Badminton Etiquette

It wouldn’t be uncommon to find yourself a bit anxious when you walk into a gym full of badminton players. You might explore a little deeper only to find yourself stepping on the court and having a player bark at you for interrupting his game. Your initial thought might be to turn around and leave because everyone seems so caught up with their own thing. The key in this situation is to not get discouraged.

Like all sports, badminton has rules (both written and unwritten) that everyone must follow. It’s imperative to take these rules to heart, because they help ensure the safety of everyone in the gym. This guide will help you understand each detail and provide instruction on the exact way you need to act and carry yourself if you want to have a fun and friendly experience on the court.

Respect the Court

First, you must remember to always be mindful of players on other courts so you don’t interfere with their game. Badminton is often played in multi-purpose gyms with volleyball and basketball lines running rampant, so it may be difficult to pick out the correct boundaries of your playing surface. If you’re walking across the gym floor toward the badminton court and are uncertain about the boundaries, simply wait for play of the other games to stop and then stay close to the walls as you make your way past the court.

Hot Tip: The Single Life

If you’re looking to play a game of singles, you’ll be hard-pressed to find the court space or the players willing to play. Your best bet would be to go during off-peak hours so that you’re at least guaranteed the court space.

Use It Before You Lose It

As a general rule, four players should occupy a single court at all times. If you go to a gym with a friend and there is a court with only two people hitting around, just ask to use half of the court and they’ll be more than happy to oblige. Waiting around for a completely empty court will be nerve-wracking. The court is there for you to use, but don’t be afraid to share with others. If you arrive at a gym alone, just find someone sitting on the side to hit with, because they’re probably just as eager to play. In the event that all the courts are full, wait for the rally to end and ask the folks on the court if you can get in on the next game.

Manage Court Time

Easily the most common annoyance when playing in a crowded gym is the lack of court time. When there is limited court space, remember to play a game or rally in a timely manner. Sometimes, players on a court will rally or “hit around” for an extended period of time with no intention of playing a game. It’s a delicate science trying to coax people off a court who have overstayed their welcome. Normally, players will warm up for about five minutes and play a 10-minute set to keep the rotation of players going. If you’re planning to just hit around, try to limit your court time to 20 minutes.

Court Rotation

Typically, players on a court will have an idea of who is playing the next game. Simply wait for the rally to end and ask to play next. They’ll likely inform you if there are any teams set to play before you. Either way, you should at least get your name in the rotation. Some places insist that a team bows out after three consecutive wins, but ultimately, it is your decision.

Look Out for Others

When you’re playing on the court, you have an even greater responsibility to be mindful of other players, as serious harm can come from swinging your racket carelessly. As a new rally begins, check your opponent’s surroundings, as they will be doing the same for you – at least they should be. Sometimes a shuttlecock or person from a neighboring court may stray onto yours, so it’s important to clear the area before resuming play.


When it’s your turn to serve, call out the overall team score starting with your score and following with your opponent’s score. This helps avoid confusion throughout the match. For example, if you have 14 points and your opponent has 10, say: “14-10.” Also, when serving, check to make sure your opponent is ready to receive service before you begin.

During play, you should excuse yourself for any shot that accidentally falls in your favor, like a frame shot that tumbles over the net. You don’t need to verbally apologize, but at least gesture with your hand to excuse yourself. After play stops, return the shuttlecock to your opponent whenever it’s appropriate. At the end of the game, players typically high-five and thank the opposition to show their appreciation.

Common Courtesy

In the end, badminton is really just about being respectful, courteous, and aware. If you’re aware of your surroundings and other players at all times, then it will be a more enjoyable experience for everyone!

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