Umpiring requirements and standards local to you

Discussion in 'General Hockey Chit-Chat' started by Stikklebrik, Nov 13, 2017.

  1. Stikklebrik

    Stikklebrik FHF Regular Player

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    Morning Everyone,

    Just trying to get an understanding of how the different local leagues are approaching umpiring and what requirements they place on their clubs and structures too.

    Just for clarity I am NOT looking to have an umpire or league bashing session and more interested in how they handle things.

    The league in which my club plays has this season instigated a requirement that ALL games played at every level must have L1 umpires overseeing the games. Failure to do so by a club can result in fines and points being deducted. However, the umpires association local to us has also sadly ended up with a smaller pool of officials to be able to appoint to games meaning a far greater reliance on club umpires being available been made.
    In previous years at the very bottom levels of the league structure, the use of capable non-qualified umpires has been ok meaning that the juggling of resources and inclusion of club members as volunteers has been achievable and games can easily go ahead. This season logistically it has become quite hard sometimes now and has restricted club members from helping by not (yet) having the proper qualifications.

    So, how do your local leagues approach the umpire requirements in particular at the lowest levels of the structure?

    Thanks
     
  2. Nij

    Nij FHF All Time Great

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    The top grades are appointed from panels (approximately one per grade, where members are used to fill gaps in grades below their own).
    Everything after that is organised as club appointments, with a firm recommendation that they be accredited through a programme designed for that level - enough to get them going but not an overload - with the panels encouraged to observe and give feedback whenever available, and the association offering specific help on request (like putting a panel umpire with a club umpire for development, or to provide more regular mentoring).
    Ideally we'll establish a broad base of community umpires that can cover all games between them with some to spare, while the panel is grown and extended from among them.

    For historic comparison, all grades were appointed according to whoever could or would turn up. Some covered everything from top to bottom, others had a niche for their comfort (or a stubbornness about their ability). That often meant gaps at the bottom end and umpires doing three or four games in a weekend.
     
  3. sanabas

    sanabas FHF All Time Great

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    Top 2 grades are rostered by the association. Every team in those grades is supposed to nominate a minimum of 1 umpire for that panel. So club with top 2 grades in both men & women will nominate at least 4. Plus some umpires that aren't affiliated with clubs. Poor umpires in1st grade generally stop getting given 1st grade games. 2nd grade still features the odd dodgy one.

    3rd grade and below, clubs are allocated commitments to fill. Some clubs make an effort, some don't. Some days you get a quality umpire, some days a regular umpire (who might be a 15 year old who is developing, a 50 year old who'll never change their bad habits, or sometime in between) some days you get someone forced to do their one game for the year & who was unable/unwilling to pay someone to cover it for them.

    u13 & u15 div 1 are mostly done by our junior development program, with mentors blowing the whistle for them/standing behind them/watching from the sideline depending where they're at. The umpiring ability of the mentors also varies, some are those regular umpires with all sorts of bad habits mentioned before. u18 div 1 has clubs rostered on (used to be the first grade clubs, now I think it is the u18 clubs), in theory those doing the games are required to be good enough to umpire 2nd grade seniors. u11 and the 13/15/18 div 2 comps have clubs rostered, again clubs take varying approaches. Some roster senior players on for 1-2 games per season, and those players are responsible for either doing it themselves or organising/bribing a replacement. Some ask parents, some have a semi-regular umpire for a team, etc.
     
  4. Diligent

    Diligent FHF All Time Great
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    I'm aware that, in the south of England (West, South, East), there is a range of policies for non-appointed umpires on county leagues - from 'must be L1' in all divisions, through 'must be L1' in top half of divisions and 'competent' in lower divisions, to the South Men's Leagues (including lower county divisions) 'preferably L1' including for replacement when appointed umpire doesn't turn up.

    Problem is that, in England, the 'Level 1' qualification has become almost completely disconnected from umpiring competence - as evidenced by the considerably improved chances of decent umpiring, and consequently more intense and enjoyable hockey, in the 'anything goes' South Men (Hampshire Div 9, for example) than in the 100% L1 of the West Women's (eg Channel Div 2).

    I suspect the underlying mechanism is that, in the 'anything goes' league, a promising but unqualified umpire will get chances to umpire up the club, often getting a knowledgeable colleague, who passes on a tip or two. And because non-L1 umpires often umpire up the club, the slots lower down will often be filled with a knowledgeable umpire (slumming it in Div 9) who can pass on a tip or two, and also help the players learn a thing or two about what really isn't allowed. In comparison, with '100% L1' an unqualified umpire seldom gets to know whether they are promising or not because they aren't allowed to try, except for spending £50 on a course, with the risk that they won't like umpiring after all. The ones that do get through the course are sent out with little practice, and prospects of advice or input few and far between.

    But they have done the course, so they know how to umpire, it's just a matter of doing it. Right? Wrong. My observation of 200 or so umpires through the (pre-2013) course was: of umpires who never umpired before the course, 90% didn't umpire after either; of umpires with experience, even only a handful of games, 90% went on to pass assessment and qualify. As I see it, the course is almost completely ineffective - it makes no difference. The reason, perhaps, is that it tries to teach too much. When we coach appointed umpires, we offer no more than 3 aspects to work on. The course presents 50 or more, with little to indicate which are important, to any umpire, now. The already-active umpires have a chance to work out for themselves what they already do, what to do next, and what will come later. The raw recruits, with no mental hooks to hang it on, have no chance - all they learn is there's so much to learn.

    I suspect my suggestions are too revolutionary to have any chance, so am offering this as a vision:
    - shelve the current L1 as a qualification - temporarily repeal all league regulations requiring the L1 as a condition of umpiring, pending a new, robust, qualification (robust = connected to competence)
    - define and publicise 'competent' in lay terms - can be judged by captains, coaches, club umpire allocator/developer, and the umpires and potential umpires themselves
    - base the qualifying assessment on that 'competence' - so it can be applied consistently (zero false positives or negatives) by club staff just the same as an HUA assessor, and therefore employed as continuing assessment and even mutual assessment/learning between umpiring colleagues
    - provide a modular training programme - web-based and performance-based - for a drip-drip of exactly the skills this umpire (she, he, I) needs to work on now/next - so every match is development, competence is universal, more than competence is commonplace, and clubs are flush with umpires, celebrating their members who move on through county appointing to regional, national, and even FIH umpiring
    - make umpiring universally at least competent, and often quite good, so players focus on their own skills and decisions (rather than puzzling what the umpire did and might do next), and hockey generally becomes more intense, engaging, and enjoyable - potentially as significant a development as the 1990s transition from grass and shale to plastic pitches.

    As I say, it's a dream. But re-linking the qualification to competence would be a good start. Swiftly followed by supporting continual development...
     
    #4 Diligent, Nov 13, 2017
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017
    Mdevanshk, Mac and Ravennghorde like this.
  5. Diligent

    Diligent FHF All Time Great
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    Well that put a stop to the discussion. Sorry @Stikklebrik. :oops:
     

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