Faults During the Rally

Hitting the shuttle to the wrong place

13.3: [It shall be a fault] if in play, the shuttle:
13.3.1: lands outside the boundaries of the court (i.e. not on or within the boundary lines);
13.3.2: passes through or under the net;
13.3.3: fails to pass over the net;

These are fairly obvious. Your shot must travel over the net, not underneath, around, or through it; and it must land inside your opponent’s court (unless he hits it back).

If the shuttle lands on the line, it’s in.

Only the first contact between the shuttle and the floor counts. Shuttles often hit the line and then bounce out; this counts as in.

Note that the shuttle can travel around the outside of the post.  This is of course unlikely if the posts are positioned correctly but it is still possible.


When the shuttle touches something before reaching the floor

13.3: [It shall be a fault] if in play, the shuttle:
13.3.4: touches the ceiling or side walls;
13.3.5: touches the person or dress of a player;
13.3.6: touches any other object or person outside the court;

(Where necessary on account of the structure of the building, the local badminton authority may, subject to the right of veto of its Member Association, make bye-laws dealing with cases in which a shuttle touches an obstruction.)

You lose the rally if you hit the shuttle into the ceiling or walls. You also lose the rally if the shuttle touches you or your clothing (regardless of whether you are standing in or out of the court).

The last rule is just a stuffy way of acknowledging that many badminton courts are not perfect. For example, many courts have beams or girders crossing low above them. Most clubs decide to play a let when the shuttle hits a beam. This is standard practice, and I recommend it.

You cannot claim a let for hitting the ceiling, however. Otherwise, whenever you were losing the rally, you could just hit the shuttle up to the ceiling and start again!

Surprisingly, the rules do not specify a minimum ceiling height. Playing badminton with a low ceiling ruins the game, as it makes defensive shots ineffective. In practice, all major tournaments use very high ceilings, but some local or regional venues do not.


Double hits

13.3: [It shall be a fault] if in play, the shuttle:
13.3.7: is caught and held on the racket and then slung during the execution of a stroke;
13.3.8: is hit twice in succession by the same player. However, a shuttle hitting the head and the stringed area of the racket in one stroke shall not be a fault;
13.3.9: is hit by a player and the player’s partner successively;

With a little practice, it’s possible to catch the shuttle with your racket, using a scooping motion. For obvious reasons, you’re not allowed to do this during a rally.

Similarly, you may not hit the shuttle twice, on your own or with a partner — for example, first hitting it up above net height, and then smashing it down!

Note that a bad contact is not a fault. Many players, especially older ones, call no shot when they have made a bad contact — either hitting just the frame, or hitting both the frame and the strings.

This is not a fault, and the rally should continue.


Hitting the net or invading the opponent’s court

13.4: [It shall be a fault] if in play, a player:
13.4.1: touches the net or its support with racket, person or dress;
13.4.2: invades an opponent’s court over the net with racket or person except that the striker may follow the shuttle over the net with the racket in the course of a stroke after the initial point of contact with the shuttle is on the striker’s side of the net;
13.4.3: invades an opponent’s court under the net with racket or person such that an opponent is obstructed or distracted;

If you touch the net or the posts, you lose the rally. This commonly happens with net kills: if the shuttle is tight to the net, it can be hard to play a net kill without hitting the net with your racket.

You are not allowed to reach over the net to play your shot. Provided you make contact with the shuttle on your side, however, your racket may then pass over the net during your follow-through action.

It’s hard to be sure what the rules intend for edge cases, such as a tight brush net kill where the contact point is on your side but the top of your racket is intruding (just slightly) over the net. Even in officiated tournaments, these calls are made by eye, without the aid of video replays or electronic sensors (although video replays are sometimes used when the call is disputed). In practice, the court officials have a hard enough time judging whether the contact point was okay. To spot these edge cases accurately is beyond human ability.

In other words, I wouldn’t worry about it. Just make sure that you contact the shuttle on your side.
When lunging forwards to retrieve a tight drop or net shot, players often put a foot under the net. This is not a fault unless you obstruct or distract the opponent — for example, by treading on his foot!


Obstructions and distractions

13.4: [It shall be a fault] if in play, a player:
13.4.4: obstructs an opponent, i.e. prevents an opponent from making a legal stroke where the shuttle is followed over the net;
13.4.5: deliberately distracts an opponent by any action such as shouting or making gestures;

Remember that you are allowed to follow-through with your racket over the net, providing you made contact on your side. If your opponent obstructs this — such as putting his racket in the way so that you would be forced to hit it — then you win the rally.

Note that your opponent is allowed to put his racket in the path of the shuttle. He is not allowed to block your stroke, but he is allowed to block your shot. It’s a subtle distinction: your stroke is the movement of your racket; your shot is the movement of the shuttle.

Deliberate distractions are not allowed. There’s a fine line here: the rule does not prohibit shouting (e.g. when you smash) or expressing yourself through gestures (e.g. a clenched fist after winning a point); but it does prohibit using these to distract your opponent.