There is no single factor that determines consistency in this area however all would agree that having qualified and competent coaching, conditioning and medical teams remains a fundamental requirement to meeting performance challenges.
One of the main challenges facing umpire coaches is meeting the expectations of the football public, media, players and their coaches in light of the changing style, increased tempo, nature of play, and changing interpretations to the laws of the game.
For umpires to maintain consistency of interpretation and ensure even decision making under game situations for both teams in all matches is a huge challenge.
Consistency is paramount in umpiring to ensure all players receive equal justice under the laws. That consistency can only come from the umpires knowledge a common understanding. Being in the correct position and being observant, fit and confident in what they are doing is also critical.
These elements need to be addressed and monitored by the coaching staff to ensure good consistent umpiring contributes to the enjoyment of all those who follow and play football.
The greatest enjoyment comes from watching the players performing at full pace and exhibiting their skills, not from arguing about an umpire’s interpretation. Umpire coaching has an important role in influencing this area.
A huge part of umpiring is based on team work and knowing what your teammate will do in particular situations, when they will hold control, knowing when they will switch around.
It means that the umpire doesn’t need to take their eyes from play to see where their teammate is. Knowing what to do in a situation and knowing what decision your teammate will make, allows anticipation and better positioning for the next act of play.
Consistent interpretations and understanding the required movements and actions need to be embedded in the make-up of the umpires, and that needs to be explained, assessed and refined by the coaching staff.
Through the pathway for umpire development, the WAFL Talent Academy is working with talented umpires to develop their skills on their way to umpiring at League level, and some potentially at AFL level.
These up and coming umpires perform at their best but on occasions lack some of the finer points of positioning or law interpretations and are berated by players, coaches and the public.
This type of behaviour is counterproductive to the umpire pathway and the WAFL in general. Like young players, young umpires are developing their skills and abilities and should be provided with the same opportunity to do so, via their umpire coach.
There is only so much that can be addressed in a coaching lecture room and on the training track, and for their development they need, and deserve, the right to put into practice what they are being trained to do.
Match Day Coaches attend matches on behalf of the Umpiring Team and provide umpires with immediate feedback during the breaks to assist in the umpire’s development.
It must be said that never before has there been so much scrutiny of umpires and umpiring decisions. The increased scrutiny is not only coming from an umpire’s coach, but also from club coaches and other personnel who religiously scan through match footage.
Umpire coaches take on board the feedback from all the coaching staff, view footage of incidents, spend time with the particular umpires and work through the performance, discussing positives and where improvement is required.A program of set topics is laid out for discussion during the season, but depending on issues that may be brought to attention from week to week, programs are flexible and adjusted to address any areas of concern to ensure matches are officiated in the manner in which they should be.
Top: WAFL Match day coach and WAFL Talent Academy Coach Graeme Zanich.
Bottom: Umpire Coaches from back left Trevor Garrett, John Beaton, Andrew Ball, Bruce Wheatland, Robert Davies, Mike Pampacos, John Marrapodi. Front: Paul Beckers, Marty Tompkins, Geoff O`Neill, Darryl Sinclair, Colin Shawcross, Alan Meldrum, Rick Payne.