Badminton Umpire – What Is the Role of a Badminton Umpire?

Feature Image Badminton Umpire

For those of you who don’t know very well what an umpire’s role in badminton is or even who is the umpire, 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 umpire? The umpire is the maximum authority in a particular match and he or she is in charge of the court. The role of the umpire is to make sure that the specific match 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.

There is much more to know about the responsibilities of a badminton umpire, how they communicate with players or what equipment they need, so read on.

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Badminton umpire responsibilities

It is the umpire’s responsibility to judge service faults and other player faults. The umpire keeps a record of any misbehavior or incident and reports it to the referee. He/she is also responsible for keeping the match score, which will be announced after each point of the match.

The umpire has control over the specific match but also needs to report any serious acts to the referee, who is, in the end, the maximum authority of the tournament.

Outside of the major tournaments, the referee will also take the role of an umpire in order to help with the process.

Umpire 01
Umpire following a match

Badminton umpire hand signals

The umpire is the only official that usually talks during the match. Despite that, umpires also use some hand signals. They are usually used to strengthen the verbal message. The following are the hand signals that an umpire might use during a match.

Hand signals for player’s misconduct

If a player is behaving in a way that the umpire believes is against the Laws of Badminton, he has a standard procedure to follow. This procedure is explained in the Laws of Badminton, Part II, Section 2, Recommendations to Technical Officials, point 3.7:

3.7 Misconduct

3.7.2 When the umpire has to administer a breach of Law 16.4.1, 16.5.2, or 16.6 by issuing a warning to the offending side (Law, call “Come here” to the offending player and call: “… [name of player], warning for misconduct” at the same time raising the right hand holding a yellow card above the umpire’s head.

3.7.3 When the umpire has to administer a flagrant or persistent breach of Law 16.2, 16.4.1, 16.5.2 or 16.6 by faulting the offending side (Law, or and reporting the offending side immediately to the Referee with a view to disqualification, call “Come here” to the offending player and call: “… [name of player], fault for misconduct” at the same time raising the right hand holding a red card above the umpire’s head, and calling the Referee.

3.7.4 When the Referee decides to disqualify the offending player or pair of players, a black card is given to the umpire. The umpire shall call “Come here” to the offending player or pair and call: “… [name of player(s)], disqualified for misconduct ” at the same time raising the right hand holding a black card above the umpire’s head. Any disqualification for misconduct shall render a player disqualified for the entire tournament or championship.

Extract from the Laws of Badminton, Part II, Section 2, Recommendations to Technical Officials
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Hand signal for the usage of the Instant Review System

When a player challenges a line judge or umpire call regarding where the shuttle landed, the Umpire, if there is a right to challenge remaining, has to call “…..[name of the player who challenges] challenges. Called [IN / OUT, as appropriate].”, at the same time raising the left hand above the Umpire’s head.

Hand signal to request the help of the Referee

If for whatever reason, the umpire needs the help of the referee, the Umpire has to raise his/her right arm to signal the request for help/intervention.

Hand signal to show a change in serve

At the end of each point, the umpire has to call the score of the match as it stands. When a side loses a rally and thereby the right to continue serving, the umpire has to call: “Service over” followed by the score in favor of the new serving side; if necessary, the umpire has to, at the same time, point the appropriate hand towards the new server and the correct service court.

If you are not sure how the service works, we have written a detailed post called badminton match where we explain, between other things, how both singles and doubles service works. Once you understand the principles, it stops being so complex.

So, if the new server is located on the left-hand side of the umpire, the umpire will use the left hand to point towards the new server. If, on the other hand, the new server is at the right-hand side of the umpire, the umpire will use the right hand to point towards the new server.

Badminton umpire qualifications

Umpire levels of qualification

There are several levels within the qualification an umpire can have. Usually, it starts at the national level and then it might go to a continental level (there might be more than one level here). The last steps are within the Badminton World Federation tournaments, where the levels are unified. Taking as an example Europe, their levels before reaching the Badminton World Federation are as follows:

  • National Level Umpire
  • BEC (Badminton Europe) Accredited Umpire
  • BEC (Badminton Europe) Certificated Umpire

Once the umpire is a BEC (Badminton Europe) Accredited Umpire, the umpire needs at least 24 months before he/she can be assessed towards becoming a BEC (Badminton Europe) Certificated Umpire. After that, another 24 months are needed before he/she can be proposed for an Assessment towards the BWF Accredited Umpire. In the Badminton World Federation, there are two additional levels:

  • BWF Accredited
  • BWF Certificated – the highest level.

Umpire training and assessment to improve the qualification

The details towards the highest level will vary depending on the specific country the umpire comes from. However, the general path is fairly similar. First, the umpire will need to undertake some training in his/her country in order to become a National Level Umpire. The length and difficulty of this training will depend on the country the official is at.

In the case of Europe, after becoming a National Level Umpire, the umpire can apply to become BEC Accredited Umpire. This can be achieved only after undertaking the Badminton Europe Umpire course organized by Badminton Europe.

An Umpire can be assessed towards BEC Certificated Umpire after usually 24 months of being a BEC Accredited Umpire.

After that, the Umpire needs to be active for another 24 months before he or she can be proposed towards an Assessment to become BWF Accredited or Certificated Referees.

Umpire retirement age

The retirement age for umpires is 60 years old for Europe Umpires, and 55 years old for BWF Umpires. For Badminton Europe Umpires, no assessment is done to umpires over 55 years old.

Badminton umpire equipment

In most tournaments, the organization will provide everything an umpire needs in order to conduct matches. Having said that, you can see below a list of everything an umpire should have in order to direct a match.

  • Proper clothing
  • A stopwatch
  • The scorecard and one pen.
  • A clipboard where you can keep the scorecard and the pen safe and where you can write comfortably.
  • Three cards
    • One caution yellow card
    • One caution red card
    • A disqualification black card
  • A badminton umpire chair. The height of the seat must be 155 centimeters.

Final words

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

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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