Can You Serve Diagonally in Badminton?

Many people believe there are a lot of similarities between badminton and tennis. However, this is not exactly true. The rules of badminton are set by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) and are meant to make badminton its own game. This has slightly worked, with recognition of badminton as a different game, but many fans still wonder if you can serve diagonally in badminton.

Yes. You can and should serve diagonally in badminton. The game of badminton is relatively strict on how a serve may be done including positioning, direction, and timing. The serve must be below the waistline and remain within the bounds of the badminton court. Otherwise, it is considered “out” and a point is given to the opposing team.

Badminton is a simple and yet complicated game, so let’s dive deeper into the rules about serving in this popular racket sport.

Badminton Serving Basics

To determine who receives the first serve is determined by a coin toss before the start of the game. Since full badminton is played to the best of 3 matches, the winning side of each match gets the first serve in the following matches.

The first serve in badminton is given from the right side of the court and must be aimed diagonally to the left side of the opposing court. The serves must be given in an underhand style with the shuttlecock being hit below the waistline of the serving player.

Similar to tennis or volleyball, the same player can continue to serve as long as they win consecutive rallies. Once a point is given to the opposite team, the serve changes sides. A serve should not be done unless the receiving player is ready to return.

Serving Faults and Re-serves

Just like other racket sports, badminton serves can be faulty and either forfeit a point or demand a reserve should certain things occur.

  • Complete miss: if the server’s racket does not touch the shuttlecock at all during the serve, they are eligible for a re-serve to try and get it over the net and into the opposing court.
  • Overhand serves: if the shuttlecock is touched while above the waistline of the serving player or the head of the racket is above the hand, it is considered a faulty serve.
  • Straight serves: to give the receiving player a fair chance at returning the serve and starting a rally, shuttlecocks must be served diagonally to the side of the court the opposing player is standing. Any other directional serve is a fault.
  • Feet in the air: shuttlecocks must be served with both feet firmly on the ground. The server must also be in the court lines, if even a toe is touching the out-of-bounds line, the serve is considered a fault.

Many players practice their serves repeatedly in order to make sure they do not forfeit a point by accidentally committing a faulty serve.

Singles vs. Doubles Matches

The serving and playing rules of badminton do vary slightly between singles and doubles matches. Given there are two more people on the court in doubles, things happen a bit differently, especially with the serves.

The basic rules set by the BWF remain the same: serve from the right side of the court, serve diagonally, and keep both feet on the ground. The main difference in serving rules for doubles is the specific order in which serves are given. Partners must alternate who serves and no one player should be allowed to serve until their partner has done so as well.

The other important remembrance while playing doubles is that the partner cannot impede the path or sight of the server. If this happens it is considered a service court error and immediately corrected before gameplay begins. The same happens if a player accidentally gets the serve twice in a row after a change of serve.

Finals Thoughts

You can (and should) serve diagonally in badminton. If you serve in any other direction when playing professionally or competitively, it is considered a fault and either demand a re-serve or a point forfeit. Also make sure when serving that it is done in an underhanded manner, with two feet on the ground, and stays on the court. So go start practicing to perfect that serve!