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Umpiring Netball: Have You Got What It Takes?

Umpires (or Team White as they sometimes like to be called) fulfil the main duties for netball matches as well as being responsible for ensuring the general health and safety of all players. Without umpires, matches would not be able to go ahead.

There is an extensive amount of mental and physical work that goes into becoming an umpire, they oversee making necessary calls for infractions, upholding the rules of the game, and placing importance on player safety. They must also move up and down the court throughout the entirety of the game to make these necessary decisions. They say an umpire processes and analyses over a dozen moves every second during a match. Some decisions may go against your team, or something might have been missed, this is not something which is done intentionally. Just like players, umpires are still learning and practicing each week to improve their skill and judgement of the game.

From the moment all players get into position to start that first quarter, 14 eyes look over at the umpire, waiting for the whistle to be blown. For some, this can be intense and off putting but for an umpire it’s all part of the role. Here are the three main traits someone should have when deciding to go into umpiring:

Fast Reaction Time – A player can only hold onto the ball for three seconds, so it’s clear the game will be fast paced. If the umpire cannot keep up with the movement of the game, then breaches of the rules from players will be missed.

Quick Decision Making – This follows on from the first. Once the umpire decides to blow the whistle, they must announce straight away why they’ve blown it and what happens next. There is no time to rethink your decision, umpires must always be confident with their judgement.

A Clear, Loud Voice – Being heard from all three sections of the court is very important, otherwise players will continue playing and the umpire will remain ignored. A strong voice also keeps players aware of your presence.

These three qualities portray the level of confidence you have on the side-lines and the players will take note. If an umpire lacks any of these the players will use it to their advantage and respect for the umpire will be lost.

At Play Netball we give qualified and trainee umpires the opportunity to practice their officiating when preparing for their next umpiring award. Therefore, if there are moments during your own match which you feel should have been called by the umpire, please be kind and speak to the umpire during breaks or at the end of the game to discuss what you witnessed. Having the players respect is important to the umpire, but without communication it makes it harder to deliver results.  

If anyone who currently plays in one of our leagues wants to give umpiring a go, please speak to one of the umpires or the coordinator at your league as they’re more than happy to teach you a thing or two about using that whistle!

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