Badminton Glossary


Alley: The 18-inch section of the badminton court between singles and doubles sidelines.

Around-the-head shot: An advanced shot where a player reaches around the head to his backhand side to strike the shuttle with the forehand. This often leaves the player off-balanced and vulnerable.

Attacking (Driving) clear: A variation of a clear shot achieved by driving the bird harder and with a flatter trajectory.


Back alley: The area on both ends of the court between the singles and doubles service line.

Backcourt: The back third portion of the court around the long-service lines.

Backhand: A basic shot where a player reaches to his non-dominant side and strikes the shuttle with the backside of the racquet. This is generally the weakest shot by a player and is taken with his back facing the net.

Backhand grip: There are many variations of the backhand grip, but it is essentially a change in grip to help a player strike the shuttle with his backhand.

Balk (Feint): A serve that deceives an opponent and usually results in a poor return.

Base (Center) position: Sometimes referred to as the home or center position, this is the spot a player returns to after striking the shuttle.

Baseline: The back line at both ends of the court that runs parallel to the net.

Bird (Birdie): Commonly used name for the shuttlecock.

Block: A quick return of either a smash or a drive that requires a small, swift flick of the wrist to drop the shuttle just over the net.


Carry: An illegal shot where the shuttle is caught, held on to, and then slung during the execution of a stroke.

Center line: The line that runs through the middle of the court and perpendicular to the net separating the service courts.

Clear: A basic shot where a player contacts the bird high and arches it over the opponent toward the other baseline.

Cork: The head of the shuttle that is made of cork.

Court: The overall area of play defined by the outer boundaries.

Cross-court shot: Any shot that crosses the center line. Cross-court can be prefixed for any basic shot.


Doubles: A mode of playing in which one team of two players competes against another team of two players.

Drive: A basic shot where a player contacts the shuttle around head or shoulder height and propels the shuttle hard and with a flat trajectory.

Drop: A basic shot where a player uses finesse to pass the shuttle low over the net. The shot typically lands before the short-service line.


Event: The disciplines in which a player can compete in tournament play. The standard events are men’s/women’s singles, men’s/women’s doubles, and mixed Doubles.


Fast drop: A variation of a drop shot that has a player strike the shuttle harder to give the opponent less time to react. The resulting shot will have a flatter trajectory, causing the shuttle to land farther from the net.

Fault: A violation of rules during play.

Feather shuttle: A type of shuttle with a skirt comprised of feathers.

Flick: A swift rotation of the forearm and wrist used to generate lots of power in a short amount of time. This technique is often used to disguise fast, deep shots as slow drop shots.

Flick serve: An advanced service shot taken from the backhand position and arched over the opponent toward the long-service line. This shot requires a developed forearm and wrist to generate the power and quickness to catch the receiver off guard.

Flight: The difficulty or skill level of an event in a tournament usually designated by the letters A, B, C and D, with A being the most-advanced level.

Foot fault: A service fault made by a player in which he oversteps the boundary of the service court.

Forecourt: The front third portion of the court around the short-service lines.

Forehand (Handshake) grip: The standard grip used for most forehand shots, sometimes referred to as the “handshake” grip because of its likeness to “shaking hands” with the racquet.

Frame: The portion of the racquet that outlines the head and secures the strings.

Frame shot (Dink): Any shot that has a player contact the shuttle with the frame of the racquet.

Front-back: The attacking position in doubles where both players are in the middle with one in the fore-to-midcourt and the other in the backcourt.

Funky doubles: A term used to designate a less constricting form of doubles play offered in some tournaments. In general, this event allows for any combination of skill levels and genders with a few exceptions defined by each tournament.


Game (“Point”): Either word should be announced, out of courtesy, when serving for a game-winning point.

Game (Set): A 21-point series with a required two-point margin of victory. If a game goes past 21 points it ends when one team either goes up by two points or reaches 30.

Grip: The material over the handle of racquet that can be changed for better comfort and control.


Hairpin net shot: A variation of a net drop that has a trajectory similar to that of a hairpin. The shuttle is contacted low and hugs the net on both sides to create an equally difficult shot for the opponent.

Half-court shot: A shot directed at midcourt and normally achieved with a drop or drive.

Handle: The end portion of a racquet, opposite the head, where a player takes hold.

Head: The portion of the racquet that is comprised of the frame and the strings.

High clear: A variation of a clear shot that arches high toward the opponent’s baseline. This shot is intended to allow a team or player to reset defensively or to disrupt the opponent’s timing.


Interval (Break): A 60-second period of rest that occurs when the score reaches 11 for the first time in a game. There is also a 120-second break in between games. Players are permitted to leave the court during this time.


Jump smash: An advanced shot where a player is airborne while smashing the shuttle.


Kill: A quick, downward shot that ends a rally.


Let: A legitimate stoppage of play that allows a rally to be replayed.

Lift: A variation of a clear shot that is produced by an underhand stroke and arched high to allow time for better defensive positioning.

Line judge: A pre-approved, unbiased individual responsible for determining whether or not shots land inside of the boundaries.

Long-service line: The back line for singles matches or the line 2.5 feet inwards for doubles matches. Serves may not land past these lines for the corresponding games.

Lunge: A vital part of footwork that has a player reach with his racquet-side leg to strike the shuttle.


Match: Comprised of a best two-out-of-three-games format in tournament play.

Match (“Point”): Either word should be announced, out of courtesy, when serving for a match-winning point.

Men’s doubles: A match comprised of two teams with two male players on each team.

Midcourt: The middle third portion of the court in between the short-service and long-service lines.

Mixed doubles: A match comprised of two teams with one male and one female player on each team.


Net: The piece of equipment held up by two poles and used to separate teams on each side.

Net drop: A basic shot where a player simultaneously receives a drop shot and returns one.

Net fault: When any player touches the net with his racquet, body, or apparel during play.


Overhand shot: Any shot taken with a downward arm and wrist motion.


Panhandle grip: A variation of the natural grip in which the palm is facing the fat part of the handle with the thumb and fingers grasping the thinner sides. This grip is normally used for drive shots and allows greater range with forehand drives.

Passing shot: Any shot that passes behind an opponent and forces him to reach back to return the shot.

Plastic shuttle: A type of shuttle with a skirt made of plastic.

Push shot: An overhand shot taken in the mid or forecourt and directed toward the opponent’s mid or backcourt. The shot is either a drive or drop relying on its quick return rather than its power.


Racquet: The piece of equipment used to strike the shuttle. A racquet is comprised of a racquet head, strings, a t-joint, a shaft, and a handle. Racquets can be made of wood, steel, and titanium, but are commonly made with carbon fiber/graphite.

Rally: The series of shots that takes place between service and the end of play.

Rally-scoring: The manner of scoring in which a point is awarded for every rally.

Rotation: The movement or interaction that allows doubles partners to attack or defend effectively as a team.


Scorekeeper: A pre-approved, unbiased individual who is responsible for scoring a match.

Serve (Service): The shot that starts a rally.

Service court: The area in which a serve is legally allowed to land. The singles service court is longer and narrower, while the doubles service court is shorter and wider.

Service fault: Any violation or illegal tactic that occurs during service for either team.

Service judge: A pre-approved, unbiased individual who is responsible for calling service faults.

Short-service line: The service line that is closest to the net and runs parallel to it.

Shuffle (Skip): A primary part of footwork technique that has a player slide his feet to move around the court.

Shuttlecock (Shuttle): The object that is hit back and forth in badminton.

Side-by-side: The defensive doubles position where both players are at midcourt and on either side of the center line.

Singles: A mode of playing with one player on each side. The court is defined by the inner sideline and baseline.

Skirt: The part of the shuttle that is either plastic or feather and fans out like a skirt.

Slice: An advanced shot that is achieved by contacting the shuttle with the racquet head at an angle noticeably different than the path of the shuttle. This “slicing” motion is sometimes used to create misdirection to trick the opponent.

Smash: A basic shot where the shuttle is contacted high and directed downward at a sharp angle with immense speed. This shot is typically steeper than a drive shot.

Strings: The thin, synthetic pieces of material that are weaved through the frame and used to propel the shuttle.


Throat (T-joint): The section of the racquet that connects the head to the shaft. Older, lower-end models typically have a visibly separate t-joint, while newer, higher-end models incorporate it into the racquet.

Tumble drop shot: A variation of a drop shot that causes the shuttle to flip, end over end. This maneuver makes the shuttle more difficult for the opponent to return.


Underhand: Any shot taken with an upward arm and wrist motion.

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