Mistakes are friends – advice for umpires.

 

Mistakes are friends

 

Stumps

The modern game is increasingly demanding on match officials and there is often pressure to provide explanation on decisions. Should umpires provide an explanation for a decision? The simple answer is “Yes” – if asked!

However, it is recommended to umpires that you do not offer explanations or enter into debate or heated post mortems.

Offering explanations to players for decisions when you haven’t been asked to provide one can cause embarrassing situations for umpires. It is best practice, in these situations, to speak on the field when you are spoken to.

Do not get into a protracted discussion, but it is totally acceptable, and indeed good manners, to answer a reasonably asked question. After all, you must have had a reason for making a particular decision – selling your decision and the reason can often be the challenge as many a good umpiring decision over the years has been spoilt with the umpire providing a less than satisfactory answer.

A captain is within his rights to seek a clarification on some decisions or aspects of the Laws. Communication in this instance should be clear, concise and respectful.

One of the traits of the successful umpire is that he/she is a good listener, it is important that you be shown as a good listener – being a good listener is a key component of effective communication.

The successful umpire will also have a genuine concern for the Laws and their application.

Positive interaction and communication between umpires and players will assist in fostering acceptance and respect.

Sometimes a query such as “What was wrong with that one?” could be answered with a simple “The ball pitched outside leg stump” or “The ball must hit him in line with the stumps, that one hit him outside the line.”

This type of concise answer can alleviate further animosity and indeed further futile appeals. A different degree of detail can be used as you build up a rapport with captains and players. This takes time and experience to develop fully.

It is usually best to deal with all queries such as this at the end of the over. This has a twofold effect by allowing aggression to dissipate and not affecting your concentration. Always answer with an even voice, be unhurried and show complete confidence. Never volunteer information (players will ask you if they want information) or try to justify a decision if you are not asked. Remember there is a huge difference between answering a simple query and justifying your every decision. Players and captains tend to tire of the umpire who tries to justify every decision.

If the player becomes rude or abusive during any conversation, remind him of the reason for the discussion which is to clarify what in your opinion, you have seen and heard, not what he would have liked to happen. Be firm but relaxed. It may be that you need to remind the player and the captain that you have explained your decision, but you are not entering into debate about it.

There is no need to offer apologies for errors. Decision making errors will happen – we are human after all. If you do make a mistake, learn from it and move on. Admitting and acknowledging an error is part of giving something closure, try not to compound a mistake with another one. The capacity to put things in perspective and move is crucial.

Never contemplate “evening up” as two wrongs do not make a right – it is one sure way to quickly lose respect of the players.

Ric Charlesworth writes that, “To the really resilient learner, mistakes are friends, not foes – mistakes can make us stronger and more determined, or they can leave us disillusioned and defeated.”

Charlesworth believes the only real defeat is death for it ends our capacity to adapt and change and improve.

Umpiring is a challenging task. Any task that is challenging and worth completing will not be finished without some disappointments and obstacles. There will be difficulties, hindrances and stumbling blocks along the way. Learning from mistakes and being patient are so important.

As Charlesworth writes,

  • “Too many people confuse ‘simple’ with ‘easy’ – the very best can make things look simple because of their competence, but we should remember that many hours of practice lie behind the simplicity.”
  • “Every day human beings display their capacity to overcome distress, adversity, disability and failure – we often learn best from our mistakes and misadventures for those experiences sharpen our resolve to prepare better, know ourselves better, improve and learn.”

The most successful people are the ones who handle adversity in the right manner, and every successful person has confronted adversity.

Key end of season matches are just around the corner in the many club competitions across the country. It’s a great time to be umpiring. Bruce Baxter, an experienced ex-cricketer and now umpire in the Clarence River Cricket Association competition, is well-known for saying, “March is the best month of the cricket season.”

How right Bruce is! Give yourself the best chance of doing well in these upcoming vital matches for the players and the clubs…..

  • Prepare as best you can
  • Remain yourself, be humble
  • Work well as a team and have trust in each other – “selflessness is the soul of teamwork” (Wayne Bennett)
  • Communicate effectively
  • Work on your routines and mental triggers so you’re in the present for every ball – having your mind where your body is will help you make consistently good decisions

As Wayne Bennett wrote, “The greatest thing we can do is prepare properly and play flat out and let the rest look after itself.”

Best wishes to all umpires and scorers across Australia from your colleagues in NSW. Have a great finish to the season. Enjoy your umpiring and scoring.

Darren Goodger
State Director of Umpiring (NSW)

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