IDTTL -- Umpire Standard Procedure

IDTTL Information for Table Tennis Umpires


Prepared by ITTF Umpires and Referees Commission


Everything that is visible and can occur within the view of spectators and media is considered field of play. From the moment an umpire or a referee enters that field they are bound by the field of play conduct and procedures. The actions and performance of every umpire on the field of play must be uniform in all aspects, not just in conducting a match but also in the way they walk to and from the assigned courts and perform their pre- and post-match duties, as well as in their interactions with players, spectators and other officials on the field of play.

Umpire's Pre-match Preparations

Umpires should report to the referee, or a designated assistant who handles umpire schedules, at least 30 minutes before the start of their assigned session to prepare and get ready for performing their duties. The umpire is responsible for pre-match ball selection and shirt and number check. He or she should conduct these duties at the designated area at least 15 minutes before the start of a match. About 10 minutes before the start of each match, the umpire should be ready with the match card and balls for the designated table.

Before entering the field of play, the umpire and assistant umpire should confer and discuss any issues pertaining to the upcoming match. They should agree who will time the play period and the time-outs, as well as who will place the time-out card on the proper side of the table during the time-out period. They should both be clear on how they will communicate during a match without necessarily having to physically confer between points or between games.

Just before entering the field of play, the umpire and assistant umpire should line up near the entrance and get set to walk together as a team. The umpire should be in front, with the match-card and ball-box held in the left hand. Neither the umpire nor the assistant umpire should be carrying anything else in their hands into the field of play. Everything an umpire and assistant umpire require to conduct their on-court duties - pen, stop-watch, net gauge, coloured cards, towel, coin, thickness measure should be in their pockets and not externally visible or dangling from the uniform or around the neck. When the umpire team is ready, they should enter the field of play in a straight line, in uniform step with the first person in the line, and the umpire leading the way to the assigned court.

Under some conditions - typically for feature matches - there may be appropriate introductory music (the Strauss Radetsky March is strongly recommended) announcing the presentation of the officials to the playing field. With or without introductory music, the umpire team or teams should walk in a straight line calmly with deliberate step and very nominal hand motions. The objective is not to emulate a military parade, but rather a spirit that a unified team is on the way to perform an assigned task. The umpire team should never step over any barrier but always open a space between two barriers, step around gently and close that space after passing through.

It is also possible that the field of play marshal will assemble a group of umpire teams to enter the field of play together and proceed to their respective table. In that case, umpires and assistant umpires will assemble at the designated staging area, to be determined by the referee or marshal. Umpire teams will line up in order of table assignments, with the help of the marshal, and walk into the field of play as a group in step following the first person in line. As each set of officials reach their respective court they turn in and go toward the umpire's chair. Upon entering the court, the umpires & assistant umpires should stand erect on either side of the umpire's chair until all umpire teams have arrived at their positions. The referee or field of play marshal will designate the entry point of the umpire team into each court, typically the nearest corners at the sides of the umpire chair.

Upon entering the court, the umpire and assistant umpire should both walk toward the umpire's chair. The umpire should stand, with feet together and hands to the side, to the right side of the chair; the assistant umpire should stand, similarly, to the left side of the chair. When available, the field of play announcer should present the umpires to the spectators and the media by name and Association. As each name is called, the official should take one step forward and one step back to the same position - no turning round to face other spectators or hand motions. Whether or not the umpire team is presented to the spectators, they should stand in their positions for at least 5 seconds before starting their pre-match procedures. The assistant umpire should follow the lead of the umpire so that both can begin on-court duties at the same time.
Under some conditions - typically for feature matches - players also may walk in with or after the umpire team. In that case, one playing team/pair should stand next to the umpire and the other next to the assistant umpire. After the players and umpires have been presented, pre-match procedures can begin.

Pre-match procedure

Before the start of the warm-up period, the umpire completes racket checks completes shirt colour cheeks and player number checks if not completed during ball selection, ascertains designated adviser for non-team events, performs coin toss and starting end for each player/pair starts the clock for the warm-up period completes the relevant information on the match card. Then the umpire sits in the umpire chair for the duration of the warm-up period.

While the umpire is conducting his/her duties with the players, the assistant umpire checks the net height and tension, checks the cleanliness of the table and floor - removes any debris organizes and straightens-out surrounds clears, the scoring device to all-blank places player/team name cards in the proper place, if they provided by the organizing committee. The assistant umpire sits down in the chair during the remainder of the warm-up period. If the players are present on or near the court, he or she turns the game indicators to 0-0.

Pre-match announcements (unless afield of play announcer has announced the players) After the umpire has completed the field of play duties and the 2 minute warm-up has begun, the umpire sits in his chair and delivers the pre-match announcement (30 seconds before the start of the match). Exact words: "Ladies and gentlemen, this semi-final match will be the best of seven games- To the right of the chair, from France, Patrick Ringel. To the left of the chair, from Canada, Mike Skinner. Skinner won the toss and chose to serve." (This should take about 15-20 seconds to deliver.)

Start of Match

When time is up, the umpire announces, "Time", glances to see that the receiver is ready, points to the server and announces "Skinner to serve - love all". The assistant umpire turns the score indicator to 0-0 and the match begins.

During match procedure

Uniform hand signals should be used during a match (See Appendix for recommended hand signals.) During the match, the umpire should call the score in a clear and audible voice, at such a level that a person sitting at the coach's chair can hear and understand the calls. time play or designate the assistant umpire to do so monitor and enforce the service laws monitor and enforce the behaviour laws make sure that players leave the rackets on the table between games make sure that play is continuous with no excessive delays during towelling or time-out periods monitor and enforce the advice regulations. Between points and particularly during a change of service or ends, the umpire should turn his/her head and look at both coaches. Alternatively, the umpire and assistant umpire can agree before the match starts that each one will monitor the coach to their right. The assistant umpire makes sure that he is in charge of the match ball between games.

Post-match announcement

At the end of a match, the umpire should complete the match card and announce the match result and game scores. ---Ladiesand gentlemen, final results of men's singles semi-final - match 1. Ringel won the match by 4 games to 3. Scores of 11-9, 7-11, 11-5, 11-13, 11-3, 9-11, 11-9. (This should take about 15 seconds to deliver.)

Post-match procedure

The umpire should obtain the players' signatures. The assistant umpire should return the score indicator to all-blank, collect the balls and return the court to a proper condition. The umpire and assistant umpire should meet at the umpire's chair and walk off the court together. The umpire should lead the way with the match card in the left hand and the assistant umpire following instep with the umpire -no music. The umpire team should return the match card directly to the referee's desk for signature. The referee on duty will then check the match card for completeness and accuracy, sign the card and forward it to computer operation for results processing.

Umpires should not linger or walk around the field of play once their assigned duties are completed. If they wish to watch matches in progress, they should proceed outside the field of play to the viewing areas specified for officials and spectators. While on the field of play for any reason, umpires, referees, umpire evaluators, technical delegates etc should be in designated dress code or uniforms, alert and aware of their surroundings and mindful how their presence and conversations might affect ongoing play or visual perceptions.

Umpires should refrain from engaging players in idle chat before, during or after a match. An umpire may respond to a player's question or explain a call made but should not initiate a discussion on non-match related matters. While in uniform, officials should be mindful that they represent their Associations and that, most important, their actions reflect on all officials. During international events, it is implicit that all foreign umpires are guests of the host associations and should respect their traditions and social customs. All officials should read and understand the ITTF officials' code of conduct and should encourage and support others to follow it. Under no circumstances should umpires engage spectators or members of the media with matters relating to their conduct or the conduct of other officials. All such matters should be directed to the referee or tournament director.

Presentations of umpires and referees at end of event

It is suggested that during the finals programme all the umpires and referees serving that event be presented as a group to the spectators, without mentioning the names of individual officials. It is recommended that umpires be presented before the women's final and referees, deputy referees, technical delegates, competition managers and tournament directors be presented before the men's final. Each group should enter the field of play in a straight line to up-beat music (Thomas Arne - British Grenadiers - 1 minute, Beethoven -Turkish March - 2 minutes, Edwin Bagley - National Emblem March - 3 minutes or Josef Wagnor - Under the Double Eagle - 3.5 minutes). Once the officials have entered the field of play and are centred in front of the mai spectator stand, they should stop and turn to face the spectators, bow once, turn to face any other spectators, bow once more, turn toward the exit and leave the field of play, to the continuation of the same music.