Planning and preparation for the season

Jacqui Jashiri umpiring
Jacqui Jashiri umpiring
Author:  Jacqui Jashari
Issue: Volume 8 Number 1

‘Officials are responsible for their own actions’ — you’ve probably heard this many times. It means  being responsible for more than the decisions we make and the way we conduct ourselves during a match or event: more than just the procedures and protocols we use. Being responsible for your own actions is also about the responsibility to be prepared for the season. How you:

  • manage your time
  • set goals
  • mentally and physically prepare
  • make sure you stay up-to-date on the current management and rules of your game.

To manage all of this well you should put in place a professional and personal development plan.There are a number of ‘elements of development’ which should give you an idea of the responsibilities that officials should be thinking about.

Elements of development

  • technical
  • skills
  • mental
  • physical
  • performance

with specific focus in each of these elements on:

  • concentration
  • preparation
  • fitness
  • training
  • vision and timing
  • positioning

All these elements are about ‘consistency’ and they are all as important in pre-season as during the games!

Time management and organisation

Good life balance factors in work, family time, study, personal time, training and game time. Stress and poor training and performance are usually good indicators that things are not in balance.

Develop a timetable that integrates your training and match time with your normal day and other activities.

  • Nutrition and hydration: eat well and follow a recognised plan for the amount of training you do. Know when and what to eat to ensure good results.
  • Be planned and organised but always be prepared for when things don’t go according to plan.
  • Equipment: make sure any equipment you need for officiating is clean, working and in good order.
  • Travel: know what is best for your own body when you travel. Some basic things to consider are: stretching sufficiently after officiating, staying hydrated and eating well, and wearing compression clothing when travelling to aid recovery. Crossing time zones is also tough but there are a few ways you can deal with this — find the best one for you!

Mental and physical

The type of sport you are officiating will dictate when you start your training and what type of training you do. In sports that require officials to have a high fitness level, you don’t really stop training, but lessen the load at the end of the season and build back into more specific training as the season comes closer.

All-year-round general fitness training will lead into more strength and sprint training, approximately ten weeks out from competition. It is essential that training is always specific to what you do in competition. That is really important!

Mental toughness and how you cope and focus starts well before the season begins. Physical and mental training go together pre-season, particularly when doing practice matches. It is important that the way you officiate in practice matches is no different to the way you would perform in a competition or big game — this will build your confidence. Procedures and protocols should come naturally during games, which allows you more time to work on other skills and techniques which affect your decision-making.

Currency and rules

  • Attend any courses and rule discussions to update your knowledge prior to and during the season. Even if you have completed the same course the year before, it is always good to refresh your knowledge — quite often you will learn at least one new thing.
  • Reading the rule book is the obvious way of staying current but even more important is learning how to apply the rules to the game — having an understanding of their application and their interaction with other rules is essential.
  • Use the knowledge of more experienced officials or your mentors: they are a great resource!

To give an expert performance it takes about 10 000 hours of deliberate practice. This relates back to the elements of development model. Aim to prepare well in the pre-season, work hard to maintain and improve your performance every time you officiate, and always aim for consistency.

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