Thursday, May 23, 2024

Secret Hockey Coach: Time for code of silence to stop abuse and protect umpires

So, another season of indoor has come and gone. Improvements were made, the tournaments I was at had a higher playing standard than last year. At one such event, I was on the periphery of a conversation with three ccoaches who had decided to take the idea of using indoor to work on team deficiencies… Glad to see you read this column!

The one thing that was disheartening, however, was the level of abuse, vitriol and commentary towards the umpires.

At this point I should point out that I wasn’t perfect. As a player I have been carded for dissent, as a coach I have suffered the same fate. A few TD’s have had to calm me down and threaten me with removal over the years.

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  1. Excellent thank you for this. In London we have instituted a “protect and support the official” initiative that is starting to gain momentum and seeing positive change. But inevitably it has that will to change has to come from clubs, from players and from coaches. I hope others heed your call.

    • I’ve recently experienced an issue with a London umpire who was noticeably biased towards her own team.
      Caused tempers to get very out of control when she was letting dangerous tackles happen from the home team, but proceeded to punish the exact same thing from the opposition.
      Even worse her own club knew exactly who it was when we described what happened without mentioning any names.
      Very sad as without it was a really exciting game for both teams. And left bad feeling afterwards.
      Home team didn’t even go back to their own clubhouse. Probably due to it.

  2. As an umpire I have learnt an excellent method of stopping abuse in its tracks. When I’ve had enough I call both captains over and tell them the Rules say abusing a player, umpire or match official is unacceptable (Umpiring 2.3 in the Rules). I also tell them that the Rules say they are responsible for the behaviour of all their players (Captains 3.4). “So this is what is going to happen. Next person who opens their mouth is going on a yellow and you will be joining them for failing to control their players after a warning. Now go tell your team mates the good news.” Unsurprisingly there is very little dissent after that. If there is, remind the captain to hand over the armband before leaving the field and suggest he doesn’t take it back when he comes back on as it couldl be a second yellow for the same offence thus upgraded to a red. Warn the “new captain” to take his responsibilities seriously. The only criticism I have had for pulling this “stunt” is that I should have done it sooner. I have had one plonker open his mouth and the captain walked over to him, put his stick up to the players mouth and told him if he didn’t shut up the stick would be going down his throat til came out his A***hole. I thanked the captain for his cooperation.

  3. As someone relatively new to the whistle, I think we often forget (myself included at times when playing…) that Umpires are learning too; it’s not just players that develop and improve over time!

  4. This is definitely a laudable approach if you set an example as a coach – what really affects my focus (and hence decision making) as an umpire is low-level, but constant challenging of each and every decision. There can be dissent or even discussions of big calls (if they stay civilised), but not every stick tackle at the half-way line needs to be challenged. Thins like that have ruined more than one weekend for me.

    Tim’s initiative must be applauded as well as it will put a spotlight on this sort of behaviour and will help to identify the “usual suspects”.

  5. 100%. Maybe it is time for clubs to take responsibility by having a code of conduct which includes suspending their own players for dissent/abuse?


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