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Out or in? That’s a fundamental question — one that every line judge and umpire asks.

When a shuttlecock lands on a line, it’s indeed considered within bounds or “in.” The shuttlecock’s cork base needs to make contact with the line. As long as the shuttlecock lands within the line’s threshold or the line itself,the shot will be considered “in.” This gives a point to the player who made the shot. Even if the cork only makes partial contact with a line, it is still considered “in.”

It gets a little more nuanced than this. Luckily, I’ll be more than happy to expand the bounds of your understanding about when a shuttlecock is in or out of bounds. 

Read on to learn more about when a shot counts and when it’s out of bounds!

Is the Line Considered “In” on a Badminton Serve? 

Unlike in most sports, the line in badminton is more than a demarcation of the playing surface’s legal threshold. In other words, it’s more than a line that tells line judges or linesmen where the court ends.

According to 9.1.9 Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) Service Rules, the line is considered “in” even if the shuttlecock lands on it. The condition is that the line needs to be one of the surrounding lines of the service area. If a shuttlecock lands on one of these lines following a legal service, the shuttlecock will be considered still within bounds.

To get an idea of how this plays out (pun intended), let’s look at two scenarios. These examples will illustrate how the above rule applies to singles games.

Imagine two players standing diagonally opposite each other, as per the BWF’s rules. The server initiates the serve. As soon as the server serves the receiver moves towards the shuttlecock to strike it. Sadly the receiver misses, and the shuttlecock’s base lands exactly on the line.

Are There Any Lines Considered Out of Bounds During a Serve? 

We’ve just covered when a shuttlecock is considered within bounds during singles play, but when can a shuttlecock be considered out of bounds after service? We can answer this by looking into whether or not there are out-of-bound lines during service.

The lines outside the legal service areas are considered out of bounds. If a shuttlecock’s cork makes contact with any of these lines, the player who made the shot won’t get the point — the opponent or receiver will instead. As well, the areas encompassed by these lines are also out of bounds.

In most cases, the falling of the shuttlecock on an area that’s out of bounds seems straightforward. However, some situations will result in either confusion or disagreement between a line judge and a player. One such situation is when the shuttlecock bounces.

Keep in mind that the cork base of the shuttlecock is what’s being observed when officials judge a landing. It is the part of the shuttlecock that needs to make contact with a line or surface. Let’s illustrate with an example.

Imagine a server that strikes the shuttlecock to initiate play. Following service, the receiver doesn’t strike the shuttlecock, recognizing the trajectory of its flight. The shuttlecock does land on an area that’s considered “in” but it bounces onto a line that’s not in the legal service area during play.

In such a situation, officials may turn to the Instant Review System. When the officials see that it was the shuttlecock’s feathers that landed first on the legal service line, the service will not count. When the officials see that the cork base made no contact with the line but bounces to an “out” line, the point goes to the receiver. 

CRAZY Badminton Saves Part 1 x
CRAZY Badminton Saves Part 1

Are There Any Lines Considered Out of Bounds?

The service lines for singles games surround a player’s service area. According to the BWF’s standard court measurements, the ones behind and in front of a player will measure 2.61 meters each. The ones at the sides will be 4.72 meters each. If you do the math, this gives a player 12.32 square meters of an area during a serve.

Beyond these lines, any line will be considered out of bounds. These lines, in particular, are the sidelines for doubles. These lines are just beyond the first lateral boundary lines of the court. These lines are about half a meter from the inner boundary lines — 0.42 meters, to be exact, as per the BWF’s standard.

During singles play, under no circumstances should the shuttlecock make contact with the aforementioned lines. It’s only in doubles games where these lines would be considered still within bounds.

Thank Your Line Judges

There’s a lot to be said about hitting the shuttlecock at the right speeds. However, without it landing on the right spot, knowing who should receive the point can be an area of confusion, throwing the game into chaos.

Luckily, we’ve got line judges and umpires who have the skills and visual acumen for this. Because of these BWF-trained badminton officials, we’ve got games with clear winners and indisputable outcomes.


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