Why Ipswich umpires are wired up this season
HAVING Ipswich hockey umpires wired up this season is proving a positive step in the game's development at local level.
Ipswich's leading umpire Steve Rogers has been using the earpieces for a number of years in international games, at Australian championships and in the Brisbane competition.
He also bought his own set a number of years ago and tried it in a few Ipswich competition matches with other umpires like Duane Blake.
With wired-up technology improving since then, Rogers is pleased to see Ipswich again embracing the concept.
"It's so much easier, so much better, your communication,'' Rogers said, preparing to officiate at this month's Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia.
Rogers, 37, said it was great to see Ipswich employing the technology, appreciating it takes some time for umpires to adjust on the field.
"It's hardest for the first probably 10 or 15 games with someone talking in your ear,'' he said.
"You hear everything with the open mike.
"Even when the other umpire is talking to the players, the other umpire can still hear so you've kind of got to be mindful not to talk while they're making their big decision.''
Rogers has used the ear pieces in Brisbane games for five years and at major junior and senior tournaments "for quite a few years''.
"It's great Ipswich has picked it up,'' he said.
He said the main advantage of using wired-up technology was making quicker calls about the ball hitting a foot or a penalty corner.
"You don't even have to take your eye off the actual game,'' he said.
Ipswich Hockey Umpires Committee president Robert McLeod has been pleased with the progress since the technology was introduced at the start of the season.
He said 28 umpires were now available to use the radios and earpiece wiring.
"The feedback I've got is very positive,'' said McLeod, who oversees Ipswich's umpiring program.
"Like everything else, we had teething problems. It took us about to the third week before we could actually have everything all sorted out.''
He was delighted to see umpires wired up in every game from C Grade to A Grade during a weekend in late March.
The technology is mandatory in A Grade and Reserve Grade games, with umpires encouraged to use the equipment in as many other games as possible from C Grade up.
"We've got ourselves into a routine now which works and everything is working smoothly from that point of view,'' McLeod said.
McLeod said more than $5000 was invested into helping Ipswich's umpires officiate local games and prepare for higher level tournaments where the technology is being increasingly used.
The retired umpire took over as committee president from Chris Leeder a few years ago.
"I've actually watched a lot of international hockey and how they are miked up for the league and that sort of thing,'' McLeod said.
"Our radios are tops, used at international level.
"It's just that we've got different set-ups as far as the earpieces and all that.''
For health reasons, the umpires are encouraged to use their own earpiece that the wiring can be attached to before the game.
McLeod said a pair of umpires could access eight units. This allows umpires to officiate on Ipswich's two artificial fields at once, with the next group of incoming umpires able to set up in advance to avoid unnecessary delays.
Like Ipswich's international umpire Rogers, administrator McLeod sees widespread benefits of having the technology.
"All we are trying to do is just simply get all the umpires on the same page,'' he said, keen to improve communication and interpretations on the field.
"They can talk to each other and in particular over the course of play, the second umpire knows exactly what the umpire is doing.''
Using the technology will also help Ipswich's younger umpires become more familiar with what's being used at national championships.
PREMIERSHIP-winning Wests coach Brent Nicholls is among those pleased to see the umpires communicating better.
"I like it,'' Nicholls said. "It's a good idea.''
He said having umpires able to give signals quicker was helpful, especially for short corners.
"When they can speak to them (the other umpire), they can do it straight away. It just makes a decision come quicker,'' Nicholls said.
"The standard of umpiring has been excellent in my opinion.''
Nicholls praised up and coming umpires like Jess Fox, Zac Profke and Kyle Jackson for their consistent efforts this season.