How to Play Badminton Doubles – Quick Starter Guide

This post is about how to play doubles in badminton as fast as possible. We’ll go over the essential rules you need to know and it won’t be in-depth or contain obscure rules. If you want to dive into details, check out some of the other resources below:

PostDescription
Everything You Need to Know About Service Rules in BadmintonService rules and Q & A for common service questions
Fundamental Rules of Badminton – the World’s Fastest Racket SportGeneral badminton rules written in an easy to understand manner
Laws of BadmintonOfficial rules from Badminton World Federation
What’s the Difference Between Singles and Doubles in Badminton?Differences in rules and strategy between singles and doubles

Let’s get started, here’s what you need to know:

  1. Objective
  2. How to Start a Match
  3. Scoring
  4. Court Boundaries
  5. Change of Ends
  6. Basic Service Rules
  7. Service Rotation
  8. Other Service Rules

Objective

The objective in a badminton match (for both singles and doubles) is to win 2 out of 3 games to 21 points each. In each game, the winning team must win by at least 2 points, meaning that if the score is 21 to 20, the game continues on. There is a cap at 30 points, so if the score becomes 29 to 29, the team that wins the next point wins the game. If a team wins the first 2 games, no 3rd game is played.

How to Start a Match

A quick way (but not the official way) to start a badminton match is to simply decide which team will start serving with a random coin toss or shuttle toss (whichever team the shuttle is pointing to will serve first). The initial player formation is chosen by the respective teams. The choice of ends (which side of the net you start at) can be random.

The official way to start a game is discussed in What Does an Umpire Do in Badminton?

Scoring

Your team scores a point when one of the following events occur:

  1. The shuttle lands inbounds in the opposing team’s court
  2. The opposing team hits the shuttle out of bounds
  3. The opposing team does not hit the shuttle over the net
  4. The opposing team commits a fault

Here are some clarifications of the above rules that come up frequently:

  • Teams will score no matter which team serves – this is called rally scoring.
  • Shuttles that land on lines are considered in.
  • If the shuttle hits the net but still goes over the net, it is considered still in play and is valid.
  • Common faults include touching the net, hitting the shuttle more than once before it goes back over the net, touching the shuttle with your body or clothes, and hitting the shuttle before it has passed over the net. All of these result in losing the point. There are many other faults not covered here, especially in service. If you want more details about it, make sure to read Everything You Need to Know About Service Rules in Badminton.

On a side note, scores are often called out by saying the serving team’s score first and then the receiving team’s score second. This convention makes it so everyone knows which score is referring to which team.

Court Boundaries

Doubles uses the full court, which means you only need to pay attention to the outer lines of the court (except during service, which has special rules that we cover below).

Badminton Court
A standard badminton court, doubles uses the entire court

Change of Ends

Teams will change ends at the end of each game and at the 11 point mark in the 3rd game, if there is a 3rd game. Changing ends means the team will play from the other side of the net. This is to balance out any advantages/disadvantages teams have due to lighting, air currents, or other factors.

Basic Service Rules

The service has special rules in badminton. There are 4 important things to keep in mind:

  1. The server and receiver have special zones they must stand within.
  2. The serve is only considered inbounds if it lands in the receiver’s special zone.
  3. Your score determines whether you serve from the left or right side of the court – from the left side if your score is odd and from the right if your score is even.
  4. All players must have their feet on the ground until the server hits the shuttle.

Some things to clarify:

  • Neither the server nor receiver can step on lines during service.
  • The server’s partner may stand anywhere in their side of the court as long as they do not block the receiver’s view of the shuttle.
  • The receiver’s partner may stand anywhere in their side of the court.
  • The receiver’s partner may not hit the serve, this counts as a fault.
  • Players may move once the shuttle is hit by the server – the shuttle does not need to go past the net before players can move.

Here are the special zones for the server and receiver:

Doubles Service Boundaries for Odd Score
Doubles service court, odd score
Doubles Service Boundaries for Even Score
Doubles service court, even score

Service Rotation

The serving player changes throughout a badminton game, which is called service rotation. It sounds somewhat complicated but it’s actually quite simple once you get the hang of it.

The first thing to understand is that every player has a starting position on court – either left or right. Partners on a team cannot have the same starting position. Initial starting positions are determined by the players.

A player’s position ONLY changes from left to right or right to left when their team wins a point that they served. That is the only rule you need to remember for service rotation. There are no other instances where players’ starting positions change.

Keep in mind that starting positions only determine where the server and receiver must stand as illustrated in the previous section. If you are not serving or receiving, you do not necessarily have to be on the left or right side of the court.

Other Service Rules

Most of the rules in badminton have to do with service – here’s a few more important ones:

  • You must serve underhand.
  • You only get 1 serve attempt.
  • You must hit the shuttle below 1.10 meters (3.6 feet) from the ground.
  • A let (redo) is played if you serve before the receiver is ready.
  • The receiver is considered ready if they attempt to hit the shuttle.

That’s all the basic rules you need to know to start playing doubles! Once again, these are just the basic and bare minimum rules that you need to know to start playing, if you want to know more, check out some of the other posts below.

PostDescription
Everything You Need to Know About Service Rules in BadmintonService rules and Q & A for common service questions
Fundamental Rules of Badminton – the World’s Fastest Racket SportGeneral badminton rules written in an easy to understand manner
Laws of BadmintonOfficial rules from Badminton World Federation
What’s the Difference Between Singles and Doubles in Badminton?Differences in rules and strategy between singles and doubles

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