Umpires Role in a Match

According to the Laws of Badminton:

The umpire, where appointed, shall be in charge of the match, the court and its immediate surrounds. The umpire shall report to the Referee.
An umpire shall:

  • uphold and enforce the Laws of Badminton and, especially, call a “fault” or a “let” should either occur;
  • give a decision on any appeal regarding a point of dispute, if made before the next service is delivered;
  • ensure players and spectators are kept informed of the progress of the match;
  • appoint or replace line judges or a service judge in consultation with the Referee;
  • where another technical official is not appointed, arrange for that official’s duties to be carried out;
  • where an appointed official is unsighted, carry out that official’s duties or play a “let”;
  • record and report to the Referee all matters relating to Law 16; and
  • refer to the Referee all unsatisfied appeals on questions of law only. (Such appeals must be made before the next service is delivered or, if at the end of the match, before the side that appeals has left the court.)

While this list offers a concrete view of an umpire’s responsibilities, achieving this in practice involves a great many details, some of which are procedural and some of which involve dealing with people. As mentioned previously, it is one thing to know the laws, but another to carry them out effectively. In addition to the Laws of Badminton, umpires should also be familiar with the Instructions to Technical Officials (ITTO), which serve to help them perform the above duties as part of the technical officials team. It is important to consult the most recent versions of these documents, and both the Laws of Badminton and the ITTO can be accessed at http://bwfcorporate.com/statutes.

Umpires need to ensure that their matches run smoothly, which goes beyond keeping players and spectators informed by making the correct announcements and using the appropriate vocabulary. It also means ensuring that neither side gains an unfair advantage – which can involve anything from tampering with the shuttle, to delaying the game, to aggressive behaviour towards the opponent when celebrating points. Umpires need to work together with the other technical officials on court, for example by acknowledging (or sometimes even overruling) a line judge’s decision. All of this involves not only knowledge, but also quick decision-making skills and good judgement, and is actually much more complex than the concrete list above might suggest.

Umpires also have an important role in the presentation of their matches, the event and the sport. By wearing appropriate attire, behaving professionally, and observing good posture and positive body language during their matches, but also throughout the entire event, umpires will gain a great deal of credibility, as well as raising the profile of the event.

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