The basic rule of whether a shuttle is considered ‘in’ or ‘out’ in badminton is whether it:

lands outside the boundaries of the court

i.e. not on or within the boundary lines (Laws of Badminton, §13.3.1). That rule doesn’t seem to have been clarified in any more detail anywhere that I can find, though.

A few times now, I have seen cases in professional matches where the instant replay in slow-motion seem to show the shuttle landing very horizontally, with the cork base of the shuttle landing just outside the line, but the feathers landing simultaneously (or at least so simultaneously that it was impossible to tell, even in slow-motion, which part landed first) on the line.

I seem to recall some of these having been called in and some out, but I don’t recall any Hawk-Eye-enabled challenged being taken to decide.

Hawk-Eye systems show the shuttle as a single circular shape at the point of impact, which might imply that the base of the shuttle is the part that actually counts; but then again, it’s just a simplified CGI animation and not necessarily intended to encode any such deeper meaning.

So in a case like this, where the base lands outside the land but the feathers simultaneously land on the line, should the shuttle be considered in or out? Has this been clarified in any official capacity?

1 Answer 1


While §13.3.1 of the laws of Badminton uses the word lands, §15.2 is much more precise (emphasis mine):

A shuttle is not in play when (...) it hits the surface of the court.

Therefore, the first contact of any part of the shuttle with the floor is the one that counts. Here is a forum post from somebody who contacted the Badminton World Federation (BWF), which confirmed as much.

As you mention, HawkEye's video presentation (which shows a large circle) is for the entertainment of the spectators - they probably show a circle instead of the very small point of contact because the latter would not be visible. In the first years of HawkEye's use it was not even automated; the circle was positioned by a HawkEye employee, whereas an umpire (on so-called IRS duty) decided whether the shuttle was in or out.

  • I hadn’t really thought of land and hit as being different here, I admit. Unlike the question in that thread (as far as I can tell), my query is specifically about scenarios where it is impossible (to the human eye at least) to tell whether the base or the feathers makes contact with the ground first—for practical purposes, where there the two parts of the shuttle are assumed to make contact simultaneously. I get the impression you’re saying that the shuttle would be considered in in such a scenario, since the feather makes contact with the line; correct? Commented May 26, 2018 at 21:21
  • 1
    Correct, if the feather hits the surface of the court, then the shuttle is in. The rules do not have a temporal resolution, and do not decide any more than it's in - whether it is ruled as such is another question. If the human eye cannot resolve this shot (and the human minds of the line judge&umpire recognize it as such), HawkEye will be called, which has a higher framerate. If HawkEye cannot decide and admits as such, it will be a let, per ITTO §
    – phihag
    Commented May 26, 2018 at 21:29

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