Learn to speak badminton like a pro in English. Here’s a list of the essential badminton vocabulary in English. Admittedly we’ve left out some of the most obvious terms. See more badminton tips here
Time needed: 5 minutes
Read all terms a couple of times and you’ll soon be using badminton lingo like a pro.
- Baseline – badminton court term. Is also known as the back boundary line
The baseline is the back boundary line at each end of the court. It runs parallel to the net. Placing the shuttlecock directly at the baseline is really good. The illustration below indicates measurements in meters, centimeters, and millimeters.
- Bird or birdie
The bird or birdie is another name for the shuttlecock. Some people also refer to the birdie as the ball or the shuttle.
To carry the shuttle is also referred to as a sling or throw, in which the shuttle is caught and held on the racket and then slung during the execution of a stroke. And that’s a fault in badminton. If you carry the shuttle, a point is awarded to your opponent.
- Centre line (or center line)
That’s the line perpendicular to the net. It separates the left and right service courts. (see illustration under baseline)
That’s a basic badminton shot. A clear is when you hit the shuttle deep into the opponent’s backcourt. Being able to clear from your own backcourt to the opponent’s backcourt is very important. If your clear shot is too short, your opponent is given an (easy) opportunity to attack.
A drive is a fast and low shot that makes a horizontal flight over the net. If played correctly it will force your opponent to hit an upward return, giving you an immediate opportunity to attack.
Most often a shot hit smoothly and with finesse to fall close to the net on the opponent’s side. But can also be a fast drop shot, which travels down steeply, but is faster, and therefore lands further from the net. If your opponent is using deception drop shots, it can be quite tricky to read. Check our YouTube Channel for tips
A violation of the playing rules, either in serving, receiving, or during play. If you watch badminton live or on TV, you’ll often hear the referee call out “fault” when a player fails to return the birdie to the opposing player’s side.
- Flick (most often flick serve)
A quick wrist and forearm rotation that might surprise your opponent by changing an apparently soft shot into a faster passing one. It is also part of the many deception shots. Often used when serving and at the net.
The front third of the badminton court, between the net and the short service line. A good place to be if your technique is really good.
- Hairpin net shot
Shot made from below and very close to the net with the shuttle rising, just clearing the net, and then dropping sharply down the other side. The shuttle’s flight approximates the shape of a hairpin. Lots of players apologize if the shuttlecock touches the net before it lands on the opponent’s side. Check our YouTube Channel for tips
- Halfcourt Shot
A shot hit low and to midcourt, used effectively in doubles against the up-and-back formation.
A fast downward shot that cannot be returned; also referred to as a putaway.
A legitimate cessation of play to allow a rally to be replayed. Often happens if one player serves, and the opponent did not yet indicate they were ready to receive the serve.
- Long service line
In singles, the back boundary line. In doubles a line 2 l/2 feet inside the back boundary line. The serve may not go past this line. If it does, it is a fault – assuming, of course, that your opponent doesn’t hit it before it lands on the court 😉
- Love all (0-0)
One of the most beautiful phrases in badminton vocabulary. All games start with love all – meaning each side has 0 points.
A series of games to determine a winner. Typically a maximum of 3 games are played. A game is also referred to as a set in some languages. Each game is typically played to 21, although variations of the scoring system exist.
The middle third of the court, halfway between the net and the back boundary line. Subscribe to Badminton Speak to get more BadmintonSpeak.com tips
- Net shot
Shot hit from the forecourt that just clears the net and drops sharply. Check our YouTube Channel for tips on net shots
- Push shot (also known as put shot)
A gentle shot is executed by pushing the shuttle with little wrist motion, usually from the net or midcourt to the opponent’s midcourt.
This occurs when the players hit the bird back and forth several times before one side scores a point. Rallies are what make badminton so much fun for players at all levels. But make no mistake. Long rallies can be physically exhausting.
- Serve or service
Players put the shuttlecock into play for points by “serving” it to opponents, hitting it over the net into a special part of the court near their opponent. Mastering the serve in both singles and doubles is very important.
- Service Court
The area into which the serve (service) must be delivered. Different for singles and doubles play.
- Short Service Line
The line 6 l/2 feet from the net which a serve must reach to be legal
The name for the object that players hit – more commonly known as the birdie or the shuttle. The best ones are made of cork with a crown of feathers in an open conical shape.
When a shuttle is floated high into the air, a player has time to unleash a powerful overhand shot straight to the floor of the opposing court
- Wood Shot (or rim shot)
When the shuttle is hit by the frame of the racket, people refer to that as a wood shot. The name derives from the time when all racquets were made of wood. Interestingly a wood shot was illegal (a fault) until 1953.
Speak badminton in other languages
Many of the words in the badminton vocabulary listed on this page are different in other languages. In Danish, for example, a game is referred to as a set. In English, a match consists of several games, whereas in Danish it takes two sets to win a game. In Danish, the term for a coach is “træner”, which translates to “trainer”.
In the German language, the term for shuttlecock is “der Federball”, which translates roughly to “the feather ball”. A coach is referred to as “der trainer”, which translates to the trainer.