Service Rules Showdown: Comparing Badminton and Tennis

Badminton player serving
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Last Updated on 14/10/2023 by Kriss

Ever wondered why a badminton serve isn’t smashed from above the head like in tennis? While the two games share a lot of things in common, the serve differs quite a bit. But one thing is clear: the service rules in badminton and tennis play pivotal roles in these games.

Today we’ll unravel the similarities, differences, and strategies behind these two racket sports and their serves.

Understanding the Basics of Service in Badminton and Tennis

Serving, a pivotal moment in both badminton and tennis, sets the pace for each rally. This is when players have the opportunity to craft how their rally begins.

In badminton, service rules are precise but allow creativity. Players serve diagonally across the net from a stationary position inside their respective service courts. Importantly, the contact point with the shuttle must remain below 1.15m. This means that you have to lift the shuttle since the net is 1.52m high.

On the other hand, tennis serving rules let players toss up and smack down that ball with full force. They can do a fast flat serve or a smooth underhand or slice serve, all while standing behind their baseline. Just like badminton, you need to hit diagonally inside the serve box.

We’re going to delve deeper into these unique features next because understanding them helps us appreciate the nuances that set badminton and tennis apart.

Serving Rules in Badminton

Badminton service rules are pretty easy. Let’s kick off with the basics: Badminton players must keep both feet stationary during the serve. It may appear easy, but this can be tricky if you are a beginner.

The server must strike from below 1.15m (used to be waist height) – no overhead smashes here. You are not allowed to slice the shuttle to give it a spin or pre-spin the shuttle. You need to hit it straight with one motion. That also means there are no fake moves or stopping with your racket while serving.

Also read: The New Revolutionary Spin Serve in Badminton

Doubles vs. Singles Serves

The court dimensions are slightly different and so are the serves. In pro play, you will mostly see short serves in both disciplines since no player wants to give the opponent the attack for free. But once you step down a bit, a long serve is pretty common in singles. Some pro-woman singles players still prefer the long serve. In doubles, the long serve is almost always used as a surprise and very very rare.

Service are in singles and doubles
Service area in singles and doubles

Badminton Service Faults

A fault occurs if the shuttle touches any part of your body or clothing before landing inside or outside designated areas. You are also not allowed to throw the shuttle up in the air like you can do in tennis.

As we said before: Your serve needs to be one smooth motion without any stopping or reswinging with the racket.

It is also a fault if you lift your feet, stand on the line or outside your serving box.

These may seem overwhelming, but actually all these rules are pretty easy to follow. However, sometimes you can have a very strict service judge like the one in this video.

Serving Rules in Tennis

The server must always start from behind the baseline. The service motion begins with tossing the ball into the air and hitting it before it touches the ground. You feet also need to be stationary and you are not allowed to run or jump during the serve.

A legal serve requires that players hit diagonally across to their opponent’s corresponding service box. If not, it’s called a fault.

If you commit two faults consecutively (double fault), your opponent gets a point. So, precision and consistency are key.

Tennis player during a serve.

If the ball touches the net, you can repeat the serve “for free”. It is not a fault and this is called a “let”.

Service Order and Rotation

In tennis, serving rotates between players after every game—not each point like badminton—and changes sides of the court every odd number of games played.

This means if you served first this game on the right side (deuce court), next time you’ll be on the left side (advantage court). Keeps things interesting.

Serve Styles Matter Too

Tennis gives more freedom for different serve styles compared to badminton—flat hard serves or slow spinny slices are both valid options. It’s all about outsmarting your rival by varying speed and placement. Reading your opponents serve is vital in tennis, since you have so many different options.

You can check out all the different serve types explained here.

Comparing Serving Rules Between Badminton and Tennis

Although badminton and tennis are two different racket sports, they have some overlapping rules, but many others differ.

In badminton, players do short backhand serves with a lot of precision.

Tennis, on the flip side, has its own unique serving rules. Players can toss up and smash down serves at high speeds – sometimes even reaching upwards of 163mph or 263kph (source).

Here are the serving rules both sports have in common:

  • Serving diagonally is required in both sports.
  • Failing to deliver a correct serve results in points for your opponent.
  • Both have serving boxes for doubles and singles

All this talk about rules might sound daunting because no one wants penalties raining on their parade when they’re ready to score big points. So here’s our golden rule: Just go out and have fun, and all the rules will follow naturally.

Contrasting Serving Rules Between Badminton and Tennis

Badminton and tennis, while similar in some ways, have serving rules that set them apart. Let’s explore these differences.

Serving Rule 1: Positioning

In badminton, you must stand within your service court, whereas in tennis, you should stand behind the baseline (basically behind the court).

Serving Rule 2: Overhead Motion

Tennis serves are known for their big overhead motion. On the other hand, badminton serves require an underarm hitting action because of the 1.15m limit.

Serving Rule 3: Scoring Opportunities

A significant difference between these two sports lies in scoring opportunities during service play. In tennis, players get two chances to make a valid serve, whereas in badminton, there’s only one shot.

Serving Rule 4: Touching The Net

In badminton, the shuttle can touch the net. It is not a fault or let as long as it still lands inside the opponents serving box. In tennis, touching the net during the serve is a ‘let’. This means it is not a fault, but also not a legal serve. The server simply gets another try.

Serving Rule 5: When To Serve

In badminton, you serve each time you win a point and retain the serve as long as you continue scoring. If you lose a point, the serve shifts to your opponent. In tennis, you have the serve for a whole game before switching sides no matter if you win or lose a point.

Impact of Serving Rules on Gameplay

Serving rules greatly shape how games are played, both in badminton and tennis. In badminton, for instance, the low serve rule encourages strategic placement over raw power. Players aim to barely clear the net and land within the service court lines. This opens up a tactical game where precision is king.

Tennis players get more leeway with serves. They can blast their first serve with all their might since they have a second chance if it fails.

Having the serve in tennis is a big advantage. You can see on this page here, that even the worst player on this list wins 75% of the games where he has the serve. This is very different in badminton. In singles, the distribution of points won with and without the serve are pretty much the same at 50%. In doubles, you even have a disadvantage – only winning about 47% of your serves (source).


Well, there you have it…

We’ve dived deep to compare and contrast the service rules in badminton and tennis. You should now understand that these rules aren’t just about hitting a shuttlecock or ball over the net.

The specific serving styles matter… They shape unique gameplay strategies and define player techniques. Both tennis and badminton are great racket sports, and the serve is arguably one of the most important shots in both games – if not the most important one.

Happy Playing!

FAQs in Relation to Compare and Contrast the Service Rules in Badminton and Tennis

Can we serve badminton like a tennis?

No, you can’t. Tennis serves are overhead, but in badminton, the serve must be underarm and below 1.15m.

How do you serve in badminton?

In badminton, start with your racket foot forward. The shuttle should be hit from below waist height or maximum of 1.15m with an underhand stroke.

What is the difference between badminton and a tennis?

The main difference lies in their balls: a shuttlecock for badminton and a solid ball for tennis. Plus, they have different court sizes and rules.

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