Home2020The Evolution of the Badminton Scoring System

The Evolution of the Badminton Scoring System



The Evolution of the Badminton Scoring System


Badminton, just like any other sport, has gone through a series of changes over the years. This is a result of the constant evolution of the game, the people, the culture and the society that we live in. All of these things affect the way in which sports evolve.


The badminton scoring we are familiar with now, is not the same as it was 20 years ago, and more so 100 years ago. It has gone through shifts with the changes of the times. Let’s take a quick look at the history of the badminton scoring system.


The Beginning


When badminton was first created in the late 1800’s, around the 1870’s in India, the scoring system was also created. Here, a 15 points system was introduced to the newly created sport along with all of the rules. The 15 point system for the men had 15 points per set in a best of 3. The ladies on the other hand, played in a 11 point system instead of the full 15. 


To begin, the first serve is determined by a “coin toss”. In a singles match, if the server loses a rally, the service would be transferred to the opponent. If the server wins a rally, their score is increased by a point. In doubles, if the server loses a rally, the serve would be given to their partner, giving the team a second chance at gaining a point (the second server). If they lose again, it is then transferred to the opposite side. If they win, they gain a point. 


The most interesting rule however, was when a match reaches 13-all in a 15 point game. If the player that reaches 13 points first, they have an option of “setting” the game or going for the win for playing 15. If they choose to “set” then the scoreline goes back to 0-0 and whoever gets 5 points first wins. If the score is 14-all, then the first player reaching 14 would also have the chance to “set” or play through 15 points. 


The Change


The 15 point system was used for a very long time. However, there was a change in 2002. As the sport was growing even more popular world wide, the running time of matches became a concern for the Badminton World Federation (BWF), especially when it comes to the global appeal of the sport. Because of this, they changed it to a ‘best of 5’ game, where the player who gets 7 points first wins. If it reaches 6-all, then the player can choose to play 8 or 7 points.


Unfortunately, even with this new system, the runtime remained an issue. This point system was last seen in the 2002 Commonwealth Games. 


The Present


In December of 2005, BWF changed the system again in order to help control the run time of games and the sport’s appeal to the world. The ‘service-over’ rule was removed and this drastically changed the overall dynamic of the sport. It now adapted a ‘rally point’ system, where the winner of the rally will gain a point regardless of who served. The game was increased to 21 points (best of 3) and the women’s singles matches now have the same rules as the men’s. In the case of 20-20, the first player to lead by 2 points will win. The highest the game can go is up to 30 points. The rule was officially adopted in August of 2006, until now. 


The changes in the points system are the marks of evolution in badminton. There are a variety of reasons for these changes, ranging from the physical aspects such as practicality and ease of the sport, to changes made based on increasing the accessibility of badminton to a much more wider audience. In addition, from initially having a different scoring system in men’s and women’s games to having it be the same, this highlights a shift in society in terms of gender equality. 


These rules have been contested and tried; some to greater success than others. But these changes have always been about making badminton, a sport for everybody.



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