Badminton judge indicating that the shuttlecock is out

This is a comprehensive guide on the most common badminton faults.

The knowledge of these faults will keep you from giving away free points and force your opponent to be at their best to defeat you on the court.

Let’s jump into it.

Key Takeaways

  • Several badminton faults are very common, like touching the net when returning a shot or moving before a serve is being made, and thus should be avoided if you don’t want to gift a point to your opponent.
  • The server commits a large number of these faults, though the receiver also makes their fair share of errors.

1. Holding the Shuttle Too High During a Serve

Did you know that the badminton rules require you to hold the shuttle below 1.15 meters when you serve?

Most badminton players, especially those who are still learning the ropes of this game, aren’t aware of this rule. Mainly because there are no dedicated serve judges at the amateur level who could correct them.

As a result, the majority of players only find out about this rule’s existence when they’re playing a professional match. However, by that time, their opponent already has a point in the bag.

2. Racket Pointing Up During Serve

If your racket is pointing up during service, or it is vertically flat, the referee will award your opponent a point.

That means that only underhand serves are legal – which is when you deliver the service from beneath your waist, with both your feet planted on the floor.

One way to make sure you are not committing this foul is by asking a friend to stand on the side of the court and observe how you serve. Ask them to correct you if they find anything questionable about your technique.

3. Pausing During Serve

Pausing between backswing and forward swing during the serve is a fault.

Many club players and even some professional players use this pause to offset the receiver’s timing and catch them off-guard.

However, if the referee finds that you’re pausing deliberately, they will be well within their rights to award a point to the receiver. That is because deliberate pausing would amount to an undue delay.

4. Moving Before the Serve Has Been Made

It’s not just the server who is always at fault in badminton. In some cases, the receiver is also penalized by the referee.

For instance, if the receiver starts moving before the serve has been made, the referee will take that as a sign that the receiver is trying to gain an unfair advantage. This will allow the server to win the point.

Furthermore, badminton rules require you to keep your racket still if you’re receiving the serve. Moving your racket around or making any remarks will result in the referee awarding a point to the server.

5. Hitting the Shuttlecock Before it Has Crossed the Net

Have you ever seen a professional badminton player hitting the shuttlecock before it has crossed the net? Personally, I haven’t.

But no matter how enticing the incoming shot’s trajectory is, badminton players are prohibited from hitting the shuttlecock until it has crossed the net.

Having said that, you don’t have to wait for the entire shuttlecock to cross the net — badminton rules allow you to hit the shuttlecock when its point of contact is on your side of the court.

6. Double Hitting the Shuttlecock

This is one fault almost every badminton player is aware of.

Unlike volleyball, in which three different players from the same team are allowed to hit the ball up to three times before it crosses the net, badminton rules dictate that even in doubles games you can hit a shuttlecock only once.

Even if the double hit was inadvertent — such as when the shuttlecock accidentally hit your body before hitting the strings of the racket — the receiver would still be awarded a point.

7. Hitting the Shuttlecock’s Feathers First While Serving

Give credit to Malaysia’s Sidek brothers for this fault’s presence in rule books.

The brothers were notorious for abusing the “S” serve technique — which is a service technique in which you hit the feathers first to make the shuttlecock spin wildly, making it almost impossible for the receiver to return it.

The duo abused this technique so much that the Badminton World Federation (BWF) had to ban its use in professional matches. As a result, you can no longer legally strike the feathers of the shuttlecock first during a serve.

8. Touching the Net While the Rally is Still On It

One way to keep the rally going is ensuring that your racket, clothes, or any body part don’t come into contact with the net during a rally.

Having said that, it is not a fault if your racket crosses the net after striking the shuttle or your foot goes under it.

This means that there will have to be some sort of physical contact between your gear and the net in the middle for the referee to award a point to your opponent.

9. Multiple Start and Stop Motions During Service

Badminton rules dictate that the serve must be made in a continuous forward motion. There cannot be multiple forward and backward motions of the racket while you’re making the serve.

This fault is commonly seen in amateur games where players try to trick their opponent into thinking that the ‘next’ movement of the racket will result in a serve. Small wonder, then, that this is a fault.

10. Disturbing the Opponent while the Rally is still On

If the referee feels that your actions are a deliberate attempt to disturb the opponent during the rally, then they will award them a point.

This is as good a reason as any to avoid making gestures and trash talking to the other player while the rally is still ongoing.

Keep your concentration on your game if you want to win the rally and have the point added to your tally.

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