A few months back, a new variety of spin serve started doing the rounds in the badminton community. It was already being used in tournaments and was proving to be a tough one to return for the elite players. Denmark’s Marcus Rindshoj is considered to be the one to have started this trend although one cannot be sure about that. What is certain, is that it made the serve a serious weapon and shortened the rallies incredibly. Points barely lasted more than two-three shots.

On Friday, a few hours before the start of the Sudirman Cup Finals in Suzhou, the Badminton World Federation issued an interim ban on this variation.

Update: The BWF Council, on 29 May, announced that it has decided to extend the ban on the new spin serve until after the conclusion of the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games in September next year.

What’s this serve?

The new ‘spin serve’ was reportedly first implemented in tournaments at the Polish Open 2023 in March.

England’s Greg Mairs and Jenny Moore, both professional badminton players and the top-ranked mixed doubles pair from the country at the moment, also run a YouTube channel by the name Badminton Insight, which dissected this serve.


What was the reaction in the badminton circles?

While there was an initial awe at this serve, it quickly became evident that this could make matches not very watchable. After all, who could see a match that just comprised of unreturnable serves.

Here’s what commentator Gill Clark and Danish veteran HK Vittinghus had to say about it when the spin serve started dominating discussions:

What does the serve law say?

In a correct service, the flight of the shuttle shall be upwards from the server’s racket to pass over the net so that, if not intercepted, it shall land in the receiver’s service court (i.e. on or within the boundary lines); and one of the sub-sections added: the server’s racket shall initially hit the base of the shuttle.

The full law is available here

What has the BWF said?

On Friday, the BWF Council approved a proposal for an ‘experimental variation’ to the Laws of Badminton to forbid the use of the new ‘spin serve’ effective immediately until 29 May 2023.

The amendment to 9.1.5 of Section 4.1 of the BWF Laws of Badminton now states that the server shall release the shuttle without adding spin, and the server’s racket shall initially hit the base of the shuttle.

Any failure to adhere to the experimental variation to the law will result in a fault being called.

The interim ban takes effect at all BWF sanction international tournaments including the BWF Sudirman Cup Finals 2023 starting Sunday 14 May 2023 and the Malaysia Masters 2023 the following week.

BWF President Poul-Erik Høyer said of the decision:

BWF welcomes players creating innovation in our game and experimenting with techniques to create competitive advantage on court. However, we have received several points of feedback from within the badminton community, including the BWF Athletes’ Commission, expressing that this ‘spin serve’ could have a negative impact on the game. It’s also been observed internally that this ‘spin serve’ has many similar characteristics to the ‘Sidek serve’, which is not allowed.

An expert panel, therefore, recommended to disallow the ‘spin serve’ until further consultation could take place with the membership at the upcoming BWF AGM on 27 May 2023. BWF also wanted to avoid a scenario where the upcoming TotalEnergies BWF Sudirman Cup Finals 2023, and other international tournaments, could be platforms to test the new ‘spin serve’ and ultimately disrupt the competitions.

As such, BWF Council felt it best to impose this experimental variation to disallow the ‘spin serve’ until BWF Council convenes again on 29 May for further discussion and deliberation.

Update: Ban extended

After consultation with the badminton community, BWF Council believed it best to forbid the ‘spin serve’ for another 15 months so as to not impact the Olympic and Paralympic qualifying periods and the Games themselves.

This follows the announcement on 12 May 2023 where an interim ban was imposed ahead of the BWF Sudirman Cup Finals 2023.

Here’s a look at some of the reactions to the spin serve:


Whether this ban remains permanent, will be known at the end of this month.