For those of you who don’t know very well what a line judge’s role in badminton is or even who are the line judges, I have prepared this post where I have put together everything you need to know about them.
So, what is the role of a badminton line judge? The line judge is responsible for making the calls on a specific line or lines, stating whether the shuttle has landed in or out.
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If you want to know a bit more about the responsibilities of the line judge and how they communicate their call to the umpire, be sure to read on.
Badminton line judge responsibilities
As I mentioned above, the line judges are responsible for calling whether a shuttle has landed “in” or “out” in a specific line or lines.
In major tournaments, there will be one line judge for each specific line that comes into play, with the total being 10 line judges as recommended by the Badminton World Federation.
In less important tournaments, line judges are usually responsible for two or more lines.
When 10 line judges are available, they are positioned as follows:
- 2 line judges for the short service line (one on each side of the court)
- 2 line judges for the center line (one on each end of the court)
- 4 line judges for the side lines (two on each side of the court). Please note that the exact location will depend on whether a singles match is being played (and they would follow the singles sidelines) or a doubles match is being played (and they would follow the doubles side lines
- 2 line judges for the back boundary lines (one each end of the court). Please note that, in the case of the doubles match, these line judges check both the back boundary line and the long service line.
Because of how fast the shuttle travels and the precision of the game, line judges are usually under a lot of pressure. With the addition of the Instant Review System, their mistakes are also more visible.
Badminton line judge hand signals
Line judges use three hand signals. One two indicate that the shuttle has landed in, another one to indicate that the shuttle has landed out, and the last one to indicate that they have been unsighted and cannot make the call.
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.
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.
Hand signal for judge unsighted
There might be instances where the line judge might be unable to decide whether the shuttle has 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.
Badminton line judge qualifications
Line judge levels of qualification
Because of a much narrower range of responsibilities, the division of levels for line judges isn’t as wide as with referees or umpires. Even though this always depends on the specific country, in the case of the line judges there is usually only one or two levels within the country.
In the case of the United States, there are National line judges and international line judges.
In the case of England, there are Line judges, National line judges & International line judges.
Once the line judge has become a national line judge and has some experience at a national or continental level, he or she can be nominated by the respective confederation to become a Badminton World Federation line judge. The BWF will choose based on the nominations to ensure appropriate regional representation.
Currently, the BWF has a pool of more than 100 international line judges who serve at BWF major events such as the BWF World Championships, Sudirman Cup, Thomas & Uber Cups, and major multi-sport events such as the Olympic Games.
Line judge training and assessment to improve the qualification
The training, like the levels, is not as defined and demanding for line judges as it is for umpires or referees.
In England, all the training is managed by the Badminton Line Judges Association of England. To get started there, you just need to take a course with them.
In the US, the process is managed by USA Badminton.
Once you have become a national line judge, as we mentioned above, there is no extra training required. The BWF focuses the improvement on practice (page 12 of the document), so the line judge needs to get as much experience as possible in order to be placed in more important matches. Finally, the line judge will need the endorsement of your national or continental confederation in order to be considered for a position as BWF Line Judge.
If you want to know a bit more about the pathway to becoming a BWF line judge, this page from the Badminton Line Judges Association of England will be of interest.
Line judge retirement age
There is no retirement age available for line judges. In general, BWF line judges serve four-year terms with an opportunity to renew for a second term. In the countries, this will vary a lot and it will not be as demanding as with the umpires or referees
Badminton line judge equipment
In most tournaments, the organization will provide everything a line judge needs in order to attend a match. Since the line judges only make calls on the lines, the only thing that they need is proper clothing, including non-marking shoes.
Some line judges find helpful to wear a cap since it helps them stop the artificial lighting blinding their view.
What do you need to do if you want to become a referee?
As I said before, the path you need to follow will depend on the country you live in. Therefore, if you want to become a line judge, what you should do is contact the organization in your country that is in charge of this and they will be able to explain how to proceed.
For the United States, you can check the USA Badminton page following this link. Currently, the point of contact is Dave Carton.
For England, you can check the Badminton Line Judges Association of England following this link. There you can sign up to become a line judge once there is a course available. They also have a nice infographic table explaining the pathway to the top in this link.
And with this, we have arrived at the end of this post. Do you still have questions about the badminton line judges? Then let me know in the comments below!
If you want to know a bit more about what are the other officials in badminton and what are their responsibilities, then check our Badminton Officials’ post.
If you are curious about the rules of badminton, you can check our badminton game rules post.