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Badminton Service Judge – All Your Questions Answered

Having not found a good resource online that explains in detail everything related to the service judges in badminton, I have created this post where I have put together everything I have found about them. I will cover the following points:

  • Role & responsibilities
  • Hand signals
  • Qualifications
  • Equipment
  • How to become a service judge

Ready? Let’s get started!

Badminton service judge role & responsibilities

The role of the service judge is to control the player that is serving in order to ensure that the shot performed is in line with the Laws of Badminton and any other regulation that might be applicable to the specific event.

As a result of that, the service judge is responsible for making a ‘service fault’ call. The service judge will, as a result, be controlling that the server does not commit any fault during a serve.

Due to the way badminton is played, the service is one of the most important and perfected shots and, especially when playing doubles, players will bring the service to the limit of the legality in order to gain as much advantage as possible.

In addition to checking the service, the service judge usually is also responsible for providing new shuttles to the players whenever that is required.

In smaller championships, when there is no service judge, the umpire takes the role of the service judge.

Badminton service judge hand signals

Due to the fact that the service is such a perfected skill, it is also a very controlled one. Therefore, there are a lot of regulations around it that the players need to comply with.

As a result of this, the service judge has a lot of hand signals available because the service can be performed wrong in a lot of different manners. If you want to know a bit more about the rules themselves, be sure to check our Badminton Game Rules guide, where we explain all the rules of badminton in an easy-to-understand language. These 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 of how to serve in badminton, so you will not commit any of these faults.

Badminton service judge qualifications

In order to become a service judge, you have to follow the same path as to become an umpire. This is because both have actually the same qualification and they will interchange their roles depending on the match. That means that one match a person can be the umpire and another the service judge and, in the next match, their roles can be reversed.

Service judge levels of qualification

There are several levels within the qualification a service judge can have. As I just mentioned, the qualification is the same as for being an umpire, so the titles below are for umpires since those are the ones used from the organizations.

Usually, the qualification starts at the national level and then it might go to a continental level (there might be more than one level here). The last steps are within the Badminton World Federation tournaments, where the levels are unified.

In Europe, for example, the levels before reaching the Badminton World Federation are as follows:

  • National Level Umpire
  • BEC (Badminton Europe) Accredited Umpire
  • BEC (Badminton Europe) Certificated Umpire

Once the service judge is a BEC (Badminton Europe) Accredited Umpire, the service judge needs at least 24 months before he/she can be assessed towards becoming a BEC (Badminton Europe) Certificated Umpire.

In the United States, on the other hand, the levels before reaching the Badminton World Federation are as follows:

  • Regional Level Umpire
  • National Level 1
  • National Level 2
  • National Level 3
  • Pan-American Accredited
  • Pan-American Certificated

Once a service judge/umpire has reached the highest level within the continental qualification, he/she can then be assessed to become BWF Accredited.

In the case of Europe, for example, 24 months are needed between the time a service judge becomes BEC (Badminton Europe) Certificated Umpire until the time he/she can be proposed for an Assessment towards the BWF Accredited Umpire.

Within the Badminton World Federation, there are two additional levels:

  • BWF Accredited
  • BWF Certificated – the highest level.

Service judge training and assessment to improve the qualification

The details towards the highest level will vary depending on the specific country the service judge comes from. However, the general path is fairly similar. First, the service judge will need to undertake some training in his/her country in order to become a National Level Umpire. The length and difficulty of this training will depend on the country the service judge is at.

In the case of Europe, after becoming a National Level Umpire, the service judge can apply to become BEC Accredited Umpire. This can be achieved only after undertaking the Badminton Europe Umpire course organized by Badminton Europe. Service judges who are at a sufficient level and experience can be promoted to BWF Accredited or Certificated Umpires. In the case of Europe, it takes usually around 24 months.

In the case of the United States, the whole process is managed through USA Badminton.

Umpire retirement age

The retirement age for service judges is 60 years old for Europe Umpires, and 55 years old for BWF Umpires. For Badminton Europe Umpires, no assessment is done to service judges over 55 years old.

Badminton service judge equipment

In most tournaments, the organization will provide everything a service judge needs in order to attend a match. Since the service judges only make calls on the service, the only thing that they need is proper clothing, including non-marking shoes.

What do you need to do if you want to become a service judge

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 service 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. At the time of this writing, the point of contact was Dave Carton.

For England, you can check the website from the Badminton Umpires Association of England following this link. There you can look for more information and sign up to become an umpire.

Final words

And with this, we have arrived at the end of this post. Do you still have questions about the badminton service 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.

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