Meeting of Minds

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Post match meetings, as the name suggests, are meetings conducted following the match (within thirty minutes) involving participating club captains, coaches and field umpires. Meetings of this nature have occurred in cricket at national and state level for some years. The meetings are facilitated by Ďan independent personí, e.g. League executive member.

The purpose of the meetings is to provide a forum following the match where a number of match-day issues can be discussed. Involving the captains, coaches and umpires is critical as they contribute significantly to the match-day environment.

Post match meetings were trialled in a number of football settings over the last couple of years, including East Fremantle Junior District, Southern Football League and most recently in the Geelong Football League where all senior clubs participated in a meeting following one of their matches.

The meetings follow a set agenda which provided some structure for the discussion.

The following discussion points were raised at post match meetings conducted in the Geelong Football League this season:

  • Match-day environments - off-field, on-field, co-operation between clubs, participants, officials
  • Match management - strategies the umpire used to match manage and control the match
  • Review of the match
    • Areas that were frustrating to the coaches and players
    • Interpretation and decision making process of particular laws including holding the ball, ducking the head, hands in the back and deliberate out of bounds
    • What constituted a melee and what should result in a send-off?
  • Umpire selection - how umpires are appointed/selected to particular matches
  • Protecting the ball carrier - coaches highlighted that they want players to be protected when they are "playing the ball" with their "head over the ball"
  • Consistency Ė reinforce the elements that make consistent umpiring performance and that it is not necessarily free kick ratios but rather consistent interpretation and getting free kicks correct

Some general points made following the post-match meetings:

  • Coaches enjoyed the opportunity to engage with umpires and wanted post match meetings to continue
  • There was outstanding discussion between coaches, captains and umpires
  • They provided a forum for bringing together and understanding the differing perspectives

Some specific examples from the meetings included:

  • An umpire felt players werenít listening to his explanations.  The coach explained that often, with the advantage rule, this was due to the ball moving on and suggested that the umpire spend less time explaining decisions when the ball has moved on.  The captain stressed that it was still important that umpires explained their decisions to players though.
  • A captain explained that the umpires could have controlled the mark better because at times players were not aware exactly where the mark was.  The captain suggested that an umpire should always attempt to tell the player where the mark is.
  • A captain remarked that allowing players to talk to an umpire throughout the match was appreciated and helped them understand interpretations.  The umpires explained that as long as players approached umpires in a civil manner they were happy to discuss their decision making.
  • The coaches and captains felt the match was managed best when the umpires did not impose themselves on the game.  They stressed that the less demonstrative the umpire was the better the rapport with the players tended to be.  The umpires agreed and suggested that when the players played in the spirit of the game there was little need for them to impose themselves.

There were a number of learnings for umpires and coaches/captains as a result of the discussions and importantly the opportunity for captains, coaches and umpires to better understand each otherís role on match day which should lead to a better experience for all.

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