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Basic Badminton Terms and Their Meaning to Enjoy the Game Better

Badminton Terms
Are you new to the game of badminton, and wondering what are the common terms related to the sport? Here, we give you a list of terms and rules of badminton, so that you understand the sport better.
Madhurjya Bhattacharyya
Last Updated: Feb 26, 2018
Badminton, a sport played with rackets and shuttlecocks, is a popular game today. Due to its increasing popularity, the game was included as an Olympic sport in 1992. The game involves two opposing players (singles) or two opposing pairs (doubles). The objective is to hit the shuttlecock into the opponent's half of the court.
A racket is the equipment used by badminton players to hit a shuttlecock. It weighs about 3 ounces, and is 27 inches long. Nowadays, the frame is usually made of boron, graphite, carbon, or ceramic. They are also made of carbon fiber and graphite-plastic composite. These materials allow the player to have better control of the shuttlecock defensively, and generate more power while smashing. The strings are made up of either synthetic or natural material. Natural strings are made up of pig gut, and give better control and feel, but are expensive and are less durable.
Also known as the birdie, it is the projectile that is used in shot exchange when playing badminton. It is conical in shape, and is open on one side. The base consists of the cork, which is covered with a layer of leather. Feathers, usually belonging to a duck or goose, are embedded in the cork. The feathers give the aerodynamic quality to the birdie. However, with the advancement of the game, shots have become increasingly powerful, and rallies have become longer. This results in damage to the shuttlecock, where it breaks after 2-3 rallies. Hence, shuttlecock manufacturers make them with nylon skirts instead of feathers. This makes the birdies more durable, and hence, last longer.
Serve or Service
During service, opponents stand in diagonally opposite service courts. The server then hits the shuttlecock in the opponent's service court. The service requires the server to hit the shuttlecock below waist-height, with the racket-head pointing down.
Service Court
The bounded area of the court, where, after service, the shuttlecock is allowed to land, is termed as the service court. The service court is different for singles and doubles. If the shuttlecock lands anywhere outside the service area, it is a fault or a wrong serve.
Short Service Line
The line which is 1.98 meter away from the net, is the short service line. The serve must reach beyond this line to be legal. If the service fall short of this line, it is a wrong serve or a fault.
A match is nothing but the number of games played to decide a winner.
The court is the area where the game is played, and is defined by the outer boundary lines.
Center Line
It is that line which runs perpendicular to the net. It is also a line that divides the right and left service courts.
Long Service Line
At the end of the court, there are two lines in each half. In doubles, the line on the inside determines the end of the court, i.e., doubles long service line. In singles, out of these two lines, the one on the outside determines the end of the court, that is the singles long service line. This means, for serves, the court length for singles is longer than that of doubles by 0.76 meters.
The forecourt is the area between the net and the short service line. This is the area of the court where the drop shots usually land.
Mid court
The mid court is the section of the court which is halfway between the boundary line at the back and the net. Smashes are aimed at the extremities of this part of the court.
The area between the parallel lines on either side of a badminton court is known as the alley. This is also known as the third court. This area is where a lob, drive, or a long serve usually lands. This area of the court is also called a back alley by badminton players.
A clear is a shot which is struck in such a way that it goes deep into the opponent's court. This shot is also known as a toss. This shot is usually accompanied with height, so that the player who has hit it, has sufficient time to recover his position.
When a player hits the shuttle low and fast, so that it goes horizontally just over the net, it is called a drive.
It's a shot wherein the player hits the shuttle in such a way, that it falls close to the net on the opponent's side.
A flick is used in serving, and when playing defensive shots. There is a sudden movement in the wrists along with the forearm movement, which converts a short serve into a long one. Hence, this helps in deception. This shot is also used when the player is retrieving a drop shot. Here, the player might feign a drop shot, and instead, with a flick hit a lob instead.
Hairpin Net Shot
A hairpin net shot has two versions. One is the serve version, where the server hits the shuttle from a low height. Here, the shuttlecock just clears the net, and lands just beyond the short service line. In the other version, the player hit the shuttle so that it lands just inside the opponent's court, barely clearing the net. The risk while attempting this shot is that the shuttle may fail to clear the net, because of the tight hairpin-like trajectory.
Half Court Shot
A half court shot is one wherein a player who serves, hits and directs the shuttlecock so that it goes towards the middle of the court.
Push Shot
A push shot is one wherein a serving player gently pushes the shuttle with a slight wrist movement. This shot is usually played from the mid court or the net to the mid court of the opponent.
When the players hit the shuttlecock back and forth a number of times, before one of the players scores a point, is called a rally.
The Court Area
The area of a badminton court is 13.4 meters long, 6.1 meters wide, and is rectangular in shape. While playing doubles, the complete court width is used. This width is reduced to 5.18 meters while playing singles. The service area is indicated by the horizontal lines near the net, which are present on both sides of the court. At the centermost point of this horizontal line, a vertical line starts, which ends at the back of the court. As a result, the service area is split into two blocks.
There are two horizontal lines at the back of the court which represent the outer bounds for a singles serve or a doubles serve. The line which is closer, points to the service area during a doubles match, whereas, the line which is furthest, points to the serving area during a singles match. The net is hung at a height of 1.55 meters at the center of the court, and is attached to two poles on either side of the court.
The Scoring Pattern
In a game of badminton, the aim of the players is to win a fixed number of games, usually, it's a best of three match. Each game is played till a side reaches 21 points first. Each time a rally is won by a particular side, points are scored and they get the right to serve. The side which reaches 21 points first, wins the game.
A game must be won with a difference of at least two points. In case the score is tied at 20-20, it's called a deuce. The game continues until a side gets a two point advantage.
The Serving Pattern
In badminton, a player while serving, must strike at the base of the shuttlecock in one stroke, and the racket-head should point down. The foot of neither the serving player nor the receiving player should go off the ground, till the service has been completed. If the serve is a fault, it results in a change of serve, and also awards a point to the receiver. Unlike lawn tennis, there are no double faults in badminton.
Thus, badminton is a game that requires you to be agile and flexible, and once you master the skills and techniques of the game, you will not only enjoy playing it, but also gain good health and fitness.
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