April 28, 2012

Look at the umpire!

Recognize the following situation?

After the umpire blows the whistle, the game stops or slows down, and players are looking at each other and trying to figure out what went wrong, what decision was made, and where to take the free pass or the penalty pass. Some are talking loudly to each other, some are turned to the umpire trying to listen and some are just standing silently with big question marks over their heads.

Clearly, the communication between the umpire and the players has faulted... But the interesting question is – who is to blame?

Part of the answer to why this happens may be the inability of the umpire to communicate his/her decision to the players. For sure, the reason for "chaos" on court IS sometimes the umpire and his/her behaviour. Remember that it is the responsibility of the umpire to act with a clear and loud whistle/voice, and to use correct terminology and hand signals to clarify the decisions. This comes with knowledge, experience and training, and it takes time and effort to develop an effective pattern of communication.

HOWEVER, communication involves both a sender and a receiver, so players can help umpires to develop in this process by responding to whistles with correct behaviour. For example: turning your head to your co-player or an opponent with a question mark over your head after the whistle is NOT correct behaviour. Turning your head to your co-player or opponent and asking "what happened?" is NOT correct behaviour either.

Instead, when the umpire blows the whistle:
  1. Look at the umpire.
  2. Listen to the umpire.
  3. Act accordingly.
It’s not harder than this - but good to remember (more often than one may think). Following these three simple guidelines will cause less frustration on court. The game will be faster and have a better flow to it. Understanding the rules and especially the difference between "free pass" and "penalty pass" is of course essential for players, but this is another topic.

To sum up, both players and umpires have to work together.

No comments:

Post a Comment