Season in Review

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Recently umpire coaches involved with the AFL Umpire Coach Professional Development Program participated in teleconferences covering a wide range of topics related to the coaching of umpires.

One such topic was ‘reviewing the season’. 

The teleconference was an opportunity for umpire coaches from across Australia to share ideas about how various groups:

  • currently review their season,
  • ascertain whether the season was successful
  • separate formal and informal review processes

Evaluating all aspects of the coaching program allows the umpiring group to better understand the areas they are doing well and the areas that could be improved the following year.

When discussing how groups currently review their season various ideas were put forward:

Reviewing training

Umpiring groups that record attendances at training throughout the year should be able to track whether attendances have improved throughout the year.  This allows the group to measure whether adding variety to training by introducing new activities has improved attendance numbers.  Various reports can be run to measure:

  • Did overall attendance rates improve?
  • Did training attendance decrease at a particular stage of the season?

It is also important to survey umpires to track satisfaction levels with training. 

  • Are people enjoying themselves at training?
  • Do they enjoy the variety of adding classroom activities to the training program?
Engage the umpiring group

Engaging leadership groups to take an active role in any review is important to ensure the group has their say.  Young umpires might feel more comfortable providing feedback to their peers rather than speaking with the coaches.

It is important to survey the entire group of umpires to make them feel that their input is valued.  Often the findings from anonymous surveys identify areas that the coaching group were not aware of.  Survey monkey is a free online survey system that allows groups to quantify data.

Another strategy is for the coach or leadership group to run small focus groups with umpires to discuss positives and negatives from the season.

Engaging clubs, coaches and players

Summaries from post match meetings allow groups to compile feedback from club coaches and captains.  It is important any review takes into consideration feedback from the clubs. 

Learn more about post match meetings

Some groups (and other sports) are surveying players to help gather information directly from the players on what they consider to be the areas conducted well and the areas needing attention.

One group even conducted a dinner with a football club where umpiring issues were canvassed. This had a twofold effect; it acted as a worthwhile education and research activity but also helped build the relationship between umpires and players.

Review against expectations

Umpiring groups should set expectations at the start of the season for a range of areas.  These expectations should guide the review process. 

It is important to review the performance of the coaches against their position descriptions.  Coaches can do this through self assessment, discussions with a trusted mentor, feedback from the leadership group and formal review from the board.

Ongoing review

It is important that groups review their progress at various stages throughout the season to allow them to track progress and improve the umpiring environment throughout the year rather than waiting for the end of the season to identify any areas needing attention.

Most umpiring groups conduct a mid-season review and an end-of-season review.

Formal v informal review

Informal discussions can often reveal as much as formal review meetings.  The important point to remember is to speak to a wide variety of stakeholders at every opportunity.

Umpires generally relish the opportunity to review their performance throughout the season.  This is normally conducted in a formal review meeting.  This provides an opportunity for the umpire coach to also seek some feedback on their performance throughout the year.

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