In badminton, the shuttlecock can land at such an odd angle that players need to resort to extreme measures to keep the rally going. How extreme? Well, it’s extreme to the point where the player has to get very close to the net to return the stroke. As you might imagine, the racket might cross the net. Is this legal?
A racket is allowed to cross the net in badminton only if the shuttlecock is inside the striker’s end of the court. In other words, while the shuttlecock is on the opponent’s court, the receiving player cannot preemptively hit it. Only after the shuttlecock has gone over the net onto the side of the receiver’s court can the receiver hit the shuttlecock with the racket crossing the net. A fault may be called in two different situations. 1.) If the striking player crosses the net with their racket when the shuttlecock hasn’t reached their end or 2.) if the racket crosses the net legally and then contacts the opponent’s racket. The second is actually a fault on the opponent even though it is technically the opponent’s end of the court.
But what does it mean to “cross the net?” Let’s kick off the discussion by getting this question out of the way!
What is Considered Crossing the Net in Badminton?
So, when can a judge or umpire call a fault for a racket crossing the net?
The racket crosses the net when it goes over the net. It doesn’t have to be the entire racket. Even if just a part of the racket — like the head — goes past the net, it counts as the racket crossing the net.
The Badminton World Federation (BWF) does not allow crossing the net except when the striker follows the shuttlecock over the net with the racket in the course of a stroke after the initial point of contact with the shuttlecock is on the striker’s side of the net. Other than this scenario, when a racket crosses the net, a fault is called.
One other point worthy of mentioning is that when the badminton racket crosses the net, it shouldn’t touch any part of the net. When the racket makes contact with the net when the rally is live, the umpire will fault the player who made the stroke even if the shuttlecock has already crossed over to the player’s end of the court.
When Can a Badminton Racket Cross the Net?
A racket can cross the net in two ways: illegally and legally. The BWF’s Laws of Badminton identifies one situation where the racket can cross the net and not lead to a fault.
The racket can cross the net whenever the player executes a strike to return the shuttlecock. According to 13.4.2 of the BWF’s Laws of Badminton, the racket can legally cross the net only after the shuttlecock has made it to the receiver’s end of the court. In addition, under no circumstances can the racket touch the badminton net as this will result in a fault. The contact will be called out as a fault even if the player passes the racket over the net to return the opponent’s stroke.
It might help to have a couple of examples to illustrate this rule in practice. Let’s imagine three scenarios: scenarios A, B, and C.
Scenario A: The Racket Crosses the Net After the Shuttlecock Flies Over the Net
Picture two players — A and B. Player A is the server while B is the receiver. Player A serves, causing the shuttlecock to fly over the net. Player B sees that the shuttlecock is about to land a foot away from the net on his side of the court.
He sprints and executes a net kill swipe to return the shuttlecock. In doing so, a few inches of his racket’s head goes over the net without the racket touching it. In this scenario, the crossing is legal.
Scenario B: The Racket Crosses the Net Before the Shuttlecock Flies Over the Net
Imagine the same players. This time, player A is about to initiate service. Eager to make a return stroke, player B preemptively passes his racket over the net.
In this scenario, the racket illegally crossed the net. This leads to a fault to player B.
Scenario C: The Racket Touches the Net
In attempting to return player A’s service, player B springs towards the shuttlecock and swipes the shuttlecock. While he does manage to strike it over the net, the racket makes contact with the net’s top taping.
In this situation, player B committed a fault because the racket touched the net.
Can a Badminton Racket Go Under the Net?
We’ve covered instances where the racket goes over the net — but can it go under the net?
According to section 13.4.3 of the BWF’s Laws of Badminton, a badminton racket cannot go under the net if it causes an obstruction to the opponent. However, when players go under the net during a forward movement, no fault is called as long as there is no obstruction to the opponents’ movement.
Passing the racket under the net will result to a fault on the part of the player committing this violation. This is regardless of whether or not the racket touched the net or not.
Can Parts of a Player’s Body Go Under the Net?
If you’ve been a follower of the sport for some time, you’ll likely have seen players being docked a point for being too close to the net. Here’s why:
Parts of a player’s body (like the foot) cannot go under the net if it causes an obstruction to the opponent. This is the case even if the player will strike a shuttlecock flying to his or her side of the court. The BWF’s Laws of Badminton identifies this as a potential distraction to the opponent, thereby calling it as an incident warranting a fault to the erring player.
When you think about it, a player would have to be really close to the net for any part of the body to go under the net. While this might seem harmless, an umpire can interpret this as an attempt to distract or obstruct the opponent. For this reason, it’s best to keep a distance from the net. Besides, being that close to the net can lead to making contact with it, leading to a fault.
Sometimes Over and Under but Never Against the Net
Once again, the only time the racket can go over the net is when you’re striking a shuttlecock that’s crossed over to your end of the court.
Beyond this, you’re risking a fault — and nobody wants that in a game of badminton!
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