I started umpiring over a year ago and I have learned many valuable lessons. Here are the top lessons I wanted to share with starter umpires like me.
Lesson #1: Feedback - When you are shadowing and learning to umpire, you will receive a lot of feedback from other umpires, coaches and even parents. Although most coaches and parents mean well, the majority of the useful feedback will come from your fellow umpires. Helping you know where to stand, which hand movements to use and how to make difficult calls is all part of the learning process of becoming an accurate umpire. Staying open to feedback is one of the best ways to advance your officiating skills. Be open minded and do not take the feedback personally.
Lesson #2: Connection - Connection and collaboration with fellow umpires is key to having an accurate and fair game. I always appreciate the opportunity to chat with fellow umpires before the game to go over game logistics and connect with them. Being on the same page during a game leads to successful, accurate umpiring. For example, it is easier to briefly pause a game to discuss a tricky call, if necessary, when both my partner umpire and I feel like a unified front and we are connected.
Lesson #3: Confidence - One of the most helpful lessons I have learned, that can be used in all aspects of life, is to be confident especially when officiating. This does not mean I have to be a know-it-all; it just means I am able to back up my calls with presence and authority. Knowing where the ball should be placed, giving players directives and even arm movements are much more effective during a game when confidence is displayed.
Lesson #4: Mindset - When going out on the field or court, I think a positive mindset makes a difference. No one likes a grumpy umpire. Most athletes play the sport of field hockey because it is fun. We, umpires, do not need to ruin it by showing up emotional, stressed or arrogant. That does not mean, I have to exude joy while umpiring, but me having an open, positive mindset can make the game more enjoyable for the players, coaches, parents, my fellow umpire and myself.
As I embark on my second-year umpiring, there are bound to be more lessons for me to learn. With these four, I feel like I am off to a good start and I hope you are, too.
If you or anyone your know is interested in getting a start in umpiring, email firstname.lastname@example.org. #GrowTheGame