The Roles of the Umpire in Netball

Written by eric benac
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The Roles of the Umpire in Netball
Netball can be played on a basketball court. (basketball image by Yvonne Bogdanski from Fotolia.com)

Netball is a sport that derived from basketball due to a confusion of the rules. It is played similarly, but players cannot move once they have the ball. Each player has a very specific position and must play only in his section of the court. There are two umpires in netball, one for each half of the court. They share the same roles and duties, but each has the last call on his side of the court.

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Pre-Game Roles

The umpire must perform many duties before each game. He starts by checking the court, goalposts, players and ball to make sure all conform to the rules of the game. The court cannot have anything stuck to the surface, such as dried liquids or foods. The ball must be fully inflated and the nets firmly attached to each goal. To protect players from injuries, the umpire then checks each player to make sure he isn't wearing anything sharp on his body, such as jewellery, a watch or any other metallic object. For the same reason, the umpire also ensures players have short, well-filed fingernails. He checks jerseys to make sure each player is wearing the correct one and that there are no tears, which could cause a jersey to rip off the body.

Running the Game

The umpire in netball makes sure each game runs smoothly and properly. He begins the game with a coin toss to decide which team starts, and he stops the game by blowing his whistle. He stops the game when any team calls a timeout. He also stops the game with his own timeouts when a team member appears injured or when something interrupts the game, such as an animal on the court or a fight erupting in the bleachers. The umpire also signals the end of a quarter, which is 15 minutes. The next blow on his whistle restarts the game. The umpire restarts the game at his discretion after he has called a timeout. The umpire signals when a goal has been scored. Each umpire controls the goal and penalty calls on his half, and although one umpire can appeal the other's call, each umpire is the last authority on his half's calls.

Calling Penalties

The umpire must watch carefully for penalties during each game. Players cannot move once they have the ball, nor can they hold the ball longer than a few seconds. Players cannot make contact with each other or leave their specific areas. Each umpire calls penalties on his own side. The other umpire can appeal, but the correct-half umpire's decision is final. After blowing the whistle to stop the game, the umpire gives the correct hand signal for the penalty and indicates which team has earned the penalty. He informs the other umpire and the team coaches of his call, then enforces the correct penalty according to the rule book, such as allowing a free throw or kicking a player out of the game.

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