Badminton Rules | Recreational Services
The University of Iowa

Badminton Rules

 Rule 1: Facility | Rule 2: Player Eligibility | Rule 3: Format | Rule 4: Toss |
Rule 5: Scoring System | Rule 6: Doubles Play | Rule 7: Faults | Rule 8: General Rules 

Recent rule changes appear in italicized font.

Rule 1: Facility

  1. All matches will be played on the Main Deck of the Field House. Alcohol and tobacco are not permitted inside the facility.

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Rule 2: Player Eligibility

  1. All Intramural Sports eligibility rules apply. Please check the Intramural Sports Rules and Regulations carefully.

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Rule 3: Format

  1. Badminton uses a “play-by” tournament format, meaning teams will be paired with an opposing team for first round matches. Teams will have one week to play their matches before advancing to the next round of the tournament. The bracket will be updated the day following the deadline for each round. It is the responsibility of each team advancing in the tournament to set-up the date and time for the next round to be played. Contact information for your next opponent will be provided through to facilitate communication for future matches.
  2. Each team will be guaranteed at least two scheduled matches. Only those that lose their first-round matches will be placed in a separate consolation bracket. All other participants will continue in the championship bracket.
  3. All teams are responsible for reporting the results of each match to Mig Torres upon completion. Make sure that the winning team's name, losing team's name, and the scores are all listed in the email. The results must be submitted no later than 11:59 PM on the day of the deadline. All match results will be posted on

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Rule 4: Toss

  1. Before commencing play, the opposing sides shall toss a coin and the side winning the toss shall have the option of:
    • serving first,
    • not serving first, or
    • choosing ends
  2. The side losing the toss shall then have the choice of any alternative remaining. Ends are changed after games one and two. If a third game is necessary, ends are changed during the game after one side has scored 11 points. 

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Rule 5: Scoring System

  1. A match consists of best-of-three games to 21 points.
  2. At 20 all, the side which gains a two-point lead first wins the game.
  3. At 29 all, the side scoring the 30th point wins that game.
  4. The side winning a game serves first in the next game.
  5. Every time there is a serve, there will be a point scored, unless that point is replayed.
  6. A two-minute break between each game is allowed.
  7. When the leading score reaches 11 points, players may take a 60-second break if needed. 

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Rule 6: Doubles Play

  1. In the traditional scoring system, each side serves except at the start of the game. In the Rally Point Scoring system, a side only has one serve.
  2. At the beginning of the game and when the score is even, the server serves from the right service court. When it is odd, the server serves from the left court.
  3. The server must hit the shuttle into the opposite service court. In doubles this extends to the outside rectangular space. 
  4. Once the shuttle is hit after a serve it may be returned into any portion of the other end of the court marked by the outside edges of the boundary lines. 
  5. If the serving side wins a rally, the serving side scores a point and the same server serves again from the alternate service court.
  6. If the receiving side wins a rally, the receiving side scores a point. The receiving side becomes the new serving side.
  7. The players do not change their respective service courts until they win a point when their side is serving.
  8. If players commit an error in the service court, the error is corrected when the mistake is discovered.
  9. After the serve is played by the receiving team, either partner may make a play on the shuttlecock during consecutive returns. 

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Rule 7: Faults

  1. If in serving, the shuttlecock is struck above the server’s waist.
  2. If at the serve, the shuttlecock falls into the wrong receiving court.
  3. If the server’s and receiver’s feet are not within the boundaries of their serving court and receiving court, respectively.
  4. If the partner of the receiver takes the serve.
  5. If a player touches the net with his/her racquet, person, or clothes.
  6. If the shuttlecock is struck in return before it has crossed the net to his/her side. (The follow-through may break the plane of the net.)

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Rule 8: General Rules

  1. You should not serve until the opponent is ready, but if he/she attempts to return the serve, he/she is considered ready and play continues.
  2. If in serving, you miss the shuttlecock, you may serve again providing your racquet did not make any contact during the attempt.
  3. Birdies that hit the net as they cross during play are good and should be played.
  4. If, in serving, the shuttle touches the net, it is a “let” provided the service is otherwise good and the birdie is served again.
  5. Birdies that fall on the line are considered good.

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