By David Ellcock
In a recent Hockey Paper piece, I suggested that people should just try umpiring and that this might lead to their getting the bug and wanting to take the next step. But what does that next step look like? It’s nothing like as daunting as you might think.
England Hockey encourage people to try umpiring at club level, whether this is at training, during friendlies and pre-season matches, or even at junior events. The last option might be the best place to start as England Hockey have made it clear that absolutely no official umpiring accreditation is required to help with either Quicksticks or In2Hockey. Training for these formats can be accessed in the ‘Teachers’ section of the HockeyHub. There are umpiring guides and videos that will help you on your way in either format.
If you’d rather take your first step in the 11-a-side game, and want the comfort of a course to back you up, then EH offer a 3-hour “Introduction to Umpiring” session that provides details on the basics of umpiring and a lot of practical time on the pitch for you to have a go and practise in a live environment at club level.
To move on to umpiring regularly in a league you will need to take the EH Level 1 course. This is a 7-hour course, split 50/50 between classroom and practical exercises. This provides you with the opportunity to learn the basic elements and theories of umpiring and then put them into practice.
On completion of the course you immediately become a “Level 1 Unassessed” (L1U) umpire. This status doesn’t expire and allows you to umpire at the lower levels of league hockey for as long as you wish. It also gives you the chance to practise your umpiring before moving onto the assessed level, if that’s what takes your fancy.
Once you’ve properly caught the bug, progression is through assessment to become a “Level 1 Assessed” (L1A) umpire. This assessment can be undertaken by anyone from your local County Hockey Umpiring Association or any umpire of Level 2 (Regional League) status or above. You can be assessed on any competitive 11-a-side game between two teams of at least U15 status from different clubs, or two teams from a single club in an adult league competition. Once you’ve passed the assessment, there is no requirement to umpire a minimum number of games per season and, just like L1U, there is no expiry date on L1A, therefore, you can call yourself an umpire forever more.
The next step on the ladder is to seek assessment by your local County HUA, after successful completion of which you will be regularly appointed to league games as a neutral umpire. As your umpiring develops, you may well then be selected to move up to Level 2 and then Level 3 (National League). At these levels progression is very much in the hands of the coaches and assessors who will regularly work with you and help you to develop your umpiring skills.
As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities to develop your umpiring, whether as a club umpire or beyond. There is a huge amount of supporting information available from the EH website in the ‘Officiate’ section, or you could approach anyone who you see umpiring at your club. We’re generally a pretty friendly bunch.
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