In all my years of netball coaching I can think of only one game where umpiring decisions directly impacted the result.
That’s thousands of games of coaching across almost every level and age group, and only one time where I can honestly say, “we would have won that game”.
And yet every single week I have coaches, when asked how their game played out, start their summary with “The umpiring….”
Even worse, I hear them turn the torch on the umpires when having their post-game chat with their team.
I don’t know what it’s like at your local association or competition, but at ours the umpire shortage is nothing short of chronic.
Every week there are callouts on social media for umpires to fill holes in dozens of games, just to ensure that players can take the court. Games are routinely delayed while umpires are found to make sure all courts can go ahead. There are even Facebook groups dedicated to finding umpires at the last minute.
I’m sure this isn’t a localised issue.
Netball is as popular as ever, but clearly it is getting harder and harder to get people – and particularly young ones – to don the whites and pick up a whistle.
So when one of the first things that comes out of coaches’ mouths when addressing their players is the performance of the umpires, what chance do you think there is of this situation improving?
The only thing you’ve achieved is to let your nine or 10 young players know that if they ever decide to become an official, there are coaches waiting to tear them to shreds every single week, simply for turning up to do their job.
And don’t get me started on some of the things that are shouted from the sidelines and on court by players, coaches and spectators.
So, some food for thought. The next time you have a tough result as as coach, take a moment to reflect on what your team could have done better.
Think about the five shots your goalers missed in the third quarter. Think about the four bad passes your wing attack had in the first half. Think about the six dropped balls.
And then ask yourself: Did the umpires really cost us the game today?
Or better yet – pick up a whistle.