How to achieve the role effectively

While the previous section focused on what umpires do (from an overall perspective to a more detailed approach), this section will look at how umpires can best go about achieving this. The attitude an umpire projects – to the players, the coaches, and the other court officials – can go a long way towards facilitating the application of the Laws of Badminton. Establishing the right attitude has a lot to do with confidence. Part of this confidence comes from a thorough knowledge of the laws, part of it comes from experience, and still another part comes from the belief that you are prepared to handle any situation that might arise.

Some of the qualities of a good umpire may come naturally, and others can be developed through practice. Some can be rehearsed, while others are harder to polish except through experience. Some are general qualities that will apply to various areas of life, while others are specific to umpiring.

Generally, umpires should have the ability to:

  • maintain concentration, focus and alertness
  • communicate clearly (one-on-one and in public speaking)
  • work as part of a team
  • keep calm under pressure

They will also need to develop skills around:

  • assertive/pro-active court management
  • anticipation of potential on-court situations
  • maintaining control of the match (scores, faults, line calls, player behaviour)
  • application of the laws in a quick, consistent, fair way

All of these qualities will help umpires to carry out their duties in a way that demonstrates firm, fair control to the players, coaches and spectators. Once players realise they can trust you to be consistent and fair, many of the potential hotspots will disappear. On the other hand, it is important to keep in mind that “the game is for the players”. The best umpires do their job so well that no one notices them.

Each umpire has his/her own style on court. This generally reflects the umpire’s experience and approach, and can help project confidence and control. It is what makes them feel (and appear) comfortable in the chair. While umpiring styles are personal and diverse, following is a list of good practices that can help umpires establish their “presence” on court.

  • Keep head movement small and natural during rallies as you follow the shuttle.
  • Focus on the net area for just a little longer than normal when there is close net play.
  • Glance at the loser of the rally briefly before going to the scoresheet or scoring tablet.
  • Make eye contact with the service judge at the end of every rally.
  • Make eye contact with the line judges when they make calls, and acknowledge their calls with a small nod of the head and a smile.
  • Take immediate and appropriate action if any incidents occur.
  • Be aware of the shuttle at all times, so that you know (as far as possible) before the players even ask that the shuttle needs to be changed.
  • Use a high clear to one side of the court to briefly glance at the coaches at that end to maintain an awareness of them and ensure they are not coaching during the rally.
  • When players know that they have “crossed the line”, let your body language show this.