Fit Kit for Umpires
This page aims to address the problem of sourcing good clothing for officials, i.e. 'approved' umpires kit that is functional. There is nothing worse than after umpiring a difficult game well, than to be told by the umpire coach/selector. "That was a good performance.....but your trousers are the wrong shade of black." So here are some suggestions....
It's a proven fact that about 30% of core body heat is lost via an uncapped head, or is it? Either way, keeping warm is vital, the benefits of keeping your core body temperature up aren't just to do with personal snugness. As you get cold, your reaction time is slowed and your muscles (and brain) don't work as well as when they're warm. If you are cold and wet and feeling miserable, you are not concentrating on your umpiring. This applies to all of your body. Converseley, in warmer weather you want to feel comfortable and cool, not hot and sweaty.
Sports Resources for your umpiring equipment needs
So starting from the top....
A woolly bobble hat is out, although they have been spotted on some of the more distant hockey pitches in Norfolk. A baseball type cap is acceptable, but most be of a sober colour, dark blue or perhaps red. Be careful with any badge, slogan or logo on the hat. Anything out of the ordinary then the players may pick up on it and use it against you. It looks better if both umpires can wear the same colour. Caps are frowned upon by the coaches. They say it can hide the eyes and face and it can be hard to see whether your colleague is looking over at you or at play. This can be compensated for by raising your head more and using the peak as a sort of beak, big nods and head shakes can aid communication.
Sun glasses are useless for umpiring in - you must have them securley strapped to your head. The players start wondering where your guide dog is. Some people find umpiring under floodlights very difficult as they are dazzled by the lights. Try a cap, don't ever look at the lights. Some people have to wear glasses and this can cause problems in wet/damp weather. Choose the most sheltered side of the pitch to umpire from, if you can.
NHUA recommend that umpires wear Lime Green (or as an alternative - Electric Orange) sweat shirts or polo shirts.
NHUA wish/hope that clubs would choose their colours accordingly...
Modern clothing can be smart and functional. It is more desirable that both umpires wear the same style and colour as opposed to what they should be wearing.
Since this website started there have been many changes to the range and type of kit available to umpire in. We have moved away from the blazers, ties and white gloves of yesteryear.
NHUA have now arranged for Birds Teamwear of Dereham to stock and supply Lime Green and Electric Orange polo style and sweat shirt tops with the Norfolk Badge. Brids at at Unit D, 13 Yaxham Road, Dereham, NR19 1HB - the shop is directly behind Halfords, plenty of free parking; phone 01362 699130 or 692941. You can order and pay online.
Gloves are generally not necessary. They don't look good and can cause you to fumble the whistle. In exceptionally cold conditions a pair of cut-off gloves, fawn coloured could be used. These are available on Norwich market at silly prices (£2.00 per pair).
Black trousers only. Black track-suit bottoms are a very poor 2nd option. If the weather is really bad, and/or you are umpiring all day out in the cold, try a pair of rain/wind-proof black over trousers.
What you wear under your top clothes is your own business...
But....If you find yourself umpiring in the wilds of Norfolk then you should consider wearing a pair of thermal long johns underneath the black trousers, available from camping shops or mail order from such places as Damart etc.
The big thing at moment is base layers. No longer are they called vests & underpants. All the suppliers have this kit so there is plenty of choice. The Aldi supermarket chain often have good offers for this type of garment - advertised for anglers!
It's becoming fashionable for umpires to use long-sleeved black base tops with a coloured shirt over the top. This looks - smart, but better (as always) if both umpires dress the same.
Any colour style or type you like as long as they can't be seen. There is nothing worse than cold wet feet. If you are umpiring several games in a day a change of socks is in order. The modern trend for water-based pitches means that your feet will be wet within a few minutes of the game starting.
Any colour as long as its black! White footwear always looks dirty no matter how new. Trainers, astro boots, whatever; must have suitable soles for all weather pitches and they must be comfortable. We don't umpire on grass anymore, so football boots are not required. Try to avoid trainers with flashy stripes down the side and logos. Footwear need not be expensive; Tescos, Asda & Aldi have good deals. Short umpires are at a disadvantage, so if you can find a boot or shoe that gives you a couple of extra inches in height, all well and good. It is important to try and find something that is water-proof if possible. Umpiring in cold, wet feet is not recommended.
To summarise: It is important to look smart and professional.
Both umpires must wear the same style and coloured kit, (not always possible). Consider wearing Hi-viz vests when umpiring under floodlights. A pair of matching bibs will look quite smart on the umpires, cheap at about £3 per bib/vest.
You should have comfortable and well fitting clothing. It should be warm and keep you dry when conditions dictate. It is better not to wear waterproof tops and over trousers with sou'westers and wellies, apart from looking a pratt (albeit a dry one) it hinders your movement. There comes a point where you have to suffer along with the players - they'll appreciate it! By all means wrap up before the game and at half time, but not during the game.
If you are a club umpire, then maybe your club should consider buying a few sweat-shirt tops, so you can borrow one for the match.
In an ideal world, your club or umpiring association should provide the umpires with the colour and style of kit they have decided upon. Thereafter you can't criticise the umpires for wearing the "wrong kit".
The most important piece of equipment is the whistle, and whilst it is possible to umpire without one, we recommend that you do! Whistles come and go, over the years several types have become popular. The current favourite is the Fox40 'Mini'. These cost less than £5.00. Readily available on eBay for a few £s in all sorts of colours!
This type of whistle has superseded the small Acme Thunderer. Which nevertheless is a good whistle for learner umpires. They cost around £1 and come in all colours. Umpire candidates are issued with a free one on the Level-1 Umpiring course. Somewhere in between comes the famous 'Italian Policeman's' whistle. This is a splendid chromium plated device with a shrill tone. But my umpire coach never explained how I was to persuade an Italian policeman to part with one! Not often seen these days.
What ever you do, don't wear the whistle round your neck. Make a small wrist band - the straps off mobile phones are ideal for this. Make sure you have spares in your bag. Very ocaisionally you might need a whistle of a different tone if players are being distracted by the whistle from an adjacent pitch.
Do not wear a stop watch around your neck. You must have a spare watch in case the battery of your No. 1 fails, or you press the wrong button, or your colleague has no working watch, make sure you get it back if you lend it out!
It's perfectly possible to make your own from card or plastic scraps. Please check that you can remove your cards quickly and effectively without them spilling all over the pitch. Nothing looks sillier/worse than when you have called a player over and you spend the next few seconds (it seems like days) on your hands and knees searching for the card you want.
Pencil or biro?
The debate goes on, Pencils work in the wet, but you can easily break the point. Biros leak and don't work in the cold & wet.
Post-it notes have been used, you stick one on the back of the yellow card, but it can blow away in the wind. You can write on the back of the yellow card directly with a pencil or with a chinagraph pencil, but the writing can smudge. I use a specially made-up score pad, which is the same size as the cards, the whole lot is kept together with an elastic band. You can download a PDF file from this website and print off score sheets to make a pad. Staple the sheets to a piece of card 7.5 x 8.5 cm. Get the score pad sheets here. If you are a minimalist then you write on the back of your hand with a biro. OK if it's not raining and you are careful shaking hands after the game! You do need to note down various bits of information such as:- Captains names & numbers. The time the match starts. Who has first push back. The goals & match time they are scored. Cardings, shirt number & match time, Half time & Full time score. What ever system you use, you must be able to get the pad and pencil out, write the score down and put it away in the time it takes for the ball to be placed on the centre spot. You are not writting a match report here! and you shouldn't be holding up the game.
In principle any coin will do, but smaller ones are easier to misplace and harder to see when on the pitch. I would suggest something like an old 10p piece (2 shillings or florin) or an old half crown. Silver coins are easier to see on the pitch than bronze coins, because of the sand. The custom is to let the home captain toss the coin and the away captain to call. Don't use valuable coinage, you don't always get them back!
All all this stuff should be kept in a small carry bag. Most supermarkets sell a whole range of school bags at low prices, it doesn't have to be the size of an army kit bag. If you keep all your kit together in one place you'll never forget something and it's all to hand when you need it. You can hang the bag on a paint tin hook (B&Q) from the fencing, if the venue doesn't have an umpires bench. This will keep your stuff off the ground and dry.
There are all sort of sundry items one tends to collect in the light of previous experiences. But all umpires should have with them:- a current copy of the rules and the following are desirable but not essential:- a current red card report form & a copy of the HA code of discipline, a ball of string and scissors/knife to repair goal nets (you soon get to know which clubs have dodgy goals). At the end of the day it's your decision as to whether the ball entered the goal legitimately, so time spent fixing the net is worthwhile. The home club should ensure the goals are OK, but seldom do), roll of PVC or duct tape (again useful to repair nets, captain's arm bands etc. etc.), pair of scissors, tape measure, spare white ball, spare fluorescent ball for night games, spare indoor ball, large cable ties (again to fix goals, but also goalkeepers kit). A bottle of water, Mars bar, sundry plasters, shoe laces, safety pins, stick ring (these aren't cheap about £5. I have one but I have never been asked to test anyone's stick......yet), stick bend measure (you are now only allowed 1" of bend in a stick), spare watch, whistles, cap, socks, underpants, pencil, notebook, poolsheet, East League Handbook, etc., etc. and there must be loads of other stuff you could add as well. This past season I have been asked about the weight of the ball - small set of fishermans scales, and a big dispute about the temperature of the playing surface - i.e. is it frozen? so perhaps a small temperature probe. These latter 2 items are rather specialist and good common sense from both umpires will win the argument anyway! All of this goes into your bag......
The advice and information is based on my own experiences and are my opinions and not necessarily those of the NHUA.