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One of the most important technical officials in badminton is the umpire. Umpires make game-defining calls and enjoy premium seats — and they get paid for it! Interested? Here’s how to be a badminton umpire!

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Becoming a badminton umpire requires training and certifications at various levels. Training takes place locally, starting with a National Member Association that’s in a prospective umpire’s country. From here, training and evaluations are carried out at the continental level before a prospective umpire earns the title of Badminton World Federation (BWF) umpire.

Once you’re a BWF umpire, you’ll have games as the object of your judgments and front row seats to the fast-paced action. Read on to learn about the process and requirements for becoming a BWF umpire!

What is an Umpire in Badminton?

The umpire is the most visible technical official on a badminton court. Why? The umpire is the official who occupies the tallest seat on the badminton court. Talk about premium-grade seats! Envy aside, the umpire is a technical official in badminton — and one of the most pivotal ones to the game, at that!

The badminton umpire is the technical official who is in charge of what goes on within a badminton match. The umpire has off-court duties, like equipment and technical official checks, as I’ve talked about in this article. The umpire is also in charge of keeping the game’s flow in accordance with the BWF’s Laws of Badminton. In other words, the umpire keeps track of the score and announces it, calls fouls and lets, and gives the green light for any equipment changes (e.g., the shuttlecock).

Badminton Umpire
Badminton Umpire

Besides these duties, the umpire also determines who gets to serve or receive first. In badminton, the umpire is the official who determines initial sides and service orders by means of a coin toss.

The umpire also keeps tabs on interval times so that the game proceeds on schedule. In extraordinary circumstances, the umpire can even override the call or decision of a line judge.

Indeed, the umpire is crucial to the proceedings of a badminton match. It’s for this reason that the BWF places a heavy emphasis on the training and nomination of BWF umpires.

How Do You Become a BWF Umpire?

Becoming one of the most important technical officials on a badminton court is a multi-step process.

To be a BWF umpire, you must train under your National Member Association. This association is also known as your country’s National Badminton Federation. Once you’ve completed training and evaluation at the national level, you’ll be able to officiate local badminton events and gain experience as an umpire. With enough experience, you’ll be able to train under the Continental Confederation that your National Badminton Federation is part of. Training at the continental level ends with the evaluation of a BWF umpire assessor. Successfully passing the course will make you a BWF umpire!

The training required for officiating at the national level may give you the basics of umpiring, but it does little to prepare you for international and continental-grade competitions.

What are the Levels of BWF Umpires?

There are two levels you need to go through en route to becoming a BWF umpire.

The levels of BWF umpires are BWF-accredited and BWF-certified. The first level of BWF umpiring is BWF-accreditation. Being accredited by the BWF licenses you to officiate events at the national and continental levels. After gaining experience at these levels, you can undergo training under your continental confederation. The training culminates in an assessment conducted by a BWF umpire assessor. Here, accredited umpires become certified umpires.

BWF-certified umpires are the BWF umpires. A BWF umpire is what every aspiring badminton umpire wants to be. As of early 2022, there are only 39 BWF umpires. These umpires come from 20 different countries, including Canada, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and more.

As for accredited umpires, there are 53 of them. And you can bet that most — if not all — of them are gunning to be BWF umpires!

Where Can You Train to Become an Umpire?

Training is available at all levels of umpiring, as mentioned earlier. But if you want to become an umpire, you need to know where to go.

You can begin your umpire training under your National Badminton Federation. Currently, the BWF consists of 197 National Badminton Federations. All of these member associations conduct training and certification courses for umpires and other technical officials. To find your National Badminton Federation or Member Association, visit the BWF’s membership page. Upon completing your training, you can inquire about training at the continental level. Training at this level is conducted by the continental confederation that your member association is part of. Completing training here will earn you a nomination for high-level badminton events and the title of BWF umpire.

Training for any technical official position is tough. For this reason, the BWF has free resources available for prospective technical officials. For umpires, you can check out some of the BWF’s free downloadable resources here.

What Equipment Do You Need to Be an Umpire?

As an umpire, you’ll be officiating matches from the comfort and vantage point of your seat on the court. You won’t be playing. However, that doesn’t mean you can show up unequipped for the occasion.

You’ll need a stopwatch. Along with a stopwatch or other similar timekeeping device, you’ll also have to show up to games ready with your three warning cards. You need one yellow card and a red one. You’ll also have to carry a black card. Because of your scoring responsibilities, you’ll also need a pen and a scorecard for logging in scores.

You need a stopwatch because of your timekeeping responsibilities. As mentioned earlier, the umpire needs to keep track of intervals and the duration of lets to keep the game on schedule. The warning cards are for issuing players a word of caution, signaling whether a fault or foul was committed. For grievous offenses on the court, the black card indicates a disqualification.

These pieces of equipment often come courtesy of the event organizers. Of course, there’s no rule against bringing your own equipment.

Decide Where the Game Goes and Get Courtside Seats While You’re At It!

The badminton umpire is one of the most important technical officials in the game. The umpire is responsible for keeping players in line, keeping the game on schedule, and keeping the referee on speed dial. For all the responsibilities the umpire must carry out, it’s no wonder that training is a multi-stage process geared towards optimizing umpires for high-level competitions.

As an umpire, you have a pivotal role in the game’s outcome. But if that doesn’t motivate you to take an umpire certification course, the prospect of getting free courtside seats just might!


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