In August 2006, the Badminton World Federation, or BWF, changed the laws of badminton in order to add extra excitement to the game. The rule changes were designed to regulate the duration of each match and make the sport more appealing for television audiences. All court measurements and equipment laws have remained unchanged, as have the basic playing methods. The main changes have been to the scoring system.
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As with the former rules of badminton, you have to win two out of three games to win a match. However, the traditional 15 points format has now been replaced with a 21 points format. Before the rule changes, each game would be won by the first player to score 15 points, or 11 points for women. The new rules state that the first player to score 21 points will win each game. This rule applies for both men and women.
The new scoring system has not lengthened the duration of each match. Due to the new points system, the game now flows more rapidly. Points used to be won only on the serve, meaning that the receiving player had to break his opponent’s serve in order to win the right to serve and therefore score points. The new rules have introduced what is known as a “rally scoring system.” A player or team can now win a point in any rally, regardless of who served.
The 21 point format has also brought in new laws for tied games. According to the official Badminton World Federation Laws of Badminton, “If the score becomes 20-all, the side which gains a two point lead first, shall win that game.” If the score becomes 29-all, the player or team to score the 30th point will win the game.
Due to changes in the points scoring system, players now receive a 60-second break when one side reaches 11 points. All players get a two-minute break between each game.
All of the new rules also apply to doubles matches. An additional change has been introduced into the doubles serving system. As stated by the BBC Sport website, “A team now has only one serve in doubles, rather than two under the old rules.”
The new badminton rules have reduced the playing time needed to complete a full match. According to the Badminton Information website, it was not uncommon for an old format match to last for two hours. The new rules have reduced the average match time to about an hour. The rally scoring system has also changed the tactical nature of the game. As the Badminton Information website states, “Avoiding making unforced errors is crucial here because every rally counts.”