Thursday, 24 April 2008

International Umpire Seminar Part 1

I went to Lugano in 2007, from 14th till the 18th of March together with another IJ from the Netherlands. Because the decision to go was made (beginning of February), after I was sure I could not go to Denmark in September, I didn't have much time to prepare. The IUSC insisted on fulfilling all requirements for applications, before the first of September cut-off date. Going to the Denmark Seminar in September - which I would have preferred - would mean another year waiting to apply. Something I wasn't prepared to do. So short end sweat: Lugano in March!
I managed to cram a lot of study in that final month. And I needed it. Like an IJ-Seminar the pace is very high in the classroom and the test is hard. The umpire skill needed on the water is fast and furious!

In this post and a following post, I will tell you about my experiences at that seminar, the mistakes I made and the people I encountered. I realize that each Seminar is different in location and event, but some of the features I experienced, will be also in any other IU Seminar. Oh, this year so far, only one seminar is planned, from 4 till 8 June in Poland.

To start, IU Seminars are basically the same as IJ Seminars with an event added, for on the water umpiring. Unlike for IJ the IU sub committee wants potential umpires to be assessed by specific people. They appoint them on a yearly basis, a group of 10 very experienced Umpires. Six of them are also Seminar-Instructors. Recently ISAF is actively looking for new people to train as seminar instructors and assessors.

To apply for IU you need at least one positive assessment by one of those 10 umpires. At a seminar there are two and they assess everybody. If you've fail, you can then ask ISAF for another assessment, at an event you are already assigned to and someone from the assessors is also present. If you can get a positive assessment at a seminar you don't need another. One is enough!

Back to Lugano. It's a beautiful place with a brand spanking new club accommodation. Run by friendly people and great enthusiasm for the event. Our hotel was a five minute walk from the club and everything was set to go. Go? Stay put, you mean. Two day's in the classroom going over the manual, calls, rules and what not. Beautiful weather outside and we end up cooped up inside. This is unavoidable I suppose. In the classroom many subjects are reviewed, most of them not in the manual. It is expected that you have already studied that in detail. More about conduct and behavior, how to communicate and teamwork. All presentations and exercises are done in English with paperwork to do individually and in groups.

After these sessions we did the test on the second day around four in the afternoon. Multiple choice questions about rules of part 2 and everything else. If you didn't understand the question or had remarks, you could add those. They were then to be discussed in the debrief. To avoid misunderstandings if you didn't 'get' what the question was about. Making good questions is very difficult, and I had a lot of remarks, but none that influenced my answers.

Time alloted for the test is 1:30 hours. People with English as their mother tongue had 15 minutes shorter than everybody else. I finished with time to spare, but not much. You need to practice how to do test-questions in English, otherwise you will not be able to do them in the time alloted. My fellow IJ ran out of time and couldn't finish, so he didn't pass, while I know he has a better RRS knowledge than me.

With 11 candidates some of us had to wait before we were called for that debrief, and I was one of the last. This meant a night agonizing about my answers, because I was only debriefed the next day in the afternoon. Coming out of the classroom I was full of confidence, after a sleepless night and a day on the water, I was not. Thinking back, I shouldn't have doubted my first impression, but there you go. That is what happens after an exam. I passed with a 90% score with only five wrong of fifty answers. Of those, two were just stupid mistakes, because I didn't read the question or forgot to tick another box. Overall good enough though, a passing score is 80%. My advice - easily given, but hard to follow, I know - is to stop worrying once you've done it. It doesn't change the outcome one iota.

Next time: The water part of the seminar.


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