving to begin the next rally. Each player will retain serve for as long as they keep winning points. It is easy to remember which box to serve from (providing you can remember the score!). Serving on an even point is done from the right hand service box and serving on an odd point is done from the left hand service box.

Example: The score is 13 – 15 to Player B. Player A has just won the point, so Player A servers from the left hand service box to Player B’s left hand service box as 13 is an odd number.

Is Doubles different?

This serving pattern is still the same for when playing doubles. Each player starts in their own service box and will swap service boxes with their partner when they win a point. When the score is even, whichever player is in the right service box when they win the rally, serves. When the score is odd, whichever player is in the left service box serves. If you win the rally when you have served, the player that has served continues to serve (switching boxes for each serve) until they lose the point. Because a point is won every rally, the serve will cycle through all the players when each team wins a rally (if you never lose a rally, the server will never change!).

Example: The score is 0 – 0 Team A has won the serve. Player 1A stands in the right hand service box and serves over the net, cross court to Player 1B, also in the right hand service box. Team A wins the rally making the score 1 – 0. Player 1A continues to serve but now moves into the left hand service box as their score is now odd. The next rally is won by Team B making the score 1 – 1. Team B now gets the serve. As they are on an odd number, Player 2B serves from the left hand service box over the net, cross court to Player 1A, who is now in the left hand service box.

Winning the Match

As we have already said, the match ends when one player gets to 21. However, this does not happen if the score is 20-20. If both sides get to 20, the winning team must get two clear points to win the game. To stop a badminton game going on forever, if the score reaches 29-29, the first to get their 30th point wins.

Winning the Match

As we have already said, the match ends when one player gets to 21. However, this does not happen if the score is 20-20. If both sides get to 20, the winning team must get two clear points to win the game. To stop a badminton game going on forever, if the score reaches 29-29, the first to get their 30th point wins.

Extra Tips For Scoring

Always say the server’s score first

To make sure that you always remember the score, a good tip is to say the score out loud (so that you can’t get accused of cheating) before each serve.

What about the receiver?

Though we have mentioned where the receiver stands (in the service box opposite the server), what about in doubles. Where you stand in doubles is actually determined by where you (or your partner) served last. You stay on the same sides which you had when your side was serving last. This way the opposition alternates who they serve to.

What happens when you serve and win the rally?

When you serve and win the rally, you swap service boxes and continue to serve! Simple. If you are playing doubles your partner also swaps sides with you to the other service box. Though they aren’t required to stand in it. 

What happens when you serve and the opponent wins the rally?

If you serve and lose the rally, your opponent then gets to serve. They serve from the service box that corresponds to the score. Even number, right hand box. Odd number, left hand box.

Do I get a second Serve?

No, if you serve into the net, serve short or lose the rally you don’t get a second serve. The serve passes straight to the opponent.

Conclusion

Here we have laid out everything you need to know about how to score a badminton match. Before you know it, scoring will become second nature to you and where you stand, serve from and receive from will become second nature to you. The only thing you need to do now it get out and play some badminton!

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