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Line Judging Tips and Signals

Being a line judge is easy, but it is an important officiating supporting role.  The vast majority of a match's officiating responsibility lies with the first referee and the second referee (AKA the "up ref" and "down ref"), but these officials do rely on the line judges for confirmation of certain calls during play.  So what do you need to watch for?

The acronym F.L.A.T.S. is a great way to remember the basics:

F = Foot faults:

Watch the server's feet - if the server's foot is on or over the court's end line at the time of service contact, it is a service error; signal the referee.

L = Lines:

You are responsible for two lines: the end line and the side line that intersect at the corner where you're standing; if any part of the ball touches any part of the line, it is in.  If not, it is out.  Use the appropriate signal and hold it long enough for the referee to see it.

A = Antennae:

These "frame" the boundaries of the court, and they extend upward into infinity.  Whenever the ball comes in contact with or travels over an antenna, it is out; signal the referee.

T = Touches (including blocks):

Watch for the ball to contact players: at the net during blocking; in the back court during defense.  It's a good habit to always signal touches, even when the next contact is a legal contact and play continues.  This keeps you focused on the task at hand and it gives the referee confidence in your abilities.

S = Stand (during set, time-outs and server):

Never sit or kneel during the match.  During play, stand at your corner with hands or flag ready to make your signals.  If the server chooses to serve near your corner, take a few steps away to allow the server room to serve, but position yourself so that you can still watch for foot faults.  During time-outs, stand mid-court at the end line; if you have a brief question for the referee, ask it quickly so that it does not cause unnecessary delay in the game.

Below are the signals used by line judges to notify the first referee of end-of-rally results:

"Ball In"
Ball In
signal w/flag

When using a flag, extend flag arm and point the flag down and into the court; when using only hands, extend both arms down and into the court.

"Ball Out"
Ball Out
signal w/flag

When using a flag, extend flag arm above your head; when using only hands, keep elbows at your side and hold hands up, palms facing you.

"Ball Touched"
Touch
signal w/flag

When using a flag, hold flag in front of you and touch the top of the flag stick with the palm of your other hand; when using only hands, hold one hand similar to "ball out" hand signal, and with the other hand, use a "wiping" motion against the palm of the stationary hand.

"Other Infraction"
Other Infraction
signal w/flag

This signal can be used for both foot faults and ball-antenna contact.  

For foot fault signaling when using a flag, raise flag above head and either twirl it in a circular motion or wave it from side to side while pointing to the end line with the other hand.  When using only hands, raise one hand above head and wave it from side to side while pointing to the end line with the other hand.

For ball-antenna contact signaling when using a flag, raise flag above head and either twirl it in a circular motion or wave it from side to side while pointing to the antenna with the other hand.  When using only hands, raise one hand above head and wave it from side to side while pointing to the antenna with the other hand.

"End of Set/Match"
"End of Set/Match"
signal w/flag

When set or match point has been completed, both line judges should follow the referee's lead by signaling the end of the set and/or match.  Whether using a flag or only hands, cross hands over chest, forming an "X".  It is typically considered polite protocol to shake the referee's hand at the conclusion of the match.