Some material from Referee.com, June 1, 2022 article – 9 Points To Grade Your Officiating Crew
As defined in the 2023 CCA Manual, crewness is: the essential and fundamental ability of the umpire team to work together to serve the game of softball.
• Crewness requires planning, communication, game management tools, the ability to learn from others, leadership, and hard work.
• The umpire crew needs to be on the same page. All umpires should have written and shared the goals that they are currently working on with the crew.
Each umpire must put their personal agenda and opinions aside as the crew works together.
• Professionalism takes precedence and is the basis for building respect, integrity and taking responsibility for shortcomings.
• Communication before, during and after the game is essential for building a high performing crew.
• The crew must understand and use proper, proven and appropriate management tools in providing a climate of good game flow and sportsmanship.
• Each member of the crew should participate in the postgame – celebrate the things the crew did well; revisit goals and lapses of focus should be shared.
• An honest accounting of personal and crew performance should be noted.
• Questions and suggestions should be offered rather than accusing statements.
Together we can learn from each other, solve problems and be better tomorrow. The crew is not about you or me, but WE, trying to achieve the big-picture goal of getting the call right for the student athletes. As the athletes must work as a team to win, the officiating crew must exhibit teamwork in order to execute at the highest level. But being assigned to a crew does not ensure teamwork. So how well does your crew perform?
Here is a method to see how your crew is doing. Use these nine points to grade your team:
• Is everyone on the crew there for the same reason? Common mission and values drive team success. The pressure to “move up” or earn postseason assignments is a powerful one. The desire to make more money doing other sports can be a draw as well. Is there enough focus by individual crew members on the game at hand?
• Does the crew take personal responsibility for game preparation? Is the crew ready? It is the individual’s responsibility to maintain a solid understanding of the rules, mechanics, and game management. Does the crew arrive at the pregame prepared? Do the members hold one another accountable?
• What is the nature of the pregame meeting? Is it business or bickering? Overly convivial? Are the pregame meetings coordinated and geared to discussing points events? Does the atmosphere encourage questions and learning? Or are they sessions mired in complaints about game fees, the quality of the competing teams or the assignments of other officials?
• How does the crew view the crew chief? The head of the crew wields significant influence not only on the field but off. During a game does he or she create an environment of, “Let’s just get the call right,” or one of, “Don’t embarrass me”? Are crewmembers more concerned with the lead official’s influence on subsequent playoff assignments?
• How is conflict handled? Officials are notoriously confident — they have to be in order to make split-second decisions. In pressure-filled situations that confidence can manifest itself in the form of closed minds and an unwillingness to discuss other viewpoints. Is your crew able to constructively and quickly handle conflict among crewmembers?
• Does the crew focus only on the negative? Clearly missed calls draw the most attention and they need to be addressed at the appropriate time. However, positive feedback validates good performance and builds a constructive and upbeat atmosphere.
• Are crew members empowered? Empowerment is a word often overused and seldom understood. Empowered team members enjoy an environment of trust that fuels assured decision-making. They are vested in the success of the crew.
• Are the roles of each crew member clear? That is usually a case of mechanics, but it is one worth revisiting on a regular basis. Does the crew communicate? Every sport requires communication among crew members. Adopt sound in-game mechanics that allow effective communication among crew members before and after the play.
• Does the crew follow through? Teamwork among umpiring crews need not end when the final out is recorded. Effective crews use postgame discussions to reinforce positive aspects of their performance and identify areas that need attention.
The officiating crew may not be the team the crowd pays to see, but they need to function as a team is just as important. Use the above questions as a guideline to see where your crew stands. How is your crew doing?