Role & Responsibilities of a Badminton Referee

For those of you who don’t know very well what a referee’s role in badminton is or even who is the referee, I have prepared this post where I have put together everything you need to know about them.

So, what is the role of a badminton referee? The referee is the maximum authority in a tournament. The role of the referee is to make sure that the tournament is conducted following the Laws of Badminton, the regulations of the Badminton World Federation and/or any other regulations that might be relevant in that specific competition.

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Badminton referee responsibilities

As I mentioned in the previous section, the referee is the most important official of the whole tournament. He or she is in charge of the competition and needs to ensure that the tournament is conducted following the Laws of Badminton (including court, rackets and shuttlecock measurements), the regulations of the Badminton World Federation and/or any other regulations that might be relevant in that specific competition.

In addition to that, the referee will assist in the matches whenever it is required. If, for example, a player does not agree with a decision from the umpire and believes that the umpire is not being fair, the player can call the referee and ask to intervene. Moreover, if an umpire is having specific difficulty with a player or with a specific situation in a match, the umpire can also call the referee and ask how to proceed.

In the example below, the players did not agree with a decision from the umpire and they requested the referee intervention.

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In this instance, the Japanese players do not agree with the umpire decision and therefore can challenge it to the referee

Moreover, the referee needs to make sure that the facilities are up to the standards required for that tournament. The referee has, for example, the final say on whether the shuttles are compliant with the regulations. Another example would be the badminton mats. In this case, the referee will also be the one approving them before the tournament starts. One last example would be the temperature or if there is any wind current. If that is the case and a player complains about it, the referee will be the one with the last word about which action needs to be taken in order to proceed with the tournament.

Finally, the referee is also in charge of the approval of the schedule of matches and practice (if applicable). An example where the input of the referee would be needed here is if a player has qualified for the final in singles, doubles and mixed doubles.

In this case, the referee will need to decide how to organize the matches, for example spacing them enough so that the player in question can have enough rest. That can sometimes mean that there are no matches going on at a specific moment in time.

Badminton referee hand signals

Because referees are not involved first hand in the matches, they do not have specific hand signals. Their involvement is usually for complex matters where problems need to be talked through. Therefore, they do not need any hand signals since the information they always need to convey is too complicated and case specific.

Badminton referee qualifications

Referee levels of qualification

There are several levels within the qualification a referee can have. The usual path starts at a national level and then it goes to a continental level (there might be more than one level here). After that, the last steps are within the Badminton World Federation, where the levels are unified.

In Europe, the levels before reaching the Badminton World Federation are as follows:

  • National Level Referee
  • European Continental Referee

Once you are a European Continental Referee, it takes usually 24 months before you can be proposed towards the Badminton World Federation. In there, there are two additional levels:

  • BWF Accredited
  • BWF Certificated – the highest level.

In the United States, the levels before reaching the Badminton World Federation are as follows:

  • Regional Level Referee
  • National Level Referee

Once you have achieved the National Level and before you can proceed to the BWF levels, there are two extra steps that need to be taken:

  • Pan-American Accredited
  • Pan-American Certificated

After you are a Pan-American Certified, then you can proceed to the levels of the Badminton World Federation.

Referee training and assessment to improve the qualification

Referee 01
Referee explaining the lines to a volunteer boy

The details in the first levels will vary depending on the country the referee is in. However, the general path is as follows. First, the referee will need to undertake some training in his/her country in order to become a National Level Referee. The length and difficulty of this training will depend on the country the referee comes from since the country is the one organizing and deciding who becomes a referee.

In the case of Europe, after becoming a National Level Referee, the referee can apply to become a BEC Continental Referee. This can only be achieved after undertaking a course organized by Badminton Europe. Referees who are at a sufficient level and experience can be promoted to BWF Accredited or Certificated Referees. In the case of Europe, it takes usually around 24 months.

In the case of the United States, the whole process is managed through USA Badminton.

Referee retirement age

The retirement age for referees is 65 years old, and no assessment to become a Badminton Europe Referee is done to referees over 60 years old.

Badminton referee equipment

In most tournaments, the organization will provide everything a referee needs in order to conduct matches. Moreover, a referee needs much less equipment than an umpire needs. In the case of the referee, only proper clothing, including non-marking shoes, are needed.

What do you need to do if you want to become a referee?

As I mentioned before, the training of the referees in the first levels depends on the specific country you live in. Therefore, if you want to become a referee, what you should do is contact the organisation on your country and they will be able to explain how to proceed.

For the United States, you can check the USA Badminton page following this link. Currently, the point of contact is Dave Carton.

For the United Kingdom, you can check the Badminton England page following this link. There you can sign up to become a referee. They also have a nice infographic explaining all the processes in this link.

Final words

And with this, we have arrived at the end of the post. Do you still have questions about badminton referees? Then let us know in the comments below!

If you want to know a bit more about what are the other officials in badminton and what are their responsibilities, then check our Badminton Officials’ post.

If you are curious about the rules of badminton, you can check our badminton game rules post.

By MiquelM

I have been playing badminton since I was a kid, playing in both national and international tournaments at a semi-professional level. If you want to know a bit more about me, check my "About me" page.

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