Sunday 3 July 2016

Teamwork and Support

Throughout these blog entries there are constant references to the umpires “working as a team”. The Laws provide for many instances where the umpires “agree together”. It is essential that this teamwork is carried onto the field and implemented throughout the day’s play.

Regardless of any personal feelings you may have for each other, either misplaced or valid – to earn respect you must maintain teamwork and professionalism.

As umpires we have all experienced it at some stage. The help you thought you were getting never arrived. Your colleague has to be there for you and vice versa – NO EXCUSES. You almost immediately lose respect for an umpire who tries to show up his colleague. You are a team out there and you have to support each other. The support can be subtle and go unnoticed to all but those close to umpiring.

Loyalty towards a colleague must be complete and resolute.

During conflict situations there can be no value in going on the attack as soon as a possible problem arises. Always watch how your partner is handling a problem and be ready to give support whenever needed. If things get out of hand or bubble over for a long time after the incident, you should walk towards the other umpire at the end of an over and say something like “everything OK?” or “should we speak to the Captain?”

Never get caught not paying attention. Even a slight shrug of the shoulders if you are asked for help is a negative sign. Even if you do not agree that the incident requires a caution to the player or Captain, make sure you both attend to the matter. Quite often a Captain or player will not want to carry on with the problem if he is of the impression that both umpires are working together.

Not backing up your partner is the quickest way to lose respect of not only your colleague but the players as well.

Saturday 7 May 2016

Coping with pressure

Pressure manifests itself in many ways and in general, will affect logical thinking and optimum performance. The aim of this section is to pass on knowledge to assist everyone to cope and perform better under pressure.

There are good and poor ways of coping with pressure.

Recognising Pressure Symptoms

There are external and internal sources of serious pressure

Pressure breaks your attention span leading to a lapse in concentration.

Pressures usually and most always cause feelings of:

A lack of control over the situation

Tightness of your muscles and breathing

Loss of feeling for the game, its values and participants

This results in:

Loss of basic technique and discipline

Complete breakdown in skills

Results in handling pressure well:

THOUGHTS are positive, confident and flowing in accord with the game.

FEELINGS are calm and in control with a sense of enjoyment and anticipation without effort

FOCUS – on the ‘here and now’, looking for the seam on the ball and wanting the next decision to be yours

Impact of anxiety of performance:

One of the most frequent causes of poor concentration and therefore a build up of pressure is anxiety. Under normal conditions, attention is continually shifting back and forth across a variety of wavelengths.

Under pressure, three things happen:

Attention becomes inflexible

Attention becomes narrow

Attention becomes more internally focused

Dealing with impact of anxiety

Realise that you must have flexibility to be able to deal with pressure

If you allow your attention to narrow, the pressure mounts and it becomes difficult to attend to several things at a time. This is the most dangerous period.

You feel rushed, overloaded and it results in poor decision-making


Increased heart rate

Lump in the throat

Upset stomach

Withdrawal or reluctance to talk to players

Try these simple suggestions:

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and knees slightly bent

Relax your neck and shoulder muscles

Direct your thoughts inward and realize how tense the rest of your body may be

Try to breathe normally

Feel the heaviness that occurs

Now take a deep slow breath (at least 5 seconds) and feel the tension leave

Continue with a few more deep breaths. Clear your mind of irrelevant thoughts

Focus on the next ball

Thought control – turning negative thoughts into positive

POSITIVE: “Nobody likes it but I can cope with it”
NEGATIVE: “I can’t stand this pressure”

POSITIVE: “Stay calm and watch the ball”
NEGATIVE: “I hope I don’t make any mistakes”

Sunday 13 March 2016

After the Match

Agree with the scorers as to the correctness of the scores and sign the books.

Laws 3.15 and 4.2 require the umpires and scorers to work together during the match but it is up to the umpires to ensure the scores are correct. It is essential that umpires establish an understanding and have good communication with the scorers in all matches.

Review the match in detail with your partner and if both of you agree, ask for opinions on areas they think you could improve on.

Get to know the players over a drink or two if invited. This can be helpful in knowing the characteristics of players you may be dealing with later in the season. Never get into long-winded discussions about decisions, just stick to what you told them earlier. Many an excellent decision has been spoilt due to mediocre explanation.

Do not discuss your colleague’s performance in his absence – at all times stay loyal to the third team no matter what you really think. Do not stay too long as judgment and inhibitions tend to diminish as the evening grows older.

Finally, remember that every ball of every match you umpire is a way of practicing and honing your skills. Sometimes a “boring” match can be your best opportunity to practice the skills you are less competent at.

Saturday 30 January 2016

Focus Techniques for You and Your Partner

Good umpires take responsibility for each other’s focus throughout the match. The importance of constant eye contact, if possible after every ball is vital. For example a batsman previously batting on the crease may not be taking strike a metre outside the crease. Picking these instances up and relaying them to your partner is part of the concept of working as a team.

Teamwork automatically keeps you focused and leads to a cohesive pair that is constantly on top of their responsibilities. Intervals in play create the most likely opportunity for lost focus. The problem is that the level of focus required is hard to reacquire and remember common fact no. 4 – focus must exist before the start/restart. Both umpires should talk about what is going to happen when play resumes, who is bowling/on strike, how many overs etc before walking back out. Enjoy the break in play but enjoy getting back out there.

During a tense period the kind of support you give and receive from your partner can be crucial in the final judgment on your performances. Some umpires like to be left alone while others may want a kick in the pants to jump-start their concentration. Make sure there is no doubt whatsoever about what level of support you or your partner need and prepare for the contingency before the game.

  • Every match you umpire must begin with you being entirely focused on the job at hand.
  • Ensure you are prepared pre match so that your focus is at its highest level.
  • Establish eye contact with your colleague at every possible moment.
  • Establish proper techniques for maintaining concentration during the match.
  • Take responsibility for your actions and decisions. Rely on your partner to do likewise.
  • Double your effort if you feel your colleague is losing focus.
  • Take the time to have a post match evaluation.
  • Recognising your weaknesses is the first step towards solving them.

Monday 4 January 2016

Keeping Yourself Focused - Post Match

You might not think that concentration levels would be an issue after the match but the need for an evaluation at the end of the day prepares you for the next day. This can be in the form of a self-evaluation or done with the help of your colleague. Start from the last over of the day and work backwards to the beginning.

The end of the day is fresh in your mind and most often if a lapse occurred that will generate the most information for evaluation. If you have been focused all day you will be surprised at the amount of detail you can recall. If however you were not focused all day there will be “black holes” in your memory which was more than likely when mistakes could have occurred. Ask yourself honestly, “Was that a lapse in concentration or an error in judgment?”

If you don’t have this evaluation on your level of focus you cannot compose a blueprint for improvement.

Saturday 2 January 2016

Keeping Yourself Focused - During the Match

The goal should be to know when, how and on what to concentrate. It should also include recognition of opportunities to relax, as relaxation is crucial.

The time to concentrate is w hen the ball is in play . When a passage of play commences, the focus of attention should be broad, taking in a range of issues, for example:

  • The readiness of the batsman. 
  • If appropriate, the locations of the fieldsmen. 
  • An awareness of attempts to distract the batsman by the wicket keeper or fieldsmen. 
  • Any plan or trap set by the fielding team to exploit a batsman’s weakness.

The umpire needs to be aware of such aspects and have them all under a broad field of observation.

As the bowler moves in so the umpire’s focus of attention narrows, the batsman is ready, the field is in the correct place, there is no attempt to distract the batsman, so now the umpire’s attention has progressively narrowed exclusively to the position of the bowler’s feet at point of delivery.

Immediately the ball is released the focus of attention moves quickly to the flight of the ball, and remains fixed on the ball. Some umpires may prefer to let the ball come into view rather than make a conscious effort to pick up the ball in flight.

Where next to focus attention is dependant upon the outcome of what the batsman does. If the ball is allowed to pass, the focus remains on the ball all the way into the wicket keeper’s gloves, or if missed by the wicket keeper, the focus broadens to take in the fieldsman and the batsmen running for byes.

If the ball is edged behind the wicket, the focus is on the ball until it is in the hands of the slip fieldsmen or wicket keeper, or if it passes them, the focus broadens to take in the fieldsman and the batsmen running.

If the batsman plays the ball to other parts of the field the focus broadens to take in the fieldsman and batsmen as necessary.

In the event of a potential run-out the focus will quickly narrow again from the fieldsman and the batsman running to the crease, the ball hitting the wicket or being taken by the wicket keeper or a fieldsman and the position of the batsman in relation to the popping crease.

If the ball hits the pads, the focus must be on recall and evaluation of all 5 components of LBW to decide the outcome of the inevitable appeal and then, if appropriate, quickly broaden to take in the fieldsmen and the batsmen in the event of leg byes. As soon as the ball is dead, the umpires should take the opportunity to relax, both physically and mentally. This routine is repeated for every ball throughout the match. To develop a successful routine takes practice, patience and persistence. In summary, the routine is as follows:

  • As a passage of play commences, a wide field of observation with broad range of focus.
  • As the bowler moves in, observation and focus narrows progressively to the position of the bowler’s feet at the point of delivery.
  • After the bowler releases the ball, focus remains on the ball in flight or letting the ball come into your line of vision.
  • After the batsman plays the ball, focus either remains on the ball or, if appropriate, broadens to take in the fieldsmen as well as the batsmen.
  • If a run-out is on, focus progressively narrows to the batting crease, the putting down of the wicket and the position of the batsman. · When the ball becomes dead, broaden focus totally and relax, relax and relax.

The ability to concentrate can be acquired through the development of a set routine by practicing the routine at local club training sessions, and then consistently implementing it under match conditions and monitoring and evaluating how well it is done on a continuous basis.