Badminton scoring, rules and officials


In recent years, badminton has changed how players can score a point. In 2006, the rules were changed to a rally point system and this now allows both players to score a point during a rally, regardless of who served.

In competitive adult matches, all games are played to a best of three games. To win a game, a player must reach 21 points. However, if the game is tied at 20-20 (or 20-all) then you are required to win by two clear points. Unlike most sports, however, if the score becomes 29-29 (or 29-all), the player or team to score the 30th point will win the game.


  • A match consists of the best of three games of 21 points.
  • The player/pair winning a rally adds a point to its score.
  • At 20-all, the player/pair which first gains a 2-point lead wins that game.
  • At 29-all, the side scoring the 30th point wins that game.
  • The player/pair winning a game serves first in the next game.
  • A badminton match can be played by two opposing players (singles) or four opposing players (doubles).
  • A competitive match must be played indoors utilising the official court dimensions.
  • A point is scored when the shuttlecock lands inside the opponent's court or if a returned shuttlecock hits the net or lands outside of the court the player will lose the point.
  • At the start of the rally, the server and receiver stand in diagonally opposite service courts.
  • A legal serve must be hit diagonally over the net and across the court.
  • A badminton serve must be hit underarm and below the server's waist height with the racquet shaft pointing downwards, the shuttlecock is not allowed to bounce. After a point is won, the players will move to the opposite serving stations for the next point.
  • The rules do not allow second serves.
  • During a point a player can return the shuttlecock from inside and outside of the court.
  • A player is not able to touch the net with any part of their body or racket.
  • A player must not deliberately distract their opponent.
  • A player is not able to hit the shuttlecock twice.
  • A 'let' may be called by the referee if an unforeseen or accidental issue arises.
  • A game must include two rest periods. These are a 90-second rest after the first game and a 5-minute rest after the second game.


The referee is in overall charge of a badminton tournament or championship(s) of which a match forms part, to uphold the Laws of Badminton and Competition Regulations in the BWF Statutes.

Individual singles matches require a total of six officials:

  • an umpire who is in charge of the match, the court and its immediate surroundings
  • four line judges (two for each side of the court positioned at the baseline) who indicate whether a shuttlecock landed 'in' or 'out' on the line(s) assigned
  • a service judge

Doubles matches require a total of eight officials. This is as above but an additional two line judges are sometimes added (one for each side of the court positioned at the doubles service line).