It’s been stressed to me countless times by UMs and other mentors: you must have a great first game at a tournament. It’s your first impression with your UM, TD and the teams. That game will largely dictate how the rest of your tournament will go in terms of appointments and whether you’ll get further chances to show what you can do in big games.
This was not the start I was looking for.
Yes, I’m very hard on myself. I’ve virtually been my own umpiring coach for so much of my career, so somebody had to come down hard on me when I’m not up to standard. And that game was not up to my standard.
The good news is that my technical decision-making, as one of my traditional strengths, was very good. I felt like I didn’t blow the whistle too much and stayed out of the way of the players whenever I could. There may have been a couple of minor things, but I can’t remember anything cringe-worthy and nothing was pointed out to me in the debrief.
However, my positioning wasn’t up to par. I seemed to get caught square to the play in my circle several times (which I had to and did fix in Berlin, but apparently I didn’t succeed in making the fix permanent). I also didn’t have the best spot on the Belarussian breakout. Given that the Japanese were able to jump quickly on any mistakes and were VERY fast on the counter, taking a deeper position was a pretty basic read.
We all know that accuracy is dependent on good positioning, so I’m not sure how I avoided getting myself into trouble. I’m sure it helped that the game was quite open and not contentious (ending in a 10-2 scoreline).
I was happy with my preparation in general and I felt good going in, but there’s a few things I would do differently in the same situation. Knowing there was a good chance it would be a one-sided game, I should have asked my colleague if I could control the end where most of the attacking action would be in the first half, getting me in to the pace and style of the game right away instead of being a spectator for the first 35 minutes. I think I got distracted with the things I was watching rather than losing myself in the zone. I was just too much of a spectator for the 35 min. I was involved in the game.
So it wasn’t a disaster, but I’m definitely not happy with myself. I took a couple of days before writing the post because I often need a little time and distance before sharing my observations out loud. Now I feel more positive and ready to do what I need to do mentally to put in the kind of performance on my next game that I want. Tomorrow is a rest day so I’ll have more time to put that game behind me and formulate my next game plan. Onwards and upwards!