The Badminton World Federation (BWF) will start testing an experimental service law (Fixed Height) from March 1, 2018, including at the Thomas & Uber Cup Finals in Bangkok and at the World Championships 2018 in Nanjing.
The finalisation of arrangements for this implementation was among a range of decisions made by the BWF Council at its recent meeting in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
A proposed change to the Laws of badminton will be brought before the BWF Annual General Meeting in May to give effect to this testing.
It will mandate that "the whole of the shuttle shall be below 1.15 metres from the surface of the court at the instant of being hit by the server's racket" and the first event of the new BWF tournament series at which this experimental law will be introduced is the All England Open Badminton Championships.
All Grade 1 events – except the BWF World Junior Championships – will undergo testing as will Grade 2 events (the new BWF tournament series) and continental championships in April. As of now, testing is expected to run until year-end.
"The serve is an integral part of badminton. Over the years, we have been looking for ways to improve how the service laws are applied," said BWF President Poul-Erik Høyer.
"Therefore, after various investigations and deliberations, the Council has determined to implement this Experimental Service Law in an effort to improve the application of the service laws at BWF tournaments. We hope this will yield positive feedback from our membership".
Ahead of the testing, the BWF will host a training workshop for BWF Umpire Assessors in Kuala Lumpur in January and thereafter those BWF Umpire Assessors will hold training courses at the continental team championships in February. Training will include how to use the measuring devices that will determine service height.
$6m for capacity building; revamped digital strategy
Meanwhile, also at the Council meeting – in the development sphere – the international federation approved US$6 million to support capacity building within its continental confederations over the next six years.
"As our sport grows globally and the demands for resources increase, it is crucial that we equip our confederations to deliver projects effectively to our member associations," noted Høyer.
"Our objective is to ensure confederations can offer tailor-made services to our membership to propel badminton's development at a regional and national level."
Funding is also being directed to player development through a Star Creation initiative, with the BWF proposing to partner with a specialist agency to focus on the development of players outside of the court.
"We want to help players develop commercial best practices as well as to understand how they can market themselves better as commercial properties; essentially how they and badminton can benefit from their on-court success. This will involve elements such as social-media management, language training, media training and how to maximise their commercial value to sponsors," explained BWF Secretary General Thomas Lund.
A significant budget has also been set aside for BWF to pursue a cutting-edge digital strategy to enhance badminton's fan-engagement experience. The aim is to create a mix of digital channels, tools and activities to provide exciting engagement with the sport's fan base all-year round.
It will focus on star players and tournaments and will be designed to support BWF's commercial activities and increase the value of badminton not only to fans but to the sport's commercial stakeholders as well.