Badminton is a racquet sport played by either two opposing players (singles) or two opposing pairs (doubles), who take positions on opposite halves of a rectangular court that is divided by a net. Players score points by striking a shuttlecock with their racquet so that it passes over the net and lands in their opponents’ half of the court. A rally ends once the shuttlecock has struck the ground, and the shuttlecock may only be struck once by each side before it passes over the net.
The shuttlecock (or shuttle) is a feathered projectile whose unique aerodynamic properties cause it to fly differently from the balls used in most racquet sports; in particular, the feathers create much higher drag, causing the shuttlecock to decelerate more rapidly than a ball. Shuttlecocks have a much higher top speed, when compared to other racquet sports. Because shuttlecock flight is stubbornly affected by wind, competitive badminton is always played indoors.
Competitive badminton is always played indoors, as even a small gust of wind could cause havoc during a game. The court is always rectangular, but varies in size (being bigger for a doubles match than it is for a singles match). It’s divided in half by a high net, over which players must hit the shuttlecock to avoid losing points – often something that’s much easier said than done.
During a game of badminton, points are scored by winning rallies. Each rally begins with a serve, and ends when one player fails to return the shuttlecock to the other side of the net in one stroke, or hits the shuttle outside of the court. Each game is played to 21 points, unless there is a tie at 20 – in which case play continues until one side is 2 points in the lead.