Umpires Corner

Welcome to Umpiring at Harpenden Hockey Club

Our umpires are essential for the success of our sport, we are very lucky at Harpenden Hockey Club to have a fantastic group of umpires that give up their time to help players enjoy their game, however we are always looking to recruit more umpires or develop our existing umpires.

We’re here to help you develop your umpiring skills, explain some of the formalities about umpiring, and provide further learning resource.

At HHC we encourage anyone and everyone to practice umpiring because every game of hockey requires two umpires and the more competent the umpire the more enjoyable each game should be.

The following pages provide information which suitable for everyone; players, coaches, parents, juniors and seniors alike, some of whom might simply want to obtain a better understanding of the rules of hockey or perhaps to start umpiring. Whatever the motivation - you can start to get involved right here!

How to get started

As a new or inexperienced umpire, you should first complete the EH On-line rules and an Introduction to Umpiring Course. This will give you an excellent introduction to umpiring and will equip you with many of the skills and confidence to do so effectively.

Create your own learning profile on: Hockey Hub and sign up.

On the Hub site, click ‘UMPIRE”, you can then choose from any of the following;

  • Rules of Hockey;
  • You’re the Umpire – this provides a series of videos to watch and listen;
  • Umpire Development Modules; this tab enables you to review different elements of umpiring including;
  • Decision communication;
  • Umpiring the aerial ball;
  • Umpiring stick tackles;
  • Umpiring foul play;
  • Umpiring attacking free hits.

The England Hockey material mentioned above, whilst very helpful, is really aimed at the more sophisticated end of the scale using international games as examples of different interpretation of the rules. Do not become despondent because the vast majority of games are not played like this at Club Level. I would say 99% of games are not played at this pace or level of skill but they are interesting as they raise a host of discussion points!

How HHC can help?

Wherever you might be in terms of your knowledge and understanding of the rules of hockey and umpiring there are people in the Club only too happy to help. Nigel Morris our own Umpire Liaison Officer is very keen to help at any stage in your personal umpiring development. We are trying to schedule a Level One Umpiring course for anyone who wishes to undertake the course with a view to umpiring at some point.

Umpiring Policy at Harpenden Hockey Club

The club has an umpiring policy it expects all playing members and teams to follow:

  1. It is expected that everybody, all players and umpires, has read the FiH Hockey Rules (see Rules & Resources section). There is a FiH App that can be downloaded on iOS/Android that give quick access to relevant information and rules.
  2. The policy will be that teams will provide umpires for the following games and the expectation is that players will umpire on a rotational basis.
  3. All Harpenden Hockey Club players must be respectful and socially inclusive of umpires with any constructive dialogue and feedback to be provided after games (applies to all matches).
  4. The club have invested in two radios (planning on purchasing two more). We will continue to use radios which make it easier for newer umpires to team up with other umpire, we will promote team umpiring as much as possible.
  5. Benefit for umpiring - match fee is waived for any player who plays and umpires on the same day.
  6. Finally, Nigel Morris our Umpire Liaison Officer welcome people to contact him to discuss how to get over the initial nerves and fear people might have with umpiring...providing a mentoring model or having an experience umpire to help you with your initial games.

Rules and Resources

Here are the rules themselves (PDF download and/or via the FiH app)

  • FIH - Rules of Hockey June 2023 update.pdf

England Hockey have some superb resources to help umpires learn and develop, they are located within their Hockey Hub. Take the free online rules test from England Hockey 

Umpire and Technical Committee briefing video release in 2022 to give you an understanding of the new rules:

  1. The new FIH rules for 2022
  2. Overheads
  3. High risk tackles

Other interesting resources are available across the internet, such as the FIH Umpire briefing video used prior to the Rio 2016 Olympics.

How to Umpire Hockey Guide

A user guide "How to Umpire Hockey" produced by Hockey WA, that covers the fundamentals, positioning, communication and signals.

Top Tips for Umpiring

Some of us like the challenge - we relish the opportunity to tell people what to do, to show off our knowledge of the rules of hockey, and to contribute to the club. Some of us find it intimidating. We're all here to have fun, here to help with our top ten tips to win at umpiring.

1 - Blow your whistle firmly and loudly

  1. Seriously, it should be a lot louder than you'd think. A loud whistle indicates a confident umpire. It lets the player know you know what you're doing (even if you don't) 

2 - Much like playing, it’s all about positioning. Some tips…  

  1. Keep to the right of the ball 
  2. Don’t go further upfield than the other 23 
  3. Get into your D well ahead of the ball arriving there if possible (so you can see play develop from vantage point ahead of it) 
  4. Get all the way across to left post if needed when action is in your D 

3 - Blow what you see. If you’re not sure, look to your colleague. If the players challenge it, smile and explain that you can only call what you see. 

  1. Here are some helpful turns of phrase (always starting with a smile):
  2. "I understand... but what I saw was [the offense]
  3. “Sorry, I saw [the offense]”
  4. “I hear you, but I'm sorry, if I didn’t see it I can’t call it”

4 - Work with your fellow umpire. Stop time and confer with the other umpire 

  1. If you’re unsure about a call, look to your colleague who should indicate what they have seen. If neither of you are sure or it is contentious, stop the time and confer. 
  2. When you are agreed, explain to the players what the decision was and restart time.

5 - If you think it’s dangerous - it’s dangerous 

  1. There is no definition in the rules of what is “dangerous” beyond “a ball that causes legitimate evasive action by players”. Due to the word legitimate, umpires have to judge the danger based on the skill levels of the defenders and the shot’s speed, trajectory and distances involved.
  2. Can a shot at goal be dangerous? Yes. 

6 - Use the captains to give warnings to the teams 

  1. If there is any recurring or unsafe behaviours stop the game, call the captains in, and tell them to warn their team to change their behaviour. 
  2. If it continues, don’t be afraid to use your cards. 

7 - Don’t be afraid to give a card, but don't throw them about

  1. Green = 2 minutes - green cards are used more commonly these days to help players enjoy the game. They're not seen as punishment as much as controlling the game. If one green card eliminates shouting for rest of game (which it will) the general niggle level will be lower.
  2. Yellow = minimum of 5 minutes - yellow cards are more serious and should be used when there is intentional dangerous play. 
  3. Red = until the end of the match - red cards are, of course, the most serious and come with a minimum 2 week ban and a lot of paper work. We should use them considerately but it is worth noting as a club we have instructed all our umpires that they should award an immediate red card to anyone who swears at them, calls them a cheat or is physically or verbally aggressive to them.
  4. A personal penalty may be awarded in addition to the appropriate penalty

8 - Communicate loudly and clearly. 

  1. If you’re giving an advantage SHOUT “advantage, play on”
  2. If you ask players to go 5 and they don’t, ask again and use your whistle.  

9 - Don’t take bad chat. From players, coaches or spectators. 

  1. The rules are clear, it’s completely unacceptable for any player, sub or coach to abuse, seek to intimidate, make snarky comments or otherwise disrespect or dissent with an umpire. 
  2. Do not wait to address low-level/ annoying comments being passed your way or vociferously appealing etc. Warn the players the first time or two (“Guys, no more please”) then enlist colleague’s help as above. Stamping on it early in the game is far better than trying to rein it in later.

10 - Have fun! 

New to Hockey

Harpenden Hockey Club welcome new players of any age who want to pick up the sport. Below are a series of videos to help new players understand the rules (videos from FiH) a handy guide to everything field hockey!

Hockey the Basic

Umpire Signals

5 Meter Rule

Green,Yellow and Red Cards

Dangerous Play!

How to Score a Goal

Penalty Corners

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