What is Badminton? A Beginner’s Starter Guide

What exactly is badminton? Is it a serious sport or just a past-time? Is it challenging or competitive? Can anyone play badminton? We will attempt to demystify what badminton is and describe how readers like you can start your journey with getting introduced to the sport!

Badminton is a racket sport that is played by 2 to 4 players where they hit a shuttlecock across a suspended net on a rectangular court. The objective of the sport is to hit the shuttlecock over the net so that it lands on your opponent’s side of the court or otherwise cause your opponent to be unable to return the shuttlecock within the boundaries of your court. Doing so will gain you 1 point, each time. A game is concluded when the first team reaches 21 points, meanwhile a match is completed when the first team wins 2 of 3 total games.

As a sport, badminton most closely resembles tennis and ping pong (otherwise known as table tennis) which are also played on a rectangular court with a net, racket, and “ball”. One key difference from tennis / ping pong is that badminton doesn’t allow for the “ball” to bounce on your side of the court before returning it to your opponent’s side of the court. For this reason, badminton then resembles volleyball. Yet, the main difference with volleyball is that badminton doesn’t allow for players to pass the “ball” multiple times before returning it to the opponents. In comparison to these sports, the most unique aspect of badminton would arguably be that the “ball”, known as a shuttlecock or birdie, used is not spherical in nature. Rather, it is a projectile that has a semi-spherical base made of cork and leather with feathers sticking out of the cork to help it fly through the air, like a bird – hence its nickname, birdie.

A standard men’s doubles badminton match.

Now that you have a gist of what badminton is, let’s explore what all you need to know in order to get started! From rules and regulations to recommended equipment, read on for a starter guide geared towards beginners!

What Badminton Equipment is Best for Beginners?

The key pieces of badminton equipment to get you on your way are the: badminton racket, badminton shoe, and shuttlecock. Let’s look into what a beginner should look for in each piece of equipment and what our recommendations are for you! If you are looking for a complete breakdown of the common badminton equipment, look into our post: What Equipment Do You Need to Play Badminton?

The Badminton Racket. Choosing a badminton racket is like trying on clothing, there are ones that look nice but do not suit your specific style. For a beginner, what’s most important is to find a racket that can complement your development while you are learning the game. To prevent injuries that may result from a racket that is less forgiving of a beginner’s form and technique, we recommend the Yonex NanoFlare Drive. This racket is budget friendly and geared towards beginners as it provides decent power and is easy to swing. This combination of benefits will help allow beginners to truly enjoy and learn badminton before they are due for an upgrade. I recommend checking out our Badminton Equipment page for helpful posts that describe more in detail about each of the main equipment categories needed to play badminton.

The Badminton Shoe. While beginners may not necessarily need a pair of shoes designed for badminton, this is perhaps the one piece of equipment we stress the importance of investing in. To truly understand the importance and benefits a pair of badminton shoes brings, read the following article by Victor: WHY ARE BADMINTON SHOES A MUST? As you grow with the sport, you will notice that badminton requires a lot of quick movements: side-to-side, front-and-back, jumping, and sudden stoppage. Badminton shoes will aid you through the demands of the sport, with the primary benefit of providing support to avoid common foot injuries. Our recommendation for beginners is the Yonex Power Cushion 65. This is an all-around shoe that provides stability, support, cushion, and comfort at an affordable price.

The Badminton Shuttlecock. Shuttlecock come primarily in 2 styles – feather or synthetic plastic. Our recommendation for beginners who are learning the ropes of the various badminton shots and are still practicing their timing is to go with the long-lasting, reusable synthetic plastic shuttlecocks. As such, the Yonex Mavis 350 plastic shuttlecock will be your best choice!

As you refine your badminton skills, you will eventually find yourself transition to feather shuttlecocks. A feather shuttlecock is comparatively more fragile and therefore more costly than plastic shuttlecock. When you are ready to make the change to feather shuttlecock, be sure to check out the following resource to find which tier of shuttlecock would fit your budget and play style: The Complete Guide to Yonex Badminton Shuttlecocks (Feathered).

How Much Does it Cost to Start Badminton?

Most of the badminton equipment recommended above is a one-time purchase. Let’s break down how much it costs to start playing badminton:

CategoryItemCost (USD)
RacketYonex Nanoflare Drive$65
ShoesYonex Power Cushion$120
ShuttlecockYonex Mavis 350$13
Total$198

The starter pack of badminton equipment would cost you around $198 USD.

After purchasing your badminton gear, the cost to drop-in at a local gym typically ranges from $5 – 15 USD. Community centers are generally on the lower end of this range as their facilities serve a multi-purposes. On the other hand are badminton gyms. These gyms will fall on the higher end of the spectrum as they are made with one purpose in mind and one purpose only – to deliver an optimal badminton experience. Most gyms allow guests to drop-in for free if it is their first time at the location, and even more so if it is their first time playing the sport – so make sure to ask the front-desk if you can get a freebie.

Let’s find out how much if would cost you to play badminton for a year, if you were paying a drop-in fee of $10.

FrequencyCost BreakdownTotal Cost
Twice per Week$10 drop-in * 2 * 52 weeks = $1040 + $198 (starter pack)$1238
Weekly$10 drop-in * 52 weeks = $520 + $198 (starter pack)$718
Twice per Month$10 drop-in * 2 * 12 months = $240 + $198 (starter pack)$438
Monthly$10 drop-in * 12 months = $120 + $198 (starter pack)$318

If you do get more serious and invested in badminton, know that the shuttlecock price might go up significantly as you switch to feather shuttlecocks, which are more fragile in nature than synthetic plastic ones. On the flip side, if you are finding yourself at the badminton gym more frequently, consider purchasing a membership at the establishment. Most dedicated badminton gyms allow for monthly or annual membership deals that will allow players to pay a flat fee that ultimately saves them the money spent on drop-in fees.

What are the Best Tips for Badminton Beginners?

  1. Invest in badminton shoes. If you had to choose one piece of equipment to invest in, put your money towards a pair of badminton shoes. Trust us, not only will your feet and ankles thank us, but you will be able to prevent more injuries than you know.
  2. Learn your basic badminton shots. Proper form and technique will take you very far in the sport of badminton. If you are brand new to badminton and don’t quite know what types of shots there are, we recommend checking out our other post: What Type of Shots are in Badminton? (With 19 Examples).
  3. Watch badminton videos. There are many badminton videos that beginners can learn from. Drills, strengthening exercises, and visuals will help address the subtleties of badminton that might be lost in written content. Furthermore, you can check out explosive and exciting professional badminton through the BWF channel to draw inspiration from the best of the best.
  4. Warm up and warm down properly. Don’t let the misconceptions of badminton fool you. While the sport is friendly to beginners, rushing onto the court in a hurry to play may lead to avoidable injuries. Make sure you warm-up properly so that your muscles loosen up so you do not cramp, strain or sprain any body part as a result of being cold. Warm down, while largely neglected, will help relieve some tension in your muscles so that you will decrease soreness the next day.

What are the Basic Rules & Regulations in Badminton?

In a standard badminton game, there are a few key rules and regulations to follow. We will cover the scoring system, service, faults, lets, the court court, and the net. If you are interested in learning more in-depth about the rules of badminton, refer to our post: Fundamental Rules of Badminton – The World’s Fastest Racket Sport. For the comprehensive list of the Laws of Badminton, refer here.

The Badminton Scoring System. As of May 2020, badminton scoring system operates on rally scoring, which means that regardless of which side is serving, either team is able to win the point and increase their score by 1. Badminton matches are comprised of 3 games to 21 points, each. The exception is if players reach the score of 20-20 (commonly known as deuce). At this point, players must win by a margin of 2 points over their opponent OR be the first team to reach 30 points, whichever is achieved first. In recreational badminton, players will switch sides after every game. While less common in recreational play, in a tournament setting, if players reach a third and deciding game, they are expected to change ends, or switch sides, when the first team reaches 11 points in the third game. This makes it fair for both teams, as a particular side can be advantageous for lighting or drift factors.

The Badminton Serve. A rule of thumb for serves is that when the score is even, the service is from the right side of the court, whereas if the score is odd, service is delivered from the left side of the court. The serve should only be made when the receiving opponent is ready and the feet of all players are on the ground. Servers are not allowed to move their racket back and forth to juke their opponents or have any sort of practice serve. And unlike tennis, there is no concept of a let, or second serve, during badminton service. However, if the birdie strikes the net and lands within the designated service area, the serve is good. As of 2018, the governing body of professional badminton, Badminton World Federation (BWF), introduced a fixed height service rule which states that the entire shuttlecock must be below 3.77 ft (1.15 m) at the time of contact. This was a replacement of the previously arbitrary rule that the shuttlecock needed to be below the server’s waist, which seemed to punish shorter players and give an advantage to taller players.

Singles service court, even score.
Singles service court, even score.
Doubles service court, even score.
Doubles service court, even score.
Singles service court, odd score.
Singles service court, odd score.
Doubles service court, odd score.
Doubles service court, odd score.

Faults in Badminton. Faults are essentially actions committed by a player that results in their opponents winning the point. While there are many types of faults, we believe beginners should be especially aware of these 4 common faults. 1) If the hitter causes the shuttlecock to hit any sort of obstacle that is hovering over any part of the court. This can occur when playing in multi-purpose gyms where there may be overhanging badminton hoops or low hanging ceilings that might obstruct the birdie’s path. 2) If the birdie touches any part of a player’s body (including the hair) or their clothing. 3) If a player comes in contact with the net with either their body, clothing, or racket before the shuttlecock lands on the ground on their opponents side of the court. 4) If you reach over the net (unless you are following through with a shot) or invade the opponent’s court beneath the net in a manner that would obstruct or distract their play.

Lets in Badminton. Lets are uncommon scenarios in which a rally should be replayed. There are 2 common types of lets that occur in badminton with beginners. 1) When the receiver is not yet ready before the server serves. In professional badminton, they are strict in enforcing that if you are not ready but make an attempt to return the shuttle, then a let is no able to be called. As such, receivers who are not ready should not swing for a serve they are not ready to receive. 2) In recreational badminton a common let is when none of the players in the game can confidently determine whether the shuttlecock landed inside or outside of the court. Proper badminton agreement would be to play a let.

In professional tournament play, each court has a set of line judges that can help determine the result of the landing of a birdie, and at the highest level of tournament play, there is even an electronic system called Hawkeye that can be enlisted to replay in slow motion where the shuttle lands. When Hawkeye is available for teams to use, each team has only 2 chances per game to challenge a line judge’s call, unless they are successful, then they keep their available challenges quota. One rare instance of a let is when the shuttle disintegrates by means of separation of the base from the feathers!

The Badminton Court. There is no technical rules to indicate what type of ground a badminton court needs to be made of or where badminton can be played. Badminton is most commonly played indoors on the ground material of hardwood or concrete (as seen in multi-purpose community centers or academic gymnasiums). Those who play strictly recreational may choose to play on grass or sand, if they have no better alternative. Professional badminton, on the other hand, is played exclusively indoors on special badminton mats. These mats are made of multiple layers of material that reinforce the mat and provide players with a low impact surface that feels springy or bouncy. For more information on the dimensions of the different parts of a badminton court and how to use it to your advantage, refer to our post: What are the Dimensions of a Badminton Court?

The Badminton Net. The most important thing about the badminton net is that it must maintain a height of exactly 5 ft (1.524 m) at the center of the net. A fixed height allows players to not only master a consistent serve, but provides a point of reference for every other badminton shot.

Can Anybody Play Badminton?

Absolutely! The age range of people playing badminton can be from the youthful age of 5 to the senior age of 70+! Due to the nature of the game, it is never too late to get started with playing badminton. Here we will describe a few of the reasons why badminton is a anybody can pick up badminton.

You can set your own pace. At local recreational/community centers and even badminton gyms, you will be able to find a variance of experience in the players. We recommend that you find someone who matches your skill level so that you can have good rallies and not have it be one-sided. As you become more experienced, we recommend to challenge players that are slightly more skilled than yourself to push you past your limits. Whether you are a natural athlete or a newbie looking to increase your physical activity, you will be able to find a worthy opponent.

Badminton is a low contact sport. Unlike American football, soccer or basketball, badminton does not require you to get in physical contact with your opponents during a match. This decreases the chances of physical altercation or injury when bumping into each other. Only in the situation where you are playing a doubles match will you possibly collide with another individual, your partner, on the court. But with practice, coordination and communication, this can easily be avoided!

Badminton is low impact on your body. As you start playing badminton, you can simply hit the shuttlecock either by just standing in place or even walking to intercept the shuttlecock as it passes the net to your side. The minimum required action would be the swinging of your racket to meet the shuttlecock, mostly causing you to develop your arm strength. As you progress in badminton is when more advanced movement and techniques may become more strenuous for your body. Lunges, jumps and sudden start-and-stop motions may contribute to more strain on your joints. However, with your growth in badminton is where you will look into badminton conditioning in parallel. Check out the following video for 4 simple exercises to improve your badminton game that relies only on your own bodyweight and does not require any equipment here.

The most difficult part about starting your badminton journey is finding a facility to play badminton. I recommend doing a quick Google search to see what is available in your area. You will be surprised that in addition to badminton gyms, community centers and recreation centers, club badminton play can also be found in schools, athletic centers, warehouses, and even churches!

Take these tips and recommendations to heart as you pick up badminton and add it to your routine. Before you step onto the court, it would help to learn some of the basic badminton sportsmanship through the following post: 7 Unspoken Rules of Badminton Etiquette. Let us know if you found the content helpful, or if there is any topic that you would like us to expand on that would help you out!

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