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Making positive changes in a year of disruption

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Dave Clarke our community sport development and coaching team leader looks at some of the positive changes that have emerged for participants, coaches and officials during a disrupted playing season

Ensuring play could continue under level 2 COVID-19 guidelines prompted many sports to adapt the way they play. Whilst many of these changes may have been a little painful and inconvenient, some changes have had a positive impact on participants, coaches and officials. Stories we've heard recently from the netball courts are a great case in point.

Typically it's instinctive for new netball umpires to chase and retrieve the ball when it goes out of court. COVID restrictions have meant umpires are being encouraged to act like the ball is COVID and to therefore not touch it at any time. Operating under these restrictions, although disruptive, has really helped these umpires hone their mind and embrace new learning.

Netball court

Communication between umpires and scorers has also improved due to the restrictions as they are now having to work in unison, and new learnings are taking place for both parties. Netball Waikato Bay of Plenty umpire development officer Hikitia Gallagher says, “Restrictions have minimised the number of people making contact with the scorecard, and seeing young umpires develop their communication skills with the scorer has been a great learning process for both parties."

The biggest gain reported across multiple codes, though, appears to have been the ability for players, umpires and coaches to do their jobs with complete freedom. Umpires and referees have noticed that under COVID restrictions they were not getting the same level of assistance from the sideline that they were normally accustomed to. This enabled them to focus directly on the match at hand and referee with more confidence without having to look over their shoulders or respond.

Coaches have also commented on their own focus shifting to ensuring young people are having a great time rather than worrying about the result and having to justify a loss to disgruntled parents. As a result kids have been having a great experience with less emphasis on the result and less pressure from the sideline. The experiences are just getting better and better and leaving young people hungry for more.

For parents who were unable to watch their kids under level 2, it might now be a great chance to reflect on how they interact with their children along with the umpires, referees and coaches in the sporting environment. As we move through 2020 and beyond we want to ensure that sport is played with enjoyment factor front of mind, whether we are on or off the field of play.

About the author

Dave Clarke is the community sport development and coaching team leader at Sport Bay of Plenty, and is an experienced high performance coach. Dave is passionate about ensuring community sport offers great experiences for all participants - players, coaches, umpires, administrators and team managers - and together with the Sport Bay of Plenty team offers workshops to support Bay of Plenty community sport sector.

Dave Clarke_Snippet

Dave Clarke

Community Sport Development and Coaching Team Leader

davec@sportbop.co.nz

027 299 5110

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