The line judge in Pickleball determines whether the whiffle ball has landed inside or outside bounds. Former Pickleball professional player Mark Friedenberg has authored numerous book on the sport and mentions the importance of hand signals in Pickleball.
One such signal mentioned by Friedenberg is called “hand covering eyes.” This signal is done by line judges who feel they cannot make a call because their view of the ball was obscured. In such instances, there are four ways in which a decision on a point is made.
Firstly, if the chair umpire has seen where the ball has landed, then they can directly give the decision on whether the ball was in or out.
Secondly, if the player knows where the ball landed, then they can communicate with the chair umpire about the same in the spirit of the game. This follows a decision solely based on the player’s honesty. In case the player’s opponent is in disagreement with the player’s opinion on the ball’s position, then the chair umpire can decide to replay the point.
Thirdly, if the tournament has the provision, then an electronic line-calling system can be used for review which will show where the ball has landed.
Finally, if none of the above instances are possible, then the point is replayed.
The signal of a line judge covering eyes is not a common spectacle. However, there is a possibility that during Friedenberg’s playing years (late 1980s and early 1990s), the absence of electronic line calls and Pickleball not being a sport that was broadcasted resulted in the unfamiliarity and unknown nature of this hand signal.