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Badminton Hand Signals – The 17 Most Common Hand Signals

Badminton, like most sports, makes use of hand signals in order to simplify communication between the different badminton officials, between badminton officials and badminton players and also between badminton players. The hand signals avoid language barriers between people from different countries and also avoid possible misunderstandings when there is a lot of ambient noise. They are usually reinforced with certain sounds depending on the situation at play.

In this post, we have divided the hand signals by the people performing them. In the first part of the post, we will talk about hand signals performed by the officials, starting with the umpire, following with the service judge and finishing with the line judge. For more information about these roles, check out our badminton officials’ post, where we went into detail about the roles and requirements for each of these roles. After that, we will talk about the hand signals performed by the players.

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Hand signals from the umpire

The umpire, as we explained in our badminton officials post, is the official in charge of a specific game. As he/she is the person that makes the last decision, the umpire does not have a wide variety of standard hand signals to communicate with other officials, as he is usually the end receiver of the message and not the sender. He is also the only one that usually talks with the players, so umpires use fewer hand signals than the rest of the officials. These are the hand signals that an umpire might use during a game.

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 16.7.1.1), 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 16.7.1.2, or 16.7.1.3) 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

You can also find the whole process very well explained in the video below from the Badminton World Federation.

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.

Hand signals from the service judge

The service judge has much more hand signals available than the umpire, due to his requirement to communicate in a timely manner any fault to the umpire. If you are curious about what is considered a fault in badminton, we have written a post about badminton game rules, where we explain the most important rules in badminton. Some of them might surprise you even if you have been playing for a few years! The hand signals are usually done together with a call “fault!” in order to call the umpire’s attention to the matter.

Hand signal for foot touching line

When the service judge deems that one or both feet of the player were not in the service court when the service took place, the service judge has to extend the right leg and pointing the hand towards the foot, while calling “fault!”.

In the video below, you can see how the service judge calls the fault when the player’s foot is touching the line.

Hand signal for foot not stationary

When the service judge deems that one or both feet of the player were moving when the service took place, the service judge has to extend the right leg and pointing the hand towards the foot, while calling “fault!”.

In the video below, you can see how the judge called fault when the foot is moved while serving. This is the same signal than when the foot is touching the line.

Hand signal for not hitting the base first

When the service judge deems that the first point of contact with the shuttle was not the base of the shuttle, the service judge has to rest the palm of the right hand on right side of the abdomen, keeping the palm facing the left side of the body, with fingers pointing downwards and pointing the fingers of the left hand to the palm of the right hand with the palm of the left hand facing the abdomen, while at the same time calling “fault!”.

In the video below you can see the fault called when the first part of the shuttlecock that is hit is not the base.

Hand signal for shuttle above waist

When the service judge deems that the shuttle, as a whole, was not under the level of the wais while it was struck during serving, the service judge has to keep the palm horizontally facing downwards at the level of the abdomen, followed by moving it to the left and right below the level of waist, while at the same time calling “fault!”.

In the video below, you can see how the fault is called when the player hits the shuttlecock above the waist line.

Hand signal for racket not pointing down

When the service judge deems that the racket was not facing downwards when hitting the shuttle during serving, the service judge has to raise the right arm in front slightly, flexing the elbow and keeping the palm vertically facing the opposite direction, while at the same time calling “fault!”.

In the following video, you can see how the fault is called when the racket was not pointing down.

Hand signal for double movement of racket

When the service judge deems that the racket did not move in one single movement in the act of serving, the service judge has to move his right arm horizontally, stopping halfway the movement for a short moment and then continuing to finish the move, while at the same time calling “fault!”.

In the video below, you can see how the double movement of racket fault is called when serving.

Hand signal for movement of racket interrupted

When the service judge deems that the movement of the racket was interrupted in the act of serving, the service judge has to move his right arm horizontally, stopping halfway the movement for a short moment and then continuing to finish the move, while at the same time calling “fault!”.

The same sign is used for when the movement of the racket is interrupted during the serve as you can see in the video below.

In our badminton service guide, we have done an in-depth review on how to serve in badminton, so you will not commit any of these faults.

Hand signals from the line judge

Line judges, as service judges, have several hand signals available to them. However, as their role is to say if the shuttlecock landed in or out, they have much less hand signals to use.

Hand signal for shuttle in

When the line judge deems that the shuttle has landed in, the line judge has to point the right hand towards the line.

In the videos below you can see this gesture both from the front and from the side view.

Shuttle In – Front View
Shuttle In – Side View

Hand Signal for shuttle out

When the line judge deems that the shuttle has landed outside of the relevant lines, the line judge has to extend both arms horizontally to the sides and call “out!” to signal that the shuttle has landed out of boundaries.

In the video below you can view this hand signal from the front view.

Shuttle Out – Front View

Hand signal for judge unsighted

There might be instances where the line judge might be unsure whether the shuttle landed in or out. This usually happens when a player is in the line of view.

On this case, when the line judge isn’t sure whether the shuttle has landed in or out, the line judge has to signal that by putting both hands (with the palm facing the eyes) in front of his/her eyes.

In the video below you can view this hand signal from the front view.

Hand signals from players

Although not as important as the ones used by the umpires, also players use hand signals during the matches. However, because these signals are generally used as a communication tool between players, they are not standardized and therefore it is not as easy to categorize them as with the hand signals from the officials. However, there are a few types of hand signals that are used quite commonly

Hand signal to request the Instant Review System

When a player does not agree with a call from a line judge or the umpire regarding where the shuttle landed, he has to clearly say “Challenge” straight away to the Umpire, while at the same time making a clear signal by raising the arm in order to request the Instant Review System.

This can be sometimes used as a tactic if a player is exhausted after a long rally so he/she can catch a bit of breath. It is a good tactic, but not one of our preferred ones. In our badminton tactics post, we outlined the best tactics in order to beat your opponents.

Hand signal before serving when playing doubles

Probably the most common hand signal is used when serving to let the server’s partner know which type of service the server will do so he/she is ready for the most likely reaction from the opponents. Within this category, there are also a lot of variations, as each team will probably use the one they are most comfortable with. However, the hand signals can be divided into two main categories:

  • Short or flick serve: In this instance, the person serving will indicate whether he is going to serve short or long. This can be achieved with the thumb up or down (as in the video below) or with a specific combination of fingers.
  • Four corners serve: In this instance, the person serving will indicate into which of the four corners of the service area he/she will be serving by using a different finger or a different combination of fingers.
One of the first frames in this intro video (between seconds 12 & 13) shows a player signalling on the back the direction of the service (most likely long / flick service)

Clenching of fist to celebrate point

This hand signal is not intended as a communication tool to other people involved in the match, but more focused towards the player himself/herself. This is also sometimes used to show superiority or even to try to make your opponent lose his/her concentration. Carolina Marín, for example, uses this hand signal a lot in her celebrations.

Carolina Marín clenches her fist after wining most of her points.

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Summary

And with this, we have arrived at the end of this post. In it, we have classified the main hand signals available in badminton, dividing them between hand signals done by umpires, service judges, line judges and players. Have we missed any important ones? Do you have any anecdotes with any of these that you want to share? Let us know in the comments below!

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