UMPIRES RULE: Are you using the whistle in the correct manner?

In researching for articles to write and share regarding the skill of umpiring one popped up that was gold as it resonated with this infrequent umpire who immediately was convicted by its truth.

Chris Todd EHB Level THREE Umpire Coach and FIH Grade One International Umpire (retired) World Cup and Olympic Games Panel, 1975 to 1995 in his article ‘Hockey Umpiring Top Tips and Guidance’ outlines the importance of using the whistle appropriately. His experience and tips is worthy of passing on to all levels of umpires.

He states that FIH are concerned about a number of umpiring issues and “Presentation” is certainly one of them. Moving round the pitch with a whistle in your mouth looks just like the umpire has a dummy in the mouth and it gives completely the wrong impression to players and spectators. At this point this writer absorbs his guilt in doing this ignorant to the consequences.

WHY THIS IS A NO! NO! Chris outlines his reasons hand tips below.

  1. It is a medical fact that babies breathe through their noses, but children and adults breathe through their mouths. Keeping the whistle in the mouth increases the risk of the umpire blowing the whistle accidentally while simply breathing normally.
  2. The umpire could swallow the whistle!
  3. The umpire may blow the whistle too soon and inadvertently spoil a potentially good advantage. Already this season I have seen a good national league umpire do precisely that no less than three times within ten minutes in one match
  4. Umpires are being encouraged more and more as part of their match management skills to talk to players. If the whistle is kept in the mouth, then the umpire cannot talk to the players.
  5. The whistle could drop out of the umpire’s mouth onto the pitch and while the umpire is trying to pick it up and recover the situation, that umpire will of necessity have to take his eyes of the players which is not good practice. It would inevitably be quite embarrassing for the umpire.
  6. There is a view that it looks arrogant. This may or may not be true, but most importantly it certainly does not convey the correct image to the players.

The solution is quite simple and it is to have your whistle on a lanyard or nylon cord with the lanyard or cord attached to your wrist. If the whistle is then held down by the umpire’s side until it is needed, then this looks better and gives the umpire time to bring the whistle up to the mouth and consequently reduces the risk of blowing too early. The other negative points about keeping the whistle in the mouth are therefore eliminated. Tie your spare whistles on lanyards as well and keep them in a pocket.

Source: Hockey Umpiring Top Tips and Guidance by Chris Todd

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