Table of Contents



Umpiring hockey is an enjoyable way to participate in the game but umpires also:
  • help to raise the standard of the game at all levels by training players to observe the Rules
  • assist in the enjoyment of the game by players, spectators, and others
  • ensure that every game is played in the right spirit.
To achieve these aims, umpires should:
  • obtain and retain complete control of the game
  • never allow a benefit to be gained by a breach of the Rules
  • protect the skills and persons of players
  • use the whistle as sparingly as possible
  • co-operate at all times as colleague umpires to ensure consistency of interpretation, application, and effectiveness of the Rules.


Umpires are advised to follow these principles:
  • develop a thorough knowledge and understanding of the Rules and the Rules Interpretations; they should therefore be studied frequently and discussed with other umpires, players, coaches, and officials
  • keep a calm and impersonal attitude to the game
  • concentrate at all times so that nothing outside the game distracts attention; the mind should be alert throughout the game
  • anticipate the run and flow of the game; by this means a good umpire looks beyond the action of the moment and is aware of potential developments in the game
  • understand that it is not necessary to penalise every offence, for example, when no benefit is gained by the offender; unnecessary interruptions to the flow of the game cause undue delay and irritation
  • apply the advantage Rule carefully in order to give maximum benefit to the player or team which has been offended against
  • allow sufficient time to consider if advantage can be applied but, having decided that it did apply, not to give a second opportunity by reverting to what would have been the original penalty
  • issue, in appropriate circumstances, a caution, warning, or a temporary or permanent suspension separately or in combination, with a penalty
  • identify the relative seriousness of an offence and deal early and firmly with serious offences such as dangerous or rough play
  • not be over-lenient
  • penalise intentional offences firmly by, for example, awarding penalty corners for such action by defenders in their own 25 meters area or penalty strokes if defenders commit intentional offences in their circle to prevent goals from being scored
  • make decisions decisively, clearly and consistently
  • umpire in the spirit of the Rules, in the interest of and showing understanding for the players and the game itself.
Umpires should demonstrate that if players co-operate by playing fairly, the game will only be interrupted when essential for its proper conduct. Rough and dangerous play should be dealt with early and firmly; if a game gets out of control it will be difficult to pull it together again later. Players respect umpires who show they have a good understanding of the game and who enforce the Rules fairly.


Umpires should wear appropriate clothing:
  • to allow free movement
  • which is clean, smart and similar in colour to each other but different from those of both teams
  • with pockets for equipment
  • to protect against bad weather when necessary
  • which can include an eyeshade or peaked cap.
Footwear should:
  • suit field conditions
  • assist mobility.


Umpiring equipment includes:
  • a current book of Rules
  • a loud and distinctive whistle
  • a reserve whistle
  • a stop watch
  • a card and pencils to record the starting times of each half, the number or name and time of warnings to or suspension of any player, and the goals scored
  • a green, a yellow, and a red card.



For general play:
  • umpires should be in a suitable position to see clearly all offences and face the players all the time
  • umpires operate primarily in half of the field with the centre line to their left and the defending goal to their right
  • in general, the most suitable position for umpires is ahead of and on the right wing of the attack
  • for play between the centre-line and 23 meters line on their side of the field, umpires should be near their own side-line
  • when the ball and play are within their 23 meters area or circle, umpires should move inwards in the field and, when necessary, into the circle itself
  • proximity to or being in the circle will help umpires to see that shots at goal are legitimate and to see important breaches by defenders or attackers
  • umpires should be mobile to ensure an appropriate position for each part of the game and to be able instantly to judge the relative positions of players; it is impossible for static umpires always to give correct decisions
  • umpires should not allow their positioning to interfere with the flow of play.
For corners and penalty corners:
  • take up a position which gives a clear view of all potential action but which does not interfere with the play.
For penalty strokes:
  • take up a position behind and to the right of the player taking the stroke.


The whistle is an umpire's primary means of communication with players, a colleague umpire and others involved in the game:
  • the whistle should always be blown decisively and loudly enough for all involved in the game to be able to hear it. This does not mean long loud whistles at all times. Players should be able to "hear" the seriousness of the offence.
  • it should not normally be blown for the taking of free hits, balls over the back-line, hits-in, corners, penalty corners or bullies
  • in rare cases it may be advisable to reverse a decision if it is obvious that a mistake has been made; the whistle must be blown and action taken at once. Players must then be allowed to get into a proper position.


Umpires should note the signals as described in Appendix C to the Rules:
  • remember when signals are required
  • for signals in which the arm is horizontal, the arm should be straight with the open palm of the hand at eye level
  • signals should be held up long enough to ensure that all players and the other umpire are aware of decisions
  • umpires should not look away from the players when a signal or decision is made; this can otherwise result in further offences not being seen or in a loss of concentration, or can indicate a lack of self-confidence
  • umpires should not signal across their bodies
  • umpires should preferably be stationary when giving a signal.


Umpires should prepare thoroughly for each game:
  • they should arrive at the field in good time and prepare themselves for the game
  • before the game commences, umpires must check the field markings, especially the circle-lines and goal-lines, and the goals and their nets, check for any dangerous playing or field equipment, and ensure that necessary remedial action is taken.


These notes are not intended to be comprehensive, but offer general guidance on achieving high standards of umpiring.

Good umpires:

  • practise regularly
  • are mentally alert and decisive at all times
  • develop a good and consistent sense of judgement
  • are not discouraged by an occasional genuine mistake
  • dismiss any mistakes from their mind and concentrate still more
  • recognise that there is no such person as a perfect umpire
  • continuously strive to improve their standards
  • always umpire fairly, with a sense of justice and with integrity.