*note*
All directions for each skill are described for a right-handed player.  A left-handed player should do just the opposite, i.e., if instructed to step with the left foot and make contact with the bird above the right shoulder, the left-handed person should step with the right foot and make contact above the left shoulder.

FOREHAND GRIP

The basic grip for the forehand is a 'shake hands grip'.  The racquet then is gripped with the hand and fingers.  A slight separation of the forefinger (trigger finger) is used for preparation in changing to the backhand grip.

BACKHAND GRIP

The basic grip for the backhand is with the palm of the hand fitting over the side of the racquet.  The fingers and thumb grasp the racquet.  The thumb may be placed against the back of the grip.  This option can help beginning players hit the backhand with a little more strength.

FOOTWORK

Good footwork begins from a basic ready position.  Both feet should be spread about shoulder width apart.  Knees should be bent and your body should face the net.  The racquet should be held in front of the body.  This position will enable you to move in any direction required.  As soon as your opponent hits the bird toward you, you should move to the place on the court where the bird is coming and get ready to return the bird.  For a forehand shot, turn so that your left side faces the net.  Your left foot should step toward the net and your right foot continue the follow thru.  Hitting the bird by moving your feet and body will give you much more power than just using your arm.  It is exactly the same as throwing a baseball.

Sometimes, because of your opponent's skill in making a good shot, you will not have time to do any of this.  The bird will arrive on your side before you have time to get in position.  When this happens, all you can do is to make as good a shot as possible while on the run.

SERVE

The serve begins with an underhand stroke.  The bird must be struck with the head of the racquet below the level of the hand.  The contact point must be below the server's waist.  A high deep serve is recommended for both singles and doubles.  However, a short serve can be effective as an alternative.  Service Rules will be discussed later.

CLEAR

The trajectory of the forehand and backhand clear is high and deep landing close to the baseline.  Because of the bird's reaction to wind resistance, a bird hit high and deep will come down in a nearly straight line.

The purpose of hitting a clear is twofold.  One, it makes the other player have to run to the baseline to return the shot, keeping them away from the net.  Frequently, shots from the opposing baseline are weak and allow you several options when playing.  Second, hitting the bird high and deep gives you a chance to return to the center court position which is the best defensive place to be.  Defensive clears are always hit high, giving you extra time to return to a defensive position.  Offensive clears are hit lower, giving the opposing player less time to get to the bird.  There are two types of clears; the overhead, the bird is hit from above the head (as in throwing a baseball), the underhand, the bird is hit from at or below the waist.

SMASH

The bird is hit at a downward angle, trying to put the bird on the floor or at least applying pressure on the opposing player.  Good smashes are hit when you; turn your left side to the net, moving your feet perpendicular to the net, step toward the net, strike the bird above your head with your arm fully extended (using the same form as in throwing a baseball), and follow through.

DROP

The forehand and backhand drop is hit very similarly to the clear.  The major difference is in the force and angle of contact with the bird.  Preparation for the shot is the same as with the clear.  The major difference in the force is accomplished by keeping the wrist firm (not snapping it as in the clear) and pushing the bird at a slightly lower angle than the clear, so that it just clears the top of the net and drops close to the net,

NET DROP

The net drop is used in returning a drop from your opponent.  It is hit with a cocked, firm wrist.  The angle of the hit is nearly straight up, as opposed to hitting toward the net, so that it just clears the top of the net and drops very close to the net on your opponents side.  Making contact at the highest point requires less force and touch than making contact below the net.  This shot is fairly easy to hit when contact is made close to the top of the net.  The further the bird is from the top of the net, the more difficult and less effective the shot becomes.  This shot is sometimes called the hairpin drop because its trajectory looks like a hairpin.  The secret is to keep this shot as close as possible to the net on your opponent's side.

THE COURT AND SERVICE COURTS:

The badminton net height is 5' high.  The singles court is 17' wide and 44' long.  The service courts for singles extend from the front service line to the baseline and from the center line to the singles sideline.  [long & narrow]

The doubles court is 20' wide and 44' long.  The doubles service court extends from the front service line to the back doubles service line and from the center line to the doubles side line.  [short & wide]

...court diagram here...

THE GAME:

PRE-MATCH

Each game shall begin with a toss.  The toss is normally done by hitting the bird in an upward motion and letting it fall to the floor.  Whichever side the nose of the bird points to is the winner of the toss and has the choice of three options:
   Serve or receive
   Choice of side, or end of the court
   Defer to choice to your opponent

BEGINNING PLAY

Play is started by an underhand serve and a side can score only when serving.  Each time an exchange or rally is won while serving, one point is recorded for the server.  If the rally is lost while serving, neither side is awarded a point.  Instead, the serve passes to the opponent (side out) or the next player in rotation (hand out) if playing doubles.  All games are played to 15 points.  A player or team must be ahead by two points to win the game.  If the score is tied 14-14, play continues until one side is ahead by two points.

MATCH PLAY

A match shall consist of two out of three games.  The players shall change ends at the beginning of the second game.  If a third game is needed, the players change ends at the beginning of the game and after one player has scored eight points.  The purpose of the change of ends is to try to give both players equal time on both ends of the court.  If players forget to change ends, they shall change as soon as their mistake is discovered.

SERVICE RULES

A serve is considered completed upon completion of the swing or contact with the bird.  Swinging and missing the bird on the serve counts as an attempt and results in loss of serve.  Unlike tennis, only one attempt is allowed for a player to put the bird into play.  A serve must be made to the correct court.  The server should not serve until the receiver is ready.  The receiver does not have to play the serve if they are not ready.  They should let the bird fall and raise one hand above their head, indicating they were not ready.  Any attempt to hit or return the serve puts the bird in play and signifies that the player was ready.  A server may not use a feint or fake to deceive their opponent.  If the serve hits the net the receiver should let the bird drop to the floor.  A serve that lands outside the boundaries of the service court is a fault.  If a served bird hits the net and lands within the boundary lines of the service court, a let is called and the bird is reserved.  During the serve only the receiver in the proper service court can return the serve and the receiver must be within the service court at the time of the serve.  In doubles, the receiver's partner may not strike a serve meant for his/her partner.  Loss of the rally and point is the penalty for this action.  After the serve is returned either person may return the bird in doubles.  A shot falling inside the boundary lines or directly on a line is considered good.  Birds landing outside the lines are out.  Even if a player attempts to hit the bird but misses it, the bird is still out.  If a player swings at the bird and tips it before it lands out, the rally is won by their opponent.  If any unusual occurrence interferes with the play, a "let" (replay of the point) should be invoked.  Disputed line calls are not reasons for replaying of a point.  If players cannot agree on line calls, an official or umpire should be used.

SINGLES:

SINGLES SERVICE RULES

The rules of serving for singles are very simple.  The server's score determines which court the server and receiver must be in to serve and receive the serve.  If the server's score is an even number (0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14), server and receiver must be in their own right service court for the serve.  If the server's score is an odd number (1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13), the server and receiver must be in their own left service court.  Any service outside the correct service court is a fault which results in loss of serve.  The server and receiver must start within the correct service court, but after the serve has left the server's racquet, each has complete freedom to move anywhere on their side of the net.

SINGLES OFFENSIVE STRATEGY

The best strategy for any racquet sport is called KISS (keep it simple student).  Don't hit the bird where your opponent is standing.  Hit to the open space on the court.  This is sometimes harder to do than you would think.  On some days the bird goes right where you are aiming, on other days it doesn't go anywhere near the place you are aiming.  When you are having a bad day in placement of the bird, remember to allow a large margin of error when making your shot.  Keeping it simple means two basic things.  Both are related to each other.  One is to keep the bird in play by getting it over the net and into the court and the other is to hit near the boundary lines of the court.

The secret to hitting good shots is directly related to being in good position when waiting for the bird to come to you instead of having to hit the bird on the run.  This allows you to step into the bird and then move to center court position to wait for your opponent's next shot.  It also allows you the choice to hit a drop, clear, or smash depending on the position of your opponent and the bird.  Having to hit the bird on the run restricts a lot of your options.  Being in position and waiting on the bird also lets deception come into play.  Preparing in the same way for each shot makes it more deceptive.  Not preparing all shots in the same way will enable your opponent to tell in advance what shot you will be hitting, thus giving them an advantage over you.

Angles

The two basic angles that you should use in making good shots are down the line and crosscourt.  This includes the smash, drop, and clear.  The choice of down the line or crosscourt shot should depend upon the defensive position of your opponent.  The distance between a crosscourt clear or smash is different form a down the line shot.  Because a crosscourt shot travels further than the down the line shot, the player must remember to hit the shot harder so as to achieve the same depth as the down the line shot.  The extra length of the shot also means a little more time in the air for the bird allowing your opponent more time to get to it.

This is especially true in comparing the straight net drop versus the crosscourt net drop.  Hitting the straight net drop by catching the bird close to the top of the net only requires the bird to travel 9" up and 5' down for a total of 5'9".  When hitting the crosscourt net drop, the bird must travel the same distance, 5'9" up and down plus the distance crossways.  This distance can be as much as 20' in a doubles match, thus allowing the bird to be in the air nearly three times as long as a straight drop.  Crosscourt drops can be very deceptive but should be used with discretion.  Because of the short flight time a straight drop is recommended for most net drops.

Hitting Behind Your Opponent

Hitting to the open court is always good strategy.  Even if your opponent returns the bird, it makes them run.  Because your opponent knows that you will usually hit to the open portion of the court, they will sometimes anticipate the shot and start for the open court area before you hit the bird.  Hitting back behind them is often very successful because their motion is in the opposite direction.  Try this after you have made them run a few times.

Power

Hitting a hard smash and deep clear gives your opponent less time to react and return the bird.  This can really help your offense.  Don't forget, however, that excess power can cause more mistakes and errors.  Where you hit the bird is usually more important than how hard you hit the bird.

SINGLES DEFENSIVE STRATEGY

The best defensive position is the center court area.  A player can reach all but the outer portion of their court when in this position.  Most players return the bird to this area 60-70% of the time. 

Keeping the bird in play and not making mistakes will beat a majority of opponents.  However, the height of the net (5') makes it easy for players to actually put the bird over to your side and on to the floor.  Most points and rallies are won by opposing players making mistakes, (hitting the bird into the net or out of bounds).  The flight of the bird usually requires 2 to 3 seconds.  Most players can take 2 to 3 steps in one second.  Center court position puts a player only two to three steps from any shot.  By being in a ready position and ready to react, you should be able to reach almost any shot.

Even when out of position, a player should stop and get in a ready position when the opposing player is hitting the bird.  The 2 to 3 second flight of the bird gives you time to take as many as 5-6 steps if you react quickly.  Whenever you have to hit the bird on the run or out of position, you should nearly always hit a high defensive clear.  This will give you time to get back to center court position.

DOUBLES:

DOUBLES SERVICE RULES

The rules of doubles are different from those of singles.  The player starting in the right hand court should be called the EVEN PLAYER.  His/her partner who starts in the left hand court is called the ODD PLAYER.  When the serving team's score is an even number, the EVEN PLAYER will be the 1st server and the ODD PLAYER will be the 2nd server.  When the serving team's score is a odd number, the ODD PLAYER will be the 1st server and the EVEN PLAYER will be the 2nd server.  As you can see, either player could be the 1st or 2nd server after a side out depending on whether their score is an even or odd number.

The 1st Rule of Doubles is that the serve always starts from the right hand court after a side out.  The 2nd Rule of Doubles is for the serving team to change courts each time after scoring.  Whoever serves first will continue to serve until their team loses a rally thereby ending 1st serve.  This is called a hand out and the 2nd server will then begin their service from the correct court and serve until loss of serve.  The only exception to this is at the beginning of the game where only the person in the right hand court serves until they lose their service (there is no hand out).

All four players must be in their correct service courts at the time the serve is delivered.  After the serve has been struck, there is no restriction on court position, however, only the correct receiver may return the serve.  If a player discovers they served or received from the wrong court and won the rally, they must replay the point from the correct court.  If they lose the rally, no replay is necessary but they resume their correct court position.  If the error is discovered after more than one point has been played, no replay is allowed and they continue to play in their altered position.

DOUBLES STRATEGY

The secret to good doubles play is communication between you and your partner.  If both players go after the same bird, not only can it cause improper court coverage, but sometimes both players let the bird drop to the floor thinking the other player is going to hit it.  The court can be divided in two ways, side by side and up and back.

Side by side is the best doubles formation for both offense and defense.  The court is divided in half by the center line.  If the bird is hit into your half of the court, it is your bird to return.  This avoids confusion as to who should make the return.  The player with the forehand normally hits it when the bird comes down the middle of the court close to the center line.  If one partner has to cover for a partner drawn out of position by a shot, the out of position partner should return to the uncovered portion of the court.  Rallies in doubles are usually longer than in singles.  It is harder to put the bird away so a premium is placed on good shots and not making mistakes.  Shot selection should be in balance.  If a majority of shots are directed at one player, the other player can sneak toward the net and take advantage of a weak shot.  Both players should be kept honest by making them play their own territory.

Up and back is a good offensive formation but is very weak defensively.  Up and back works very well if the opposing team hits to the middle of the court on most of their shots.  Shots hit to the sidelines or corners will cause a team playing up and back to do a lot of running.

FAULTS DURING PLAY:

If the bird lands outside the boundary line, goes into or through the net, hits the roof, side walls, or anything hanging above the court, the rally is over and the player committing the fault is penalized by losing the rally.  In gymnasiums where low beams or other obstructions hang over the courts, birds hitting these obstructions may be counted as a let.

A player may not contact the bird on his/her opponent's side of the net.  He/she must wait for the bird to enter their side before making contact.  The net divides the court and the bird is considered to be on your side when it enters the space above the net.  Any part of the bird that touches or breaks the imaginary line directly above the net is considered playable.  Follow through with the racquet on the opponent's side is allowable as long as contact is made on the proper side.

Touching the net with your racquet, your body, or your clothes while the bird is "in play" is a fault.  If you hit the net following a stroke after your shot has struck the floor, it does not result in a fault because the point is over.

Only one hit is allowed per return.  If the bird does not go over the net after one hit, it is a fault and loss of the rally is the result.  A tipped bird is considered a hit.  A bird that is tipped by one player and returned by his/her partner is illegal.  The bird may not be intentionally caught on the racquet and slung during the execution of the stroke.  A miss or poor timing errors are accepted as legal shots as long as the bird does not stay on the racquet for an extended length of time.

If a player is hit by the bird, whether he is standing within the boundary lines or out of bounds, it is a fault and the player who is hit loses the rally.  Catching a bird that is obviously out to avoid having to bend over and pick it up is also a fault.  A bird is not out until it lands out of bounds.  If a bird sticks to the racquet or the net, it is a fault of the player making the shot.  The only exception to this is if the bird rolls over the net and sticks on the opponent's side.  This is a let and should be played over.

A player may not intentionally hold his racquet or extend it above the net when it would obstruct the opponent's stroke.  This will happen occasionally when a player close to the net hits a poor net shot and tries to defend against a smash.  On the other hand, holding the racquet in front of your face for protection is a good maneuver and any resulting shot is acceptable.

The receiver is entitled to see the complete service motion.  This rule is applicable in doubles when the server's partner stands between or blocks the receiver's vision.  Any obstruction of the serve is a fault on the serving team.

Play must be continuous.  A player may not leave the court or rest at any time from the start to the conclusion of the match.  A five minute rest interval between the second and third game is allowed in all matches if either player requests it.  One three minute injury period per match is allowed.  If a player is unable to continue after the three minute injury interval, they must forfeit the match.  Stalling or delaying the match to improve your breathing is not allowed.  An umpire or official shall be summoned upon request of either player.  Service shall start within ten seconds of the conclusion of each rally.  The umpire shall give a warning about keeping play continuous first, then an official 2nd warning, and for each delay over ten seconds after the 2nd warning, loss of serve or a point will depend upon whether server or receiver is stalling.

UNWRITTEN RULES:

Badminton, like all sports, has unwritten as well as written rules.  Common courtesies and etiquette should be a part of each match.

CONDUCT ON THE COURT

1.  Conduct  the toss before the warm up.  This allows you to warm up on the side where you will play the first game.
2.  Allow sufficient time for the warm up (5-10 minutes).
3.  When warming up with your opponent, hit the bird to them so they can also warm up (wait for the match to begin to make them run).
4.  If you are serving, call the score before each serve.
5.  Make sure your opponent is ready before you serve.
6.  Call any fault on yourself if committed (example, touching the net or the bird touching you).
7.  Make line decisions quickly and correctly.  Nobody likes to play with a cheater.
8.  Indicate all line decisions with a hand signal or verbal call so your opponent knows whether the shot was out or good.
9.  Retrieve birds on your side of the net and those nearest you.  When you return the bird, hit it to your opponent and do not just shove it under the net.  They will appreciate not having to go over and pick the bird up.
10. Avoid abusive language and racquet throwing.  Emotional outbursts have no place on a badminton court or anywhere else for that matter.  Temper tantrums are a show of poor sportsmanship.  Be a good sport!
11. Play your best even if your opponent does not have your expertise.  It is insulting to your opponent to do otherwise.  Lower skilled players improve their skills by playing higher skilled players, but only if the more highly skilled players play up to their ability.