What is an Interval in Badminton?

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Picture yourself sprinting after a shuttlecock flying at breakneck speeds. Worse yet, imagine having to do this for as long as you can just so you don’t drop it during the rally. Besides speed, dexterity, and luck, you’ll need a break at some point. That’s where the badminton interval comes in!

The Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) Laws of Badminton defines an interval as a temporary break in the continuity of play. In other words, it’s a period where play stops, and players can enjoy a much-needed respite from the physical rigors of the game. Lasting no more than two minutes (between games) or 60 seconds (when the first player or team reaches 11 points), an interval occurs following fixed situations.

Well, that’s good news, isn’t it? Even the BWF recognizes the need for a break!

Read on to learn more about when you can expect a break in a game of badminton and what you can do during these periods if you’re playing. Also, read to the end to learn why the BWF has intervals in place.

So, take a break and learn all about the badminton interval!

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When Does an Interval Occur in Badminton?

An interval occurs following different situations in a badminton game. The BWF’s rules identify two situations. The length of an interval also depends on which situation the interval follows.

According to the BWF’s Laws of Badminton, an interval in badminton occurs when the leading score reaches 11 points. The interval is no longer than 60 seconds but allows players enough time to catch their breath and rehydrate. There’s also a 120-second interval in between games. The 120-second interval occurs after the first and second games.

Interval Timer
An interval is a temporary break from the play.

An interval starts as soon as the referee indicates that the last rally has ended. After the 60 or 120-second mark, the players now need to make their way back to the center of the court, ready for service.

Why Are There Intervals in Badminton?

There are two main reasons why intervals are introduced into a badminton match.

Intervals are primarily included to allow players to rest and rehydrate themselves during a long badminton match. In addition to providing some much-needed respite, the interval also gives ample time for a change of ends, which we’ll get to later.

Interval Equipment Repair
During intervals, officials can repair equipment.

Intervals have other purposes, too. During intervals, referees can assess the court and order fixes following any damages that can interrupt play. In addition, the interval gives officials enough time to also rest and if need be, replace broken shuttlecocks with new ones.

What Can a Player Do During Intervals?

There are a lot of possibilities when there is an interval in badminton. The players usually use this time to do the following:

First, the player will drink water and rehydrate themselves.This is very important because players can easily get dehydrated, and it would affect their physical and mental performance during the game (especially if it is a long game). Players also receive advice from their coach and have time to prepare mentally for the next match. During the longer 120-second interval, players will also have sufficient time to go to the opposite end of the court. This is the change of ends.

Coaches will usually position their players strategically in one area to maximize the interval for rest and counsel. The momentary break in the game is useful because it gives them some time to replan their game strategy, regain their mental fortitude, and refocus on the remaining game play with the help of their coach.

Interval Water Break
Players rehydrate and rest.

Additionally, players use this time to towel off and male players sometimes will switch their shirt if the game is too intense and their shirts are drenched in sweat. 

Players (and officials) need to maximize the short intervals. The BWF has strict rules on the delay of play.

According to the Laws of Badminton, no delays can be made. Once the umpire sees any attempt to delay the resumption of the game for whatever reason (e.g., added rest), the umpire can penalize the player for trying to put the game off.

What is the Change of Ends in Badminton?

As mentioned earlier, the longer interval (the one that lasts 120 seconds) allows players enough time to swap ends on the court. Within the interval, players can quickly catch their breath and change the positions they occupy on the court, essentially switching sides of the net with their opponent(s). This is the change of ends.

The change of ends is when the players switch courts so that each player has an equal chance to serve. The rationale behind the switch is that it keeps things fair and prevents one player from having an advantage.

While changing sides, players must remain on the court while doing so. The BWF’s Laws of Badminton prohibit players from leaving the court. If a player steps off the court without the permission of the umpire, the umpire will interpret this as an attempt to delay play. As a result, the player caught vacating the court’s premises will be penalized and faulted, giving the opponent a point and the right to serve.

Additionally, while changing ends, players will take all of their badminton belongings (bags, rackets, clothing, etc.) with them and place them in the respective bins on the other end of the court. 

Change of Ends
Change of Ends

When Does the Change of Ends Happen in Badminton?

A change of ends in badminton can occur one or three times, depending on whether or not there’s a third game to decide the winner.

In badminton, players shall change ends at the end of the first set or game. If the opposite player or team wins the second set or game, another change of ends happens. Then when the leading player or team reaches 11 points in the third and deciding set, there is one final change of ends.

A change of ends is an absolute must, according to the BWF rule book. Of course, officials are human, and mistakes can occur. Sometimes, officials and players can be so engrossed in the game’s proceedings that all parties involved forget about the end change.

When this happens, the BWF has rules for what should occur. According to 8.2 of the BWF Statutes, the umpire needs to order a change of ends as soon as the error is seen. Normal play resumes immediately thereafter.

Why is There a Change of Ends in Badminton?

The change of ends simply gives players “a change of scenery,” so to speak. Of course, there’s more to it than that. It’s all about the idea of evening-out advantages. Here’s what I mean.

Competitive players can surely notice the difference between different sides of the court. One side could have a different draft or airflow that affects the flight of the shuttlecock, which could make one end or another easier to control their shots. Another factor is the positioning of the lights may have an affect on the vision of the player. And finally, the backdrop will always be different on one end or the other.

Players who are able to pick up on the nuances between the different ends of the court can not only use it to their advantage when it aligns to their benefits, but can also look at exploiting the weaknesses of the other end that their opponent(s) are occupying.

Badminton is all about doing the most, within the rules and regulations, to win. And using your end of the court, is no exception!

Badminton Players Need a Break Too! 

There are various situations in a badminton game when the shuttlecock stops flying, rackets cease striking, and players stop panting. In the game of badminton, such situations occur infrequent stoppages like lets and faults. Lets, for example, don’t occur too frequently, taking place during extenuating circumstances like unsportsmanlike conduct and unforeseen contingencies.

While there are micro-rests that occur when rallies end or during shuttlecock changes as well, but elongating these situations to try and regain your energy can lead to the umpire calling a delay of game and penalizing the offending player or team. 

If these were the only times the game can stop, you’ll probably see more players falling prey to exhaustion. When this happens, their performance drops with each set and game. Needless to say, this makes for a boring game — the exact opposite of what badminton is supposed to be.

Luckily, the BWF has already recognized this when it formulated its statutes for the game. Their recognition of the need for respite and adjustment manifests itself in the badminton interval.

The badminton interval gives players 60 to 120 seconds of rest — just enough for their heart rates to come down. It occurs as soon as one player or team scores 11 points. It also happens a second time and for longer in between sets or games.

The interval gives players and officials sufficient time to rest and recharge. More importantly, it allows players to rest and move to opposite sides of the court during the change of ends.

Does a game of badminton ever stop? You bet!

Don’t worry, though. The excitement begins as soon as the umpire calls play to start.

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