Umpires are an important part of netball, without them the game simply cannot happen. As an umpire remember that you control the game and the players. Without you the game could not take place.
There comes a time when you might feel you want to garb the whistle and have a go at umpiring. There is no doubt that it is tough at first, as a player, it’s often easy to spot a penalty (such as contact or a lesser offence such as footwork).
As an umpire as soon as you pick up that whistle, scorecard and timer its tough – all of sudden all of those decisions are your responsibility. Everyone’s eyes will be on you hoping that you get it right.
As an umpire, you have primary responsibility for the safety of the players. You must check that the court surface is safe to play on with no ice or dangerous things such as tennis postholes.
For your own safety as well as the players, check the courtside areas before the match begins for water bottles, pools of water, sports bags with straps and other perilous items. For the safety of players make sure that they are not wearing jewellery, including in their piercings or anything sharp such as zips. You should also check that players have the appropriate kit and suitable footwear.
As a new umpire it’s worth practicing on friendly matches or matches played in training sessions. It’s a good opportunity to see if you really like umpiring and to build your skills and confidence. Good umpires develop a level of empathy with the players and it is often mentioned that the best umpires are those who are not noticed by the players.
The umpire should wear kit that identifies that they are the umpire; do not for example wear the same colours as the teams and always wear suitable training shoes. When you blow the whistle it should be short and sharp, any vocal instructions should be able to be heard by the other umpire (if there is one) and by all players.
Before you start umpiring, netballpost.com recommends that you read and re-read the rulebook. This may seem to be an obvious suggestion but many players feel that they already know the rules – but often this knowledge is not of sufficient depth to control a game as an umpire.
A netball game is different every time it is played so the more you understand the rules and how they apply the more respect you will get from the players. It will also contribute to enhancing the quality of the game.
If a player wants to discuss a call you have made at quarter, half or full time you will instantly have more credibility as an umpire when you can confidently quote the rulebook to backup your call.
If you know another umpire – speak to them, explain that you are a trainee umpire and would like to have the opportunity to umpire more matches. Qualified umpires are a great source of knowledge and they will be more than happy to share this with a new, up and coming umpire. These experienced umpires will understand the enjoyment as well as the frustration that umpiring can bring. They may also be able to coach or mentor you as you get nearer to an umpiring test date.
- Buy a netball rule book and read and read it to learn the rules
- Obtain required kit e.g. a whistle and score cards link what should I wear
- Find teams looking for an umpire. Look at the netballpost.com message board.
Get another umpire to ‘buddy’ you on your first few games – if you can
- Ensure the standard of the teams you offer to umpire for are not beyond your umpiring capabilities
- Ask more experienced umpires to help you improve
- When are confident enough apply for your Beginner Award
Depending where you live you should send in your application with the required test fee to your Netball County Umpiring secretary. Further information can be obtained from the All England Netball Association.
If you are tested by yourself you will be required to umpire for up to 15 minutes. If there are two of you being tested you will umpire up to 25 minutes. You will be expected to show your ability in applying the basic netball rules for controlling the game by:
- Penalising correctly obvious infringements of the rules correct use of voice, whistle and terminology
- positioning correctly
- their ability to keep a correct scorecard and to call the score and Centre Pass.
- Answer correctly a minimum of 40 questions requiring “Yes” or “No” answers from 50 written questions.
After you successfully complete your test you will receive a copy of your Beginner umpiring test-rating sheet.
The written part of the test may be taken any time in the playing season in which the practical test is to be taken. If the practical test is not taken in the same playing season or if a candidate fails a Practical test for a second time the pass paper lapses and it must be retaken.
The Beginner Umpiring Award will be valid for 4 years and you should progress to the C award within this time. If you do not pass the C Award you may retake the Beginner Award but after another 4 years the award will no longer be valid and the Beginner test may not be retaken.
Take the ‘C’ Award
- Ensure you talk your umpiring experiences with other umpires
- Ask for views on how more senior umpires think you are doing
- Take the ‘C’ umpiring award
Your application form should be sent to your County Umpiring Secretary together with the test fee.
You will be required to umpire for at least 30 minutes and you must show your ability to:
- Penalise correctly obvious infringements of the rules
- Have correct use of your whistle, voice and terminology
- Position and move yourself correctly
- Have an appropriate appearance and manner
- Keep a correct scorecard and to call the score and Centre Pass
- Answer correctly a minimum of 17 questions requiring “Yes” or “No” answers from 20 written questions.
You will receive a written assessment of your ‘C’ test and if you’ve passed, you will be registered on the England Netball of ‘C’ Umpires. If you pass the umpiring part but fail the written test you can retake the questions within 4 weeks without having to pay any further fee.
If you pass the questions but fail the umpiring you can apply again after a 3-month period. The written part remains valid for 12 months.
When you pass you’ll get a certificate signed by the Regional Umpiring Secretary and you can by an ‘C’ award metal badge which is useful to prove you have reached this level of umpiring.
You must hold the ‘C’ umpiring award before you take the ‘B’ Award. A practical assessment by a minimum of ‘B’ tester will tell you whether you are good enough to send in your ‘B’ application form with the required fee.
You will have 2 testers when you umpire for at least 48 minutes i.e. 4 x 12 minutes. You will be expected to:
- Control a high proportion of faults that occur in your obvious line of vision and demonstrate some ability to see and control faults.
- Play an advantage game if you want to
- Evidence a sufficient level of fitness
- Use accurate terminology, effective communication and wise movement
- Answer satisfactorily a minimum of 7 oral questions from 10 questions.
- You may provide your own scorers and in the event that one umpire does not wish to have scorers then both umpires will keep the score.
When only the oral questions are failed, you can retake this section within 6 weeks with no additional fee being required. The oral pass remains valid for 12 months.
When the practical is failed but the questions passed, after 3 months you can apply again by paying a fee within a year.
When you pass your ‘B’ award you will be registered on the England Netball list of ‘B’ Umpires, receive a certificate signed by the England Netball Honorary Secretary for Umpiring Awards and will be given a metal ‘B’ umpiring grade badge.
After achieving the ‘B’ award
‘B’ Award/Intermediate Umpires who wish to progress to the next level of Award may apply to the England Netball Honorary Secretary for Umpiring Awards for a Blue card to record their umpiring experience.
A card is automatically sent, with the certificate and badge, to those candidates achieving a ‘ Good Pass’ in the ‘B’ Award test.
You must hold the ‘B’ Award for Umpiring before you apply to your County Umpiring Secretary to take the ‘A’ level written paper on the second weekend in May and the third weekend in November.
Applications should reach the County Umpiring Secretary 9 weeks prior to the test dates for forwarding to the Secretary for the ‘A’ Award c/o the Technical Department at England Netball Head Office, 6 weeks prior to the test dates.
You will have up to 3 hours in which to answer different types of questions relating to all sections of the current Rules Book. Past papers are available from England Netball.
If you pass you will receive a registration slip stating that you can apply for the Practical ‘A’ test for which you must:
- Have had at least one year’s experience in umpiring various types of matches such as club, county, factory, youth organisation or school, since passing the ‘B’/Intermediate Award.
- Enter evidence of this experience on the Blue Record Cards – a minimum of eight games at National Clubs or County League level must be recorded.
- Have officiated at one or more England Netball National Tournament / Area rounds of National Youth / Junior and National Schools and undergone a formal assessment on one or more games for the duration of one hour on the same day. This assessment must be conducted by any current FENA ‘A’ Award Tester
- Apply for the practical test by 31st December within 4 years from the year of passing the written test.
You will be tested by A’ Award Testers at 3 at National Clubs League and/or English Counties League County matches in November, December, February and March of each season and at events specified by the England Netball umpiring Committee. You will be watched umpiring for at least one hour and you need to satisfy the testers with:
- Your practical umpiring ability
- Answering oral questions, either by explanation or, at the candidate’s discretion, by demonstration
You will receive a written assessment of the test. If you pass, a certificate signed by the England Netball President and a metal badge will be issued while your name will be added to the England Netball Panel of ‘A’ Umpires. Holders of this award are required to be assessed every four years by participating in the monitoring system devised by the England Netball Umpiring Committee.
Beyond your ‘A’ umpiring award is the IFNA international umpire award and further details can be obtained from England Netball.