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.


  1. Down in the Deep South we are fortunate to have a small group of senior umpires that spend time training, mentoring and standing on the sideline supporting and helping to control/train the parents and coaches. This ensures that parents get information on rules and junior umpires are well supported and trained so their confidence and talent can grow and expand.

    1. That’s so great, wish we had this in AKL. My son is a young football ref and he cops a lot of abuse too. They are short of people as well and his mentor doesn’t make it to most games. He was super keen to start with but doubt he’ll last in this environment.

  2. This article needs to be read out to every coach and player of our land before each game until they can recite it word for word.

  3. This article needs to be handed to the spectators who hurl abuse but not in their own lifetime will pick up a whistle themselves

  4. One of the great things in netball is that you can manifest in whatever things you do in netball. But when it comes to game time we tend to complain alot about umpires calls. Try and look at your games structure,players making lot of mistakes. We learnt from our mistakes and improve on it when our next games comes………

    1. As a player, coach and umpire, there are certain message you give your players about the umpire
      1. Play to your umpires, Acknowledge and respect their calls, respect gives respect
      2..if you are a defender understand you will be called out first
      3.they are not gods but they have the whistle and are only human
      4. We can not play the game without them

      1. Play to the rules of the game please! The culture in Nz around play to the umpire, or play to the whistle is wrong. Play to the rules!

  5. I am part of a club who place importance on training, developing and mentoring our young umpires. The frustrating thing for me is watching other clubs young umpires who are not confident or competent to umpire that age or level but worse still no one mentoring and supporting them. They are not teaching their young umpires to the same standard as we strive too. And unfortunately the association don’t follow this up. ….Just a different view of this subject.

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