Julie Corletto and Shannon Francois

Jan Aikhionbare has been an umpire for over 25 years and is a mentor, evaluator, tutor and examiner for Netball Wales for the past 15 years. She answers your umpiring questions.


Mark Keelty: Why do you yell out the word ‘advantage’ so much during a game when you never apply any advantage.

To play advantage in the true sense is to have looked ahead to see if the play ahead is on, and to blow or call for an obstruction, would place the non-offending team at a disadvantage. This does not always work, as the players are so skillful they will make an intersection. See rule 3.1.6 (viii).

Catherine Turner: I don’t understand blocking. I’ve seen umpires call players for blocking the path of another player. But, as a defender you often want to stop an opponent from moving into a space (eg, the goal circle). So, how do you judge this?

See rule 17.2 (i): A player may not move into the path of an opponent who is committed to a particular landing space. You have to judge everyone on what you see, be in the correct place to make the right call. If unfair to one player, you must penalise.

Jaye Gardner: Can you define the intimidation call? I’ve seen a few calls recently where I don’t understand that they were intimidation? Such as when either a gk or gd is out of play and the other defender is defending the shooter and jumping back to other player to block the pass? Hope this makes sense

Think again – is this unfair? It might be hands in-front of eyes, it may be shouting in someone’s face, it might be blowing in their face… I can not stress enough that you have to be in the correct place to see what is happening; there is no guess work in umpiring. Refer to Rule 16.5 Intimidation: when a player with or without the ball intimidates an opponent the offender shall be penalised.

Emily Farrer: Should umpires do more to discipline players, in particular things like delaying play, jostling for position and generally attempting to gain some kind of advantage (who knows what) while they are meant to be standing out? I feel like this is becoming a problem in ANZ.

All umpires want to keep all 14 players on the court, but if you need to discipline you should. Delaying is an easy one to do. You have to remember, these games you are lucky enough to see week in week out would not be so appealing to newbies to the sport if there were stoppages all the time and umpires policing the game. Yes, it is a fine line, be fair to both teams equally at all times.

Kay L Collins: why is it contact and obstruction rules are not enforced?

I am sure they are, but the speed at which the game is played now, you have to ask yourself, are the players skillful enough to carry on? They will be trained to get a pass away/shoot with someone marking less than 3 feet, and also, trained to withstand a strong challenge. Netball is a non-tackling sport only.Contact will occur I’m sure in a small space.

Ellie Peacock: I got pulled up for “holding”. Now that I’m beginning to train for an umpire, I’ve never understood “holding”. Please explain.

Holding will be arms outstretched for longer that a second to indicate direction, in a way that it will interfere with a player. Also, holding onto another’s dress to prevent them moving off.

ANZ Championship - Steel v Pulse, 14 April 2014

Sophanna Parsons: Defending the shot: Is it an infringement to guard a shooter’s face, rather than the ball so they can’t see the hoop? I’ve had a few sneaky defenders do this to me and they don’t get pulled up for it! Shooting blind sometimes!

This would be intimidation. Umpires have to watch the defender’s intent and question, “Is she defending the ball?”, or like you say covering the player with the ball eyes. Again, be in the correct place to make the right call.

Amberly Morison: Do the umpires need to alter their interpretation when umpiring the two different styles of play? Commentators keep saying that the umpiring is different between Aus and NZ.

Umpire what you see, be as fair to both teams, read the play and watch for patterns of play, so again i will say, be in the right place to make the correct call.

Kayla Rapisarda: Why if the shooter is shooting a plenty goal after the siren and if they step in and the goal is counted. I’ve seen some umpires disallow the goal.

On a penalty, you are allowed to use the footwork rule. Make sure the penalty is set in the correct place, so clearly indicate this to umpires.

Sue-Ann Griffiths: If the rule of a centre not being fully in the centre circle is going to be deleted will that mean that she only needs one foot in the circle and the other can be outside. Will this then mean that a WA can have one foot behind the transverse line to start the game and the other over it?

As the rule stands, you have to be wholly within the circle at the start of play. This can be one foot grounded and the other still up in the air. I’m not sure this rule will be deleted as you say, as netball will become too much like basketball, and this we all do not want as netball is more skillful.

Jan Blair: Why do umpires for example call advantage for obstruction and then if the ball thrower throws ball out of court or to an opposition player why isn’t the advantage brought back as clearly there was no advantage.

This is netball and not rugby. We as umpires have to make a split second judgement by looking off the ball to see if by playing advantage it does not place the non-offending team at a disadvantage. If someone does not catch the ball, that is too bad. We can only umpire what we see. On lower grade games, you would maybe play less advantage as the skill level of the players is not so high.

Broobs: In the Tactix game last week, the umpire called Anna Thompson for off side when she went in the circle, forgetting she was a GA. Is there any scope for an umpire to change their minds on a call like that? Or do they have to stick with what they called?

Umpires error…! This is something you do not see or hear so often, but it must be fair to both teams, so if you do make a wrong call like what you state, yes use this…

Summerhill3: When two opposing players are running side by side, one often curves outwards (slightly in the others path) to create space. Most commonly seen in the circle in an arc around the goal post. Recently we have seen it penalised as a contact against the defender by some umpires, while others will allow play continue with fault on both sides. To me it could also be seen as a “causing” penalty against the attacker, as they are actually running into the defenders line. How do you determine where the penalty occurs in these situations.

Make your judgement on what you see and be in the correct place to make the right call. Sometimes one player may be interfering with her opponent, but you have to see it. If both are side by side and running straight but bumping each other, but one not impeded, this is fine. You have to be in the right place to see if it is unfair to one.

Why do Australian umpires always have their shirts tucked in and NZ umpires always have them untucked?

As I’m from UK, I’m not sure if this is an association call on dress code, or preference by umpires. Nothing in the rules book about this!

AllieC: I coach U17′s and they are all pretty quiet and lovely LOL. A few weeks ago we had an issue with one umpire’s calls and they wanted to approach the umpire. We didn’t really have a captain at that stage and the weekly one was too shy to do it. As an umpire, if a captain approaches you to question a call etc, how would you like it worded? PS: I have now appointed 2 girls to be the co-captains (the more confident of them) and they would like to know so they can be confident in approaching if need be.

What I train my umpires and players is this: Ask, “Can you clarify this rule for me please?”. This is allowed and is in the rule book that a captain may do this. This is why us umpires have to read our rules books regularly to make sure we can clarify and answer a rule clarification during any game we umpire.

Romelda Aiken

Richard Tolland: I have a Question… Could you please clarify the stepping rule. I believe some of these very tall shooters are ‘stepping’. Whether they are uncoordinated or what, their feet are everywhere. Every third or fourth goal should be disallowed. Could you please check some of the recent videos… Thank you..

Rachael McPherson: Can you please clarify why shooters are allowed to make a full foot turn, and by doing so obtain many more cm’s closer to the post and it’s not a footwork infringement when a ‘drag’ is far less (and not intentional in most cases) and players are penalised. It’s impossible for defence to set their 3-feet, they are penalised and it’s the shooter who is shortening the distance. Thanks

Jan Blair: Thank you Rachael McPherson that was my question so many shooters gain almost a foot length by swinging their grounded foot around. I think it’s a drag n should be penalised

You can pivot on either the ball of your foot or the heel of your foot, but you can not do both in such a way that you gain any ground. The games in ANZ are very fast and furious and the umpires eyes will be checking for more serious infringements, like contact that interferes with play.

To brush up on your umpiring, the Official Rules of Netball are available to online for free here: http://netball.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/1_269837.pdf

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