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.