Work as a Team with the Line Judges
The umpire is in charge of controlling the match, and a line judge’s job is to help the umpire do that, by making prompt, clear, correct calls on the assigned line(s). However, the umpire can also help line judges do their job as well as possible. If they are able to work together seamlessly, everyone’s experience (including that of the players, coaches and spectators) is much more enjoyable. Following are some tips on how to achieve this.
- Make eye contact with line judges when they make a call. They should hold the call until this eye contact has been established. You can also give a slight nod, especially when a tight call was well done. This lets both of you know that the call has been correctly communicated. It also makes the line judges feel that you value their contributions.
- If a player or coach disagrees with a line call and attempts to argue with or intimidate the line judge, let the player know that this is unacceptable. The umpire is in charge of what happens on court, including protection of the line judges from any kind of intimidation.
- If there is any confusion around a line call, ask the line judge to repeat it, in a neutral manner, so that it does not sound like a challenge of the decision, but simply a request for repetition
- If you need to overrule a line judge’s call, do so in a neutral tone to avoid making the line judges, players, or spectators question the line judge’s work. Continue to acknowledge the line judge’s future calls in the same manner as usual, to show that there is no criticism implied in overruling a call.
- When there are two line judges on a corner (one for a side line and one for a back line), they may (correctly) make two different calls. For example, if in a singles match, the shuttle falls in the corner where back and side tramlines intersect, the side line judge will correctly call “Out” and the back line judge will correctly signal “In”. If either of the line judges calls “Out”, the shuttle is out. (If there is any confusion around this point, see the BWF Line Judges’ Manual for a more complete explanation with photo and video examples).
- Depending on the level of the event, there may be a protocol established for line judges to sit and stand as a team, which makes the event look more polished and professional. In general terms, line judges will remain seated throughout each game, but will stand during the intervals between games. At the beginning of the match, either a team leader will indicate when they should be seated, or they will sit when the umpire sits. At the end of the match, they will generally stand once the end-of-match announcement has been made (either at the direction of a team leader, or when the announcement ends). The umpire is not usually involved in the process, but should be aware of the designated protocol. More detailed information is available in the BWF Line Judges’ Manual.
- Finally, it is important for the umpire to know where to look for a line call, which depends on the number and configuration of line judges. Some sample diagrams and explanations are included in the appendix “Possible Configurations of Line Judges”.