Umpiring Teamwork in Indoor Hockey. x4|
April 19, 2002
|Planet Field Hockey
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Umpiring indoor hockey is a very good way to improve our umpiring outdoors. In indoor hockey the ball moves quickly, the spaces are smaller (so there is likely to be more contact), and proportionally more of the game is in or near a circle (so there are more situations where there might be ?upgraded? decisions. The umpires need to be in good positions, have good judgment, be clear with the whistle and signals, and have good teamwork.
Some of the ingredients of good umpiring are control, consistency, advantage, concentration and co-operation. All of these elements are enhanced by teamwork, or define teamwork. Good teamwork by the pair of umpires in the game, or the group of umpires in a competition, will make it much easier to be part of a game that is enjoyable to watch or play in.
Indoor hockey is an excellent place to work on your teamwork because the game is fast, the spaces are smaller, and you are able to be closer to your colleague and the play. There are also relatively more penalty corners and penalty strokes to practice co-operating with your colleague and managing the players.
As in field hockey, teamwork starts with your pre-game discussion. There needs to be some discussion about the expectations in the game. This does not mean you say (or think!) things like ?#4 is a dirty player. We?ll have to throw her off.? It does mean that you anticipate the importance of the game, the amount of skill the teams have, the quality of the court and the possible effect of this on the play, what the lines on the court are like and how this may affect your positioning, etc. As a pair (group) of umpires you need to go over some decisions that might be contentious (how do you see obstruction, what kind of movement do you allow on the PC stop ?and who calls it-, how will you deal with the ball in the air in different situations, etc.).
A very important part of any pre-game discussion is to come to a consistent approach for the application of penalties. What about a tackle will make it an intentional foul? What about an intentional foul will bring a card as well as a PC? A yellow card instead a green card? What will make a yellow card 10 minutes instead of 3 minutes?
Before the game begins you should warm-up and stretch. To do this together, in a place where the teams see you prepare physically, is an excellent demonstration that you are a team. The umpires also need to check the court and goals before the game to make sure everything is as they want it to be. The same applies to the teams with their uniforms. Make sure there are no potential problems before the game starts.
In the pre-game discussion there needs to be some talk on how the court will be divided. Indoor hockey has less space, so it isn?t as helpful to use a diagonal line to divide the court. In the rules of indoor hockey each umpire is solely responsible for goals, penalty strokes, penalty corners, and free pushes for the defense in their circle, and ball-out-of-play decisions along their side-board and back-line. Umpires also need to recognize that blowing decisions near their colleague isn?t going to give the players much confidence in their colleague, or have the other umpire feeling very good about the performance of the umpiring team.
I think that the umpire in the direction the ball is going towards has the better feel for how advantage is likely to play out, and that umpire should have precedence. If something happens, and this ?lead? umpire shows that she has seen it by showing a clear advantage sign, then the ?trail? umpire can happily let the play go towards the other goal. This works well even when the foul happened nearer the ?trail?umpire but the play is going to the other goal. A line that is important in division of the court issues is the center-line. If there are simultaneous whistles by the two umpires, the quickest way to avoid confusion for the teams and spectators is for the umpire on whose side of the center-line the foul was on to maintain their decision, and the umpire on the other side of the court to take their arm down. The umpire on the opposite side of the court can also quickly change the direction of her signal to support the umpire in whose half the foul occurred. If this is done quickly, most of the players and fans will never know that conflicting decisions were made. (Remember that if the teams are legitimately confused by the umpires giving conflicting signal, the umpires should delay the game so that one team isn?t penalized for thinking they were going to take a free push when they needed to be thinking about defending one).
In all hockey, good teamwork needs a commitment to eye contact throughout the game. It is this eye contact, and all the small messages of encouragement and fun that help make umpiring indoor hockey so much fun. Eye contact leads to co-operative umpiring, so when one umpire is blocked from the play there can be a quick look over for help, and a decision can be given without the teams ever knowing that an umpire was unsighted. Regular eye contact with your colleague is also a good way to keep your concentration high. Do not give signals unless you are asked (eye contact).
Positioning is critical to good umpiring, and is also vital in teamwork. An important instance were the positioning of the trail umpire can help the lead umpire is when the ball is in the lead umpire?s circle, but on the far side of the court. This often happens, resulting in a ?stalemate? situation with the goalie or other players blocking the lead umpire?s view. The trail umpire can come right down the side-board to assist. If the lead umpire is blocked and thinks something may have happened, she can look over to the trail. The signal for what to do should ONLY come after the lead umpire looks over! Nothing makes a team of umpires look as bad as when one umpire is signaling all the time, and is ignored by the other.
Positioning by the lead umpire when the ball is in her circle has teamwork implications as well. If the lead umpire always stays near the top of the circle to look down to the play, the trail umpire will be behind her left shoulder ? not the best place to have to search if the lead is blocked out. It is easier to look through the play to find your colleague from the near post. From this post position the lead can always move up into the circle to see an incident near the far post (goalie on the ground playing the ball, for example).
Teamwork is important in the division of responsibilities at penalty corners and penalty strokes. The lead umpire in both instances has to make sure players in two different areas are set up correctly, that the players don?t move early, that a variety of skills are performed correctly, and see whether the ball crosses completely over the goal-line. The job becomes much easier if some of the responsibilities are given to the trail umpire, or shared.
In indoor hockey the umpires have a responsibility in making sure that substitution happens legally. Both umpires should watch, and either umpire can give a penalty corner for an inappropriate substitution.
It is the nature of sport that strange things can happen. You have one view of the game. Your colleague and all of the players have a different view of things that happen in the game. If something happens in the game that you didn?t cover in the pre-game discussion, or you sense there is a problem from the reaction of the players, or your colleague is making the pre-arranged signal that something has happened, be willing to talk to each other. The teams will always appreciate that the umpires are working to make the correct decision together.
Umpiring indoor hockey is challenging and rewarding. Feeling that you are umpiring the game as part of a team can also make it more fun. Enjoy your games.
FIH Grade1 Indoor.
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