#Askfhu is our ongoing series of posts that focus on a single umpiring issue that you may have been or likely will be faced with at some point in your career. We'll focus on giving you tangible and effective strategies to deal with the situation. We also want to hear about your experiences and suggestions so don't be shy, get your comments on below!
A wonderfully big question was posed on FieldHockeyForum's Umpiring Corner: how can we implement early management better? Personally, I've struggled with this the majority of my career and only recently found a formula thanks to some fantastic coaching by the NPUA‘s Liz Pelling (thank you again Liz!).
This may or may not be useful for lower-level games, but certainly helps me in big ones: I have a list of 6 “opportunity” items that I require of myself to manage the very first time I see them occur. “Manage” does not necessarily mean cards and upgrades but could simply be communication. If cards are required, however, I have to be on it.
1. Ball placement
2. Establish 5m (both teams)
3. Hitting ball away
4. 1st breakdown tackle
5. PC setup (standing still then moving into routine)
6. Use captain
Some FHFers already know I'm a visual person so I actually write these 6 opportunities on my hand before every game. If I have time, I sometimes even check them off with my pen just like a to-do list (yeah, I roll like that). If I hit every one of these events as they occur and manage them properly, I'm confident I can handle anything that a game can throw at me and I believe the players are confident in me as well.
For me, it's a recipe for consistency that promotes early proactivity and intervention. Players understand immediately, at the first possible moment, what they cannot do (as Trig said, no surprises). Once you see the first event and manage it, any repeats are so much easier to spot and the progression feels very natural – you're doing exactly as the players expect you to do, and as you expect yourself to do it, because you've laid out the path with your first intervention. I can analyze any game I watch – including my own – and be able to pinpoint the event where “everything went wrong”, because it's a missed opportunity to manage the first event properly.
And yes, sometimes we get away with missing management opportunities because the game is well in hand for one side, or there's lots of nice players out there that particular day, or the moon is in Mars ascendency or whatever… but when it goes wrong, it's very clear why.
Do you have any tricks that help you implement an umpiring strategy in a tangible way? Let us know in the comments!