Who serves first in badminton?

Who Serves First in Badminton?

When starting a badminton match, you need to decide who is going to start serving. There are several ways to do it, so I have written this post in order to explain all the different options.

So, who serves first in badminton? In order to decide who serves first in badminton, players usually place the shuttle on top of the net with the cork up and let it fall to the ground. When the shuttle stops moving, wherever the cork is pointing, that is the player/team that chooses if they want to serve or receive. Also, you can do a similar thing but hitting the shuttle with your racket up in the air and letting it fall to the ground.

Alternatively, sometimes players play one rally to decide who serves first. Whoever wins the rally chooses if he/she wants to serve or receive.

For pros, the umpire tosses a coin as in most sports and the winner of the toss decides.

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Who serves first in the second and third sets?

In badminton, the winner of the previous set starts serving in the following set. So, if you win the first set, you will start serving in the second set. If then your opponent wins the second set, your opponent will start serving in the third set.

This rule follows general service rules. In badminton, whenever you win a point, you serve in the next point. Therefore, since you won the last point of the previous set (otherwise you wouldn’t have won the set), you start serving in the next set.

How many serves do you get in badminton?

In badminton, contrary to tennis, you only get one serve. Therefore, if your service is not good and you commit a fault, you lose the serve and the point. Your opponent scores a point and then he or she will serve in the next rally. If you are curious to know how to serve properly in order to avoid committing faults, be sure to check our badminton service post. In this post, we explain all the different types of serves and how to perform them.

The only exception to the one serve rule is when the umpire calls a “let”. In that case, you get another serve. These are the situations in which an umpire might call “let”:

  • If the server serves before the receiver is ready. This is true as long as the receiver doesn’t move. If the receiver moves and tries to get the shuttle, it will be considered that he was ready.
  • During service, both the receiver and the server are deemed to have committed a fault.
  • The shuttle is caught on the net and remains suspended on its top.
  • After having passed over the net, the shuttle is caught in the net.
  • The shuttle disintegrates during play with the base completely separating from the rest of the shuttle.
  • Play is disrupted (for example because a shuttle from a different court lands in the court) or a player of the opposing side is distracted by a coach.
  • A line judge is unsighted and the umpire is unable to make a decision.

What are the rules for serving in badminton?

This is a summary of the rules that guide serving in badminton. If you want to know a bit more about service rules (and all the other rules in badminton), be sure to check out our extensive badminton game rules post.

Serving diagonally

The most basic point for both types of matches is that you always serve diagonally as happens in other racket sports like tennis. So, if you are serving from the right side of the court, you will serve to the right side of the court of your opponent, thus diagonally.

You cannot stop a service movement once it has started

If you start with your backward movement in order to serve, any delay at the start of the service can be considered an undue delay. If that was the case, the umpire or service judge can call a fault and you can lose the rally.

Both feet of the server and the receiver have to be in contact with the court and stay within the margins while serving

Moreover, some part of both feet of the server and the receiver have to remain in contact with the surface of the court in a stationary position from the start of the service until the service is delivered.

It is also mandatory that the part of the feet in contact with the court does not touch the lines that mark your position, be it the front line or the sideline. This is true for both the server and the receiver.

The server’s racket shall initially hit the base of the shuttle

When serving, it is also mandatory to hit the base of the shuttle first. The base of the shuttle is the cork, the semispherical part that is always the one that flies towards you when in play.

All the shuttle has to be below waist height when hitting the shuttle

In order to perform the service correctly, it is mandatory that the shuttle is below waist height when it is being hit in the service movement.

The waist is considered to be an imaginary line around the body, at the same height as the lowest part of the server’s bottom rib.

The racket head and the shaft have to be pointing down while serving

In addition to the shuttle being below waist height, another important element is that the racket head and shaft have to be pointing down while serving.

Racket_measurements
Image showing the different parts of the racket. Both the head and the shaft need to be pointing down at the moment of serving.

Serving in singles

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In this video, Sikana English explains the rules for serving in singles

In singles, the player who starts serving with 0-0 as a score will start serving from the right side of the court. This is because, whenever the server’s score is even, the server will serve from the right side. On the other hand, whenever the server’s score is odd, the server will serve from the left side of the court.

If, for example, the receiver wins the rally, he will (obviously) score a point and will become the server. The new server will serve from whichever side the score indicates. If the receiver has scored its first point, for example, being an odd number, he/she will serve the following point from the left side. On the other hand, if the receiver has, for example, scored its 6th point, being it an even number, he/she will serve the following point from the right side.

Serving in doubles

Serving in doubles is a bit more complicated than in singles. However, we will try to explain it in its most simple form.

The two most basic rules are the following:

First, each side has only one service. This means that, if you start serving and you lose the point, the service “passes” to the other team.

Second, players do not change their respective service courts until they win a point when their side is serving.

These two rules being clear, we can see how this unfolds.

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You can also see a video where Sikana English explains the rules for serving in doubles

As it happens in singles, you have to serve from whichever side your score indicates. If, for example, your team is serving and its current score is 14, then your team has to serve from the right side. Who has to serve, though? Well, it depends. If you are serving and you win the rally, you keep the service and move onto the other side of the court. If the opponents are serving and you win the rally, you get the service and however was on the right side of the court on the previous rally will serve.


Final words

And with this, we have arrived at the end of this post. Do you have a better understanding of who serves first in badminton and how to proceed with it? Or do you still have any doubts on how this works? Let us know in the comments below!

License for featured image

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons license “Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International”.

Attribution: BugWarp, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

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