Behind the Whistle: Fit, Mobile and Well Positioned Umpires

Sept. 16, 2019, 9:12 a.m. (ET)

Each week, USA Field Hockey's Umpiring Department will provide video clips for educational purposes on recent plays/calls.


  a.  Umpires must be mobile so they can move to appropriate positions throughout the match

  b.  Static umpires cannot view play clearly enough to make correct decisions at all times

  c.  Fit, mobile and well positioned umpires are better able to concentrate on the flow of the match and on the decisions which need to be made

  d.  Each umpire operates mainly in half of the field with the center line to their left

  e.  In general, the most suitable position for umpires is ahead of and on the right of the attacking team

  f.  For play between the centerline and 23 meters area, umpires must be positioned near their sideline

  g.  When play is in the 23 meters area or circle, umpires must move further into the field away from the sidelines and, when necessary, into the circle itself to see important offenses and to judge whether shots at goal are legitimate

  h.  For penalty corners and after the ball has gone outside the field, umpires must take up a position which gives a clear view of all potential action

  i.  For penalty strokes, umpires must take up a position behind and to the right of the player taking the stroke

  j.  Umpires must not allow their positioning to interfere with the flow of play

  k.  Umpires must face the players all the time.


Application: The umpire is in a good position as she crosses the 23-meter line. The ball and the play are on about a 45-degree angle as she is ahead of the play. The umpire slows down as the play slows which now forces her to go wide when the ball swings toward her. This puts her in a position to have to make a critical decision of whether the ball crossed the goal line or not from the edge of the circle.

Guidance: Keep moving ahead of the play with every attempt to get into the circle and hotspot (near post area) well before the ball crosses the 23-meter line. This will allow for the play to come toward you and not away from you. This decision would have been accepted much better had the umpire been much closer to the play. Be well ahead of the play so that the play cannot force you to go wide.

Video clips and photos are being utilized for educational purposes only and not meant to critique individual players, coaches or officials.