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Umpire Development

You're heard seen them in action ... But... How do I become an umpire?

Before taking the Level-1 umpire course there is now a nationally recognised route to develop young umpire as laid out by England Hockey.

Young Umpire Award

This is aimed at players from 8 to 13 yrs and based on Mini Hockey. In Norfolk this is co-ordinated through our Young Umpire development Officer. There is at least one young umpires day arranged during the season and there are opportunities to umpire at various Mini Hockey events held during the season. NHUA umpire coaches and senior umpires attend these events to help young umpires get started. This all helps to build confidence and experience.

Foundation Umpire Award

Having taken the various junior training/awards the next step and the entry point for most experienced club hockey players is the England Hockey Foundation Umpire Award. This is aimed at the Over 13s and any adult with little experience of Hockey.

Visit the NHUA Young Umpire Development pages HERE

Level-1 Award

The Level-1 Umpire Award is a nationally recognised Level of Achievement. Once accredited the umpire is registered on the England Hockey national register of Level-1 umpires. Active members of this register are eligible to umpire competitive club hockey in local/county leagues etc. In addition they are eligible for selection to umpire matches in the lower divisions of Regional Leagues. Each county umpiring association is responsible for keeping their part of the register up to date.

The award is in three parts; The only restriction is that the entire Award (the 3 parts) are completed inside any one 12 month period (under review), although exceptions can be made in special circumstances. However, in practice the Award normally follows the sequence given here.

The course is suitable for players over 16yrs with some playing experience and or for fouindation award umpires who wish to progress.

Part One - Theory Examination. This follows a theory session/course on the rules and practicalities of umpiring. The course is presented by one of our senior umpires coaches with assistance from other coaches/umpires as necessary. Depending on circumstances the course may run for one day (5/6 hours) or be conducted over a series of weekday evenings (3x2 hour sessions) with the theory exam (multiple choice type questions) held at the end - normally 1 hour is allowed for the exam, which is held under strict examination conditions. The pass mark is 75% and the paper relates to the Rules of Hockey and umpiring skills presented in a multiple choice format. Whilst it is possible to sit (and pass) the exam without attending the course, NHUA recommends that all candidates do in fact attend the course. Currently NHUA charges £25 per candidate (£10 refund for U18s who complete the course) for the Level-1 course, this includes a copy of the FIH rule book and a free whistle! Candidates also receive Associate Membership of NHUA for the rest of the current season. So whilst not active umpires on the Level-1 list, they enjoy all the other benefits of NHUA membership. Anyone wishing to arrange a Level-1 course or to attend one should contact the NHUA Level-1 Administrator in the first instance. Minimum number of candidates for a course is around 4/6, and maximum number is about 20/24.

Part Two - Practise Match Record Card. This card is issued to the applicant following their registration as a candidate. In Norfolk the cards would normally be handed out during the training course session. It is used to record 3 matches that they umpire (men's , women's or mixed). The matches must be of a suitable standard as confirmed by the NHUA secretary or course organiser. Verification by signing the Match Record Card will be required from the team captains. Note - they are not signing as to confirm any Level of competence, it's only to confirm that the candidate umpired the game! If for some reason the captains won't sign or leave without signing, then a suitable alternative would be a club official, check with your course organiser about this. Cards should not be filled in retrospectively. Remember advice from the umpire coaches is free. During these formative umpiring experiences it might well help the candidate to have an umpire coach present to help and offer advice.

Part Three - Assessment Match. This normally constitutes the final part of the Level-1 award. It follows completion of the Match Record Card (3 matches recorded with signatures from the team captains) plus the candidate must have passed the Examination Paper with a minimum score of 75%. The assessment match should be an Adult 1st XI match preferably of a standard equivalent to local league hockey. However, the course organiser or NHUA can advise on the suitability of any proposed match. Arrangements for the attendance of an umpire coach/assessor are entirely the responsibility of the candidate. Please give potential assessor as much notice of an assessment as possible. Candidates MUST bring with them their Match Record Card. Upon successful assessment the assessor will sign and keep the card. The assessor will also 'grade' the umpire. That is, assess the league up to which that umpire can officiate, umpires can receive a men's and women's grade if they are active in both sections. A candidate can ask to be re-graded at any time. The completed card is sent to English Hockey, via the NHUA Level-1 Administrator, for the details to be entered on the National Level-1 Register. In due course the candidate will receive their Level-1 Registration Card from England Hockey.

Maintenance of Award - The Level-1 award is valid for 1 year from the qualifying date. In order to umpire league games, umpires must be members of their county umpiring association. Most associations now have Public Liability and Third Party insurance policies for their membership. There after to remain on the 'active' list the Retainer Card comes into play. To remain active each Level-1 umpire has to umpire 3 suitable games and have their retainer card duly signed by the team captains. Once again the captains are not making any judgement as to the competency of the umpire, there is another mechanism for this, there is no reason why they should refuse to sign the card. The retainer cards are valid from the start of each hockey season and when completed sent to the NHUA Level-1 Administrator. If the umpire is in the NHUA neutral pool, i.e. receiving appointments from the NHUA pool secretary then there is no need to fill in and return the retainer card. Inactive umpires can 're-activate' themselves by arranging for an assessment game.

Level-2 Award

So you are an active Level-1 umpire within the county and you want to move onwards and upwards, officiating in more challenging games at a higher Level. The ERHUA (East Region Umpiring Association) are responsible for the appointment and training of umpires for the Men & Women's East Premier Leagues. Umpires wishing to go further must recognise that they must have a strong personal commitment and drive to succeed. Probationer Level-2s will be asked to travel further to umpire better games, to umpire at regional tournaments so that ERHUA coaches can see them in action. The whole thing moves up a gear. Norfolk has an excellent record in providing umpires into the regional pool. Norfolk umpire coaches are aware of the potential of our umpires and after discussion names of candidates are put to the ERHUA via the NHUA council/head umpire coach.

The next step then is the Level-2 award. Members of the Level-2 register are eligible for selection to umpire regional league hockey up to and including Premier Division matches. In addition they are eligible for selection to umpire matches in the England Hockey League (men's & women's). Qualifying criteria for Level-2 are:

  • The candidate will be required to successfully complete the England Hockey Umpire fitness test (The Cooper Test).
  • The candidate will be currently active on the Level-1 register.
  • The nomination shall be submitted from the County Umpiring Association, made through the Regional Umpiring Association.

There then follows a program of continual assessment and the candidate has to undergo the fitness test each season to remain on the active list. This is all administered by the Regional Umpiring Association.

Level-3 award

Next up from Level-2 is the England Hockey League Register (Level-3). The qualifying criteria are:-

  • The candidate will be required to successfully complete the England Hockey Umpire fitness test (bleep test).
  • The candidate will be currently active on the National Level-2 Register.
  • The nomination will be submitted through the Regional Umpiring Association.

Again there is a continual assessment programme for each candidate.

Moving on the next step is the award of the National Umpiring Badge. members of this register are eligible for selection to all national hockey competitions (there are indoor & outdoor versions of this award). In addition, they may be eligible for selection to be nominated for international appointments. Qualifying criteria:-

  • The candidate will be required to successfully complete the England Hockey Umpire fitness test (the bleep test).
  • The candidate will be currently active on the EHL Umpire Register and officiating within the Premier Divisions of the EHL.

National Umpire Award

Next up is the National Umpiring Award.

Finally the candidate may now be considered for the award of the FIH badge!

Umpire Coaches

The road to becoming an umpire coach is a parallel one to that of the umpire. Through your County Umpiring Association you first become a Level-1 coach, then through the Regional Umpiring Association you gain your Level-2 coaching award. Next is the Level-3 award, where the candidate is active at a national and possibly international events. All umpire coaches have to show that they are active (with the aid of a log book) and have to re-register every 5 years. Further details on the England Hockey website.

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