Badminton, like many sports, is played at many levels of skill and ability. The recreational version of this game is easy to learn. The rules are not complicated. Badminton does not even require a lot of equipment. With a few rackets, a shuttle and a net with supports, you are ready to go.
To play recreational badminton you only need a few basic skills--a forehand, a backhand and a serve. At the professional level, there are several variations and ways to hit these shots. The pros even have a repertoire of trick shots during match play. However, at the recreational level, you do need to be able to start a point with a serve, hitting the shuttle, or "birdie" over the net and into the proper area of the opponent's court. Being able to maintain a rally of hitting the shuttle back and forth over the net with either a forehand stroke or a backhand stroke until a point is awarded is necessary.
Two fundamental serves used are the low and high serve. The low serve is gently hit low over the net and designed to land at the front of the receiver's service court. This serve is used more in doubles play. The high serve is hit with a lot of force, high over the net so that it falls downward and vertically in the back of the opponent's service court. This serve is used more in singles play.
One of the most important fundamental strokes to learn is the clear. This shot can be hit with either the forehand or backhand. The underhand clear is used to return a low shuttle. The overhead clear is probably used more than any other stroke in badminton. With this stroke, the shuttle travels high and deep and keeps your opponent in the back of the court. Being able to hit a smash shot is also useful. This is when you hit the shuttle in a downward direction over the net in an attempt to end the point quickly.
According to the Badminton World Federation (BWF), a server must start the serve standing behind the baseline and some part of both feet must be in contact with the court until the racket hits the shuttle. The delivery of the serve must be an underhand stoke, and the shuttle and racket head must be below the server's waist at contact. The serve can be hit with a forehand or a backhand. Only one attempt of a serve is allowed. The serve is hit diagonally cross-court from right to left when the server's score is even and from left to right when the server's score is odd. If the receiver loses the point, the server continues to serve. If the receiver wins the point, he becomes the new server. The shuttle cannot touch the net on the serve.
During match play, at no time can a player break the plane of the net to hit the shuttle. The rules state that no part of the player's racket, body or clothing can touch the net during a point. If the shuttle lands on the line during play, it is considered to be in bounds. The shuttle is not allowed to touch the ceiling or walls if playing indoors. During play, once the shuttle touches the court within the lines, if is no longer in play and a point is awarded to the player who just hit it.
Typically, a badminton match is the best of two-out-of-three games and played until one side has won 21 points. A game that is tied at 20 continues to play until one side has scored two consecutive points. If the score is tied at 29, only one more point will be played to determine which side wins the game. Unlike tennis, a point is scored on every serve.