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UK ITF Umpires Course
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UK ITF Umpires Course

Saturday, 6th July 2019

Master Glenn Horan VII, Mr Kevin McCabe VI and Mr Mike Owen VI hosted us for the UK ITF Umpires course at Edward Peake School in Biggleswade.  Over 124 members travelled from across the UK to meet for this day-long session.

The course delegates gathered in the sports hall, mingling in groups to catch up with colleagues and friends from the various clubs represented in the room.  An air of anticipation built as the group observed the unprecedented number of members keen to gain new knowledge and experience of officiating.

The group took their seats and Master Horan welcomed us and outlined the structure of the day, explaining the emphasis on practical application of skills as well as introducing and explaining tournament conduct and rules.  The morning progressed with Mr McCabe and Master Horan providing explanation of the newer, more important and more complex procedures, such as the roles of the tournament committee, ring jury and centre referee; the conduct of officials; and scoring of sparring.  A short coffee break allowed us to regather energy ahead of the next section.  Mr McCabe introduced the latest specifics around patterns scoring, along with some welcome mnemonic tools to help the officials remember how to apply the rules!  This section prompted lively debate and many questions, which our course instructors answered - in some cases deconstructing the queries in order to provide clarity.

Mr Owen introduced the procedures and scoring for the power breaking and special technique ahead of lunch.  After the break, the group split into two – IV Dan and above joining Mr McCabe for a practical demonstration of patterns and sparring refereeing, and the second group remaining with Master Horan and Mr Owen to further demonstrate officiating for special technique and power.  Mr McCabe’s group were provided with some additional tips to help centre referees run their ring smoothly and professionally, as well as reminders on how to make Kup grades and younger students feel at ease in competition.

The groups congregated together for the remainder of the course; three hours of practical application of procedure and scoring.  Student volunteers from the local UTA clubs joined us on two rings to enable the umpires to practise, using the UK ITF electronic scoring system as well as the more traditional flags and clickers.  The course instructors observed and provided feedback, tips and support to the umpires to help our development.

The course concluded with a summary from Master Horan and presentation of course certificates and updated rule books.  Most of the delegates signed up to attend the next UK ITF nationals in October, before bidding farewell to their colleagues for the return journey home.

Many thanks to Master Horan, Mr McCabe and Mr Owen for collating, presenting and hosting the course.  This represented an encouraging and exciting direction of travel for umpiring in the UK ITF.

Written by: Greg Rose, IV Dan - 10th July 2019

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