Work as a Team with the Service Judge

The service judge is an important ally for the umpire. The service judge’s official role is to call any service faults, and generally to dispense shuttles, with the umpire’s approval. However, as a service judge is also a qualified umpire, he/she can serve as great support throughout the match, especially if umpire and service judge work together effectively. For example, the service judge should always go on court with his/her basic umpiring gear (stopwatch, red and yellow cards, pens), so that if there is a problem with the umpire’s gear, there is a back-up. The service judge will generally also keep the score in his/her head, so that if there is a problem with scoring (malfunction of the scoring device, a mistake on the part of the umpire), this can be easily rectified.


The service judge can discreetly help the umpire identify or confirm any faults where the umpire is unsure (for example, if a shuttle grazed a player’s clothing, if both members of a doubles pair hit the shuttle, or if a player touched the net with his/her racket). The service judge can also help confirm any questionable line calls on his/her side line. These actions must be subtle, since in the end they are the umpire’s call, but this is where good teamwork is vital. If umpire and service judge work in partnership, a quick glance or subtle gesture is enough to help the umpire confirm his/her decision. While this may be more difficult for beginning umpires/service judges to achieve, it is something that comes naturally with practice and experience. This point will be addressed in greater detail in the Level 2 Umpires’ Manual.


As stated above, the service judge’s official role is to call any service faults that occur during the match. However, if there is a lot of noise in the hall, especially when there is cheering for a match on a nearby court, it may be difficult to hear this call. If the umpire glances briefly at the service judge once the serve has been delivered, this is enough to detect any unheard calls, and it can help make the service judge feel that the two of you are working together. Brief eye contact and a smile, if appropriate, at different points during the match can also make your service judge feel appreciated.


Finally, the service judge will generally come across the court to stand next to the umpire’s chair, facing the court, during the two-minute intervals. This is a good time for a friendly nod and a quick chat about anything unusual that has happened. While they should not be seen to be gossiping or joking around, their comfortable interaction at the intervals is a good way to show that they are working as a cohesive team.

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