Must the racket head be fully or partially below the server’s waist during service?

by Jason


Question: Must the racket head be fully or partially below the server’s waist during service?

I only see a rule stating that the birdie must be under the waist during the contact with the racket, but not the racket head.

In the BWF 2011, I’ve looked at Lin Dan closely (lol), and his racket and shuttle is both slightly above his waist.

Hi Jason, thanks for your question.

Take note that the waist line referred by the BWF regulations is a relatively high point around your body.

Definition of “Waist Line” by BWF

It is common for people to think it is somewhere around the top of their pants.

To understand this issue, it’s good to first understand the definition of “waist line” set out by BWF.

As stated by the official badminton rules, the waist line is an “imaginary line somewhere around the lowest part of your bottom rib.

In most instances, the racket head will have to be below your waist upon contact with the birdie.

High Chance for Judges to Catch This Type of Service Fault

I highly doubt Lin Dan committed a service fault. The officials are usually trained to catch these type service faults.

Furthermore, the judges sit at a perfect location. It is easy for them to determine whether the birdie was hit from below or above the server’s waist line.

More Likely to Happen in Doubles

In a doubles game, the receiver usually stands nearer to the front to receive the service.

Therefore, the server will have to perform an extremely good service right above the net to prevent the receiver from smashing the shuttle downwards.

Fouls are usually committed during flick serves

If a doubles server decides to go for a flick serve, he/she will have to hit the shuttle high enough so that the receiver will be unable to intercept it.

The flick serve is good because the doubles’ receiver usually stands very near the net.

In contrast, if the flick serve is lifted too high, it gives the receiver enough time to move backwards to produce a full power smash.

Therefore when trying to perform the flick serve in doubles, the server usually commits a service fault. Why?

This is because they often try to make the shuttle land at the back of the receiver’s court as fast as possible. At the same time, they want to prevent it from being intercepted.

As a result, the flick serve somehow appears to look like a badminton drive, going straight towards the receiver.

This is unfair for the receiver if the service is hit like a drive.

This is what BWF was trying to prevent; to prevent a badminton service to appear like a drive.

Why it is Unlikely to Happen in Singles

In a singles game, the receiver normally stands around the centre of the court to receive the shuttle. Otherwise, the rear court will not be covered.

Therefore a singles server will not try serve in a flat trajectory (like a drive).

If he does that, the receiver has more than enough time to determine the flight direction of the shuttle; and then easily intercept it.

As such, service faults are less likely to happen in a singles game.


Service faults happen more often especially when a doubles player performs a flick serve.

From your perspective, a good way to see whether a service fault has been committed is to see whether the service looks like a drive; the shuttle shouldn’t fly horizontally towards the receiver.

If this is the case, a service fault is committed by the server.

Here are the official service rules stated by the BWF.

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