Due to shortages of umpire coaches, most of them umpire, NHUA can not provide the number of watchings and training sessions that we would like. So instead of moaning that nobody ever comes to see me umpire - I don't get any help or support. Try self-coaching. You'll be surprised just how useful a technique it can be. Every umpire should be keeping a record/log of all the games they umpire; date, venue, teams, score, weather, colleague, how good the teas were, and an assessment of performance. Well here's how to do it.........
Self Coaching by Tim Crafer HA Staff Coach
Written for the umpire, not the coach
Almost every umpire hopes for more coaching and the various associations do their best to provide it with the limited resources at their disposal. The most that the average umpire can expect is perhaps about two watchings per season, but this varies enormously.
A technique that is much neglected is 'Self-Coaching'. Most umpires have the knowledge of what they should be doing, picked up from the classroom or the written word and above all from constructive watchers. Each umpire should develop the habit of reviewing his own performance after every game and comparing it with what he knows he should be doing. Recently a National Selector remarked that if you ask an umpire where he should be in a given set of circumstances, he almost always answers correctly, and wondered why he stood somewhere else during the game!
In order to coach yourself, you must first analyse your performance, what went wrong and what went right? Here is a checklist to help, and writing down the answers will improve the impact of the analysis.
- Was my kit clean and in A1 condition, boots polished, trousers pressed?
- Had I got a full set of kit, shirts, sweaters, whistles, cards, etc.?
- Did I think about the game and prepare mentally in advance?
- Was I certain of the route to the ground and did I leave on time?
Arrival at the ground
- Did I arrive in time to relax after the journey and change unhurriedly?
- Did our pre-match chat cover all the problems that arose in the game?
- Was 1 confident that 1 knew how my colleague would react at all times?
Before the game
- Did we carry out the preliminary checks together?
- Did we appear smartly dressed and looking like a team?
- Did we warm up properly, both physically and mentally?
- Were the captains called in good time and briefed about any problems?
- Was the right tone set for the game?
During the game
- Was I operating at full power and in top gear right from the start?
- Did I have to sprint to recover my position?
- Was I caught out?
- Did our co-operation work and were we available for each other?
- Was the assistance that we gave each other positive?
- Did we note the changes in mood of the game and react accordingly?
- Were the control incidents handled positively, but with tact and regard to the spirit of the game?
- Did our half-time chat cover all aspects of the first period?
- Was there much dissent, especially from the 'Senior Pros', as opposed to frustration and persistent grumblers?
- Were these responses general, or about a specific interpretation?
- Did I find my concentration wandering, i.e. my mind on other matters?
- Was I well positioned for strokes, goals, and other crucial decisions?
- Did I ever find my view obstructed?
End of game
- Did both captains offer thanks, or even congratulations?
- How have the crowd reacted to our umpiring during the game?
- Was my colleague happy with our Performance?
After the game
- Did I analyse the game with my colleague honestly, not politely?
- Did I listen carefully to the Selector's or Coach's comments?
- Did I listen to the 'Senior Pro' players' comments on the umpiring?
- Did I ask other umpires or watchers for their comments?
- (Would the captains be happy to have me umpire their next game? - from webmeister)
Later on the way home, or perhaps the next day, you must put yourself in the place of a coach. Having gathered the reformation and decided what went right and what went wrong, you must now ask the $64,000 dollar question, WHY. If you can work out why, you stand a very good chance of doing something about it. However it can be a long and devious trail. For example:-
Control problems developed during the game. Why?
Because co-operation was not good. Why?
The pre-match chat was inadequate. Why?
I arrived late. Why?
I left home late!!
So by leaving home late, control broke down and I spoilt the game.
The same chain could apply in reverse; control was good because I left home on time! Of course this is an exaggeration, doubtless many things led to the control problems, but it illustrates how a coach must think. If the answer to any of the example questions in the checklist is unsatisfactory, we must ask the question why, and go on asking until we get to the root of the problem. We may not know how to cure the weakness that we have detected but there is advice everywhere at the end of the telephone and a respected colleague or coach will be delighted to help. Or even a senior player, you may seek his opinion on how he thinks a specific situation should be umpired. Often it is quite possible for the umpire to work out the solution for himself but never be afraid to discuss problems with your colleagues. Remember they have difficulties and probably the same ones too!!
You may think the idea of self-coaching a bit far fetched for you, only for Internationals who sit at week-long tournaments with nothing else to do. Not so, everybody can learn from their own mistakes and the Internationals got there because they took the trouble to learn from theirs. We should carry the drill through honestly and with humility, "I am not always right"!!
Most of us umpire for pleasure; it always gives more satisfaction to do a job well, rather than just acceptably.
Reproduced with kind permission from 'Think Umpire Coaching' byTim Crafer; 1994 © All Rights Reserved