'EVENING' UP- Are umpires influenced by free- kick count

FastLane

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Have noticed this a bit over the past few years- yet really seemed obvious in Friday (Tigers/Cats) and Saturday (swans/Pies) night games (didnt get to watch other games)

One team gets a bunch of frees- and all of a sudden the free kick count looks lopsided- Cats were well ahead of Tigers early, as were Pies vs Swans- in both free kick count and scoreboard.

Nek minute- Tigers and Swans given a bunch of 'soft' frees and many ignored that could go against them.

I imagine umpires debrief at end of each quarter and would have access to stats- my question is- do they look to even up any lopsided count- regardless of whether they're there or not?

Have seen too many games where this has seemingly happened for it to be coincidence.

Thoughts?
 

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ManInWhite

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#2
You can't even contemplate evening up to avoid a lopsided count.

I know it sounds stupid but is there a chance that at the quarter time break that the coach perhaps ripped into his players about giving away silly free kicks and altering their tackling etc. in the next quarter!!

No access to stats at breaks and even if you did, who cares?

I personally find a common trend in that some teams are just not as skilled as others and are careless with tackling. They give away a few free kicks - the players then start to get annoyed with themselves and become a little less rational in their tackling causing even more free kicks to be given away. By the last quarter they're just charging into packs with zero care factor. End of the game people look at free kick count and say the umpiring was bad because the free 's weren't the same??

Lastly, you better believe that umpires are only thinking of themselves and not wanting to make a lesser team feel all warm and fuzzy by gifting them a few frees. Free kick accuracy is the key metric in assessing our performance. All we want is the highest grand final we can get and a few years ago a mate and I were running off each other in the prelim for a spot in the GF. I had 2 free kick errors and he had 3 in the prelim - I got through. I don't care if a team has 1 more free kick or 100 more. If a free is there I don't want to miss it (or pay an unearned) as I have no intention of slogging through a hot pre-season and a muddy home and away series to throw it away because making up a few frees to even a count seemed to be what the crowd wanted!
 

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#3
Free kick counts are a bit of a joke anyway.

If one team has a number of "free kick... advsntage" calls they are entirely meaningless. They did not help the infringed team at all yet appear on the free kick count for the losing team & their supporters to deflect their performance on to.
 

blckcaviar

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#6
People use statistics to justify a lot of things these days, so here's mine. If Richmond are on top the ladder but significantly last in free kicks (-99), having lost the free kick count in 14 of their last 15 games, you would have to logically assume that it's better not to get free kicks, right?

Or at least, that free kicks are not a significant reason why teams win or lose.
 

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#7
Most of the games problems could be resolved if umpires just paid the frees that are there, instead of waiting and hoping the ball will pop out. We dont need new rules to further ruin the game we need the old rules umpired correctly.
 

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You can't even contemplate evening up to avoid a lopsided count.

I know it sounds stupid but is there a chance that at the quarter time break that the coach perhaps ripped into his players about giving away silly free kicks and altering their tackling etc. in the next quarter!!

No access to stats at breaks and even if you did, who cares?

I personally find a common trend in that some teams are just not as skilled as others and are careless with tackling. They give away a few free kicks - the players then start to get annoyed with themselves and become a little less rational in their tackling causing even more free kicks to be given away. By the last quarter they're just charging into packs with zero care factor. End of the game people look at free kick count and say the umpiring was bad because the free 's weren't the same??

Lastly, you better believe that umpires are only thinking of themselves and not wanting to make a lesser team feel all warm and fuzzy by gifting them a few frees. Free kick accuracy is the key metric in assessing our performance. All we want is the highest grand final we can get and a few years ago a mate and I were running off each other in the prelim for a spot in the GF. I had 2 free kick errors and he had 3 in the prelim - I got through. I don't care if a team has 1 more free kick or 100 more. If a free is there I don't want to miss it (or pay an unearned) as I have no intention of slogging through a hot pre-season and a muddy home and away series to throw it away because making up a few frees to even a count seemed to be what the crowd wanted!
Interesting to hear form someone in the field.
Out of interest what level do you umpire?

Curious if AFL league umpires have access to stats- would assume so- in this day and age- reviewing and debriefing performance at half time to ensure job being done correctly- possible adjustments??
 
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#9
I actually find it a stupid stat anyway. Doesn't actually tell you much. Who had possession? Which half of the ground? Direct shot at goal given or prevented? All have a bigger influence then purely the number awarded.
 

ManInWhite

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#10
Interesting to hear form someone in the field.
Out of interest what level do you umpire?

Curious if AFL league umpires have access to stats- would assume so- in this day and age- reviewing and debriefing performance at half time to ensure job being done correctly- possible adjustments??
Currently a country league very close to Melbourne. Many years across 6 leagues including a few years at AFL but not senior level.

The AFL umps don't have what you'd call formal access to stats at breaks. Closest would be glimpsing up at the big screen and seeing whatever was being displayed at the time. I noticed a recent "Roaming with Brian" where he was chatting to the umps after the game and they showed the Brownlow paperwork that was yet to be completed. They specifically stated they are not allowed access to stats - I assume so that number of possessions, etc. doesn't sway their thoughts when deciding votes.

In regards to possible adjustments during a game, players really prefer consistency in a game. Umpires might be a bit more red hot on HTB than the guys the previous week but as long as they do it the same way all the way through the game, the players have a reference point.
 

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Currently a country league very close to Melbourne. Many years across 6 leagues including a few years at AFL but not senior level.

The AFL umps don't have what you'd call formal access to stats at breaks. Closest would be glimpsing up at the big screen and seeing whatever was being displayed at the time. I noticed a recent "Roaming with Brian" where he was chatting to the umps after the game and they showed the Brownlow paperwork that was yet to be completed. They specifically stated they are not allowed access to stats - I assume so that number of possessions, etc. doesn't sway their thoughts when deciding votes.

In regards to possible adjustments during a game, players really prefer consistency in a game. Umpires might be a bit more red hot on HTB than the guys the previous week but as long as they do it the same way all the way through the game, the players have a reference point.
i think we all just want consistency- pay it the same, all day.to both teams and (almost) everyone happy.

difficult to do when multiple interpretations from multiple umpires.

Thanks again for insight- greatly appreciated
 

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#12
As a former umpire, I will definitely admit that it can play on your mind that the last 6 free kicks you've awarded were all to the same team. And the team you paid them against will definitely be reminding you of it! But I can honestly say I never once paid a "sweetener"or a "leveller", nor did anyone I ever umpired with. Whether the lopsided count playing on your mind as described above leads to one being paid subconsciously? Who knows...
 

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#13
As a former umpire, I will definitely admit that it can play on your mind that the last 6 free kicks you've awarded were all to the same team. And the team you paid them against will definitely be reminding you of it! But I can honestly say I never once paid a "sweetener"or a "leveller", nor did anyone I ever umpired with. Whether the lopsided count playing on your mind as described above leads to one being paid subconsciously? Who knows...
How about when an umpires misses an obvious one & it appears that he reslises the error a few seconds later and gives a fairly soft one to the team that should have got the 1st one. Doesn't happen often but it is occasionally noticeable.
 
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#14
How about when an umpires misses an obvious one & it appears that he reslises the error a few seconds later and gives a fairly soft one to the team that should have got the 1st one. Doesn't happen often but it is occasionally noticeable.
That feeling like you "missed"a free kick can definitely happen, for example where a tackle was possibly high or in the back but in your moment of indecision the ball comes loose and the game flows on. As for the soft one afterwards, like I mentioned, I don't think its ever deliberate but you could make a case that it does sometimes occur subconsciously.
 

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#16
I disagree. If I realise that I've missed a free kick, I would sooner have just 1 free kick error recorded against me. I don't want to have a missed free and an unwarranted free error. That sort of stuff burns you when the umpire coaches are putting together finals panels.
 

BartBart

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#17
I disagree. If I realise that I've missed a free kick, I would sooner have just 1 free kick error recorded against me. I don't want to have a missed free and an unwarranted free error. That sort of stuff burns you when the umpire coaches are putting together finals panels.
Although the evener up is usually isn't an incorrect decision but one that may or may have not been paid i.e. a borderline one. And it is probably paid subconsciously to make the error sort of go away. But that may just be my perception of it as a non-umpire myself.
 
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#18
I disagree. If I realise that I've missed a free kick, I would sooner have just 1 free kick error recorded against me. I don't want to have a missed free and an unwarranted free error. That sort of stuff burns you when the umpire coaches are putting together finals panels.
I don't think any decent umpire does (or should) consciously pay an even-up free kick, I just think it may play on an umpire's mind and affect them on the next 50-50, whether they realise it or not.

Slightly off topic but as for errors being recorded by umpiring coaches, that is the worst way to assess an umpire's performance. You're taught from day one as an umpire that positioning is key, so what right does a coach who is 100m away sat in the stands have to say that a decision made by the controlling umpire (who was in position) is an error. Just my 2c...
 

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#19
Umpire performance feedback is an interesting topic. I've umpired for about 35 years and the majority of that time the coaching has nearly always been designed around negativity. e.g. it assumes that you should be doing things correct and you only get told about what you did wrong. For many years a scoring based system was used and umpires were ranked based on how many points they lost in a game.

If you missed a free kick or paid an unwarranted free kick you would lose 2 points (a reason I can't understand why people sometimes think an even upper gets thrown in - you only lose another 2 points in the process).

If you ran a bit narrow under the flight of the ball or had a minor positioning error you might lose 1 point.

A major error like a missed report would lose you 3 points.

At the end of the game whoever lost fewer points was judged a better umpire. A very negative mindset though as you can't actually gain points for doing something right.

These days it's less mathematical and more descriptive at least and gives kudos for the many things that umpires do get right. I've coached junior umpires for a number of years and in my written observation reports I would always list 3 things they did well and 3 things to work on for the next week.
 
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#21
Umpire performance feedback is an interesting topic. I've umpired for about 35 years and the majority of that time the coaching has nearly always been designed around negativity. e.g. it assumes that you should be doing things correct and you only get told about what you did wrong. For many years a scoring based system was used and umpires were ranked based on how many points they lost in a game.

If you missed a free kick or paid an unwarranted free kick you would lose 2 points (a reason I can't understand why people sometimes think an even upper gets thrown in - you only lose another 2 points in the process).

If you ran a bit narrow under the flight of the ball or had a minor positioning error you might lose 1 point.

A major error like a missed report would lose you 3 points.

At the end of the game whoever lost fewer points was judged a better umpire. A very negative mindset though as you can't actually gain points for doing something right.

These days it's less mathematical and more descriptive at least and gives kudos for the many things that umpires do get right. I've coached junior umpires for a number of years and in my written observation reports I would always list 3 things they did well and 3 things to work on for the next week.
Interesting perspective, thanks for sharing. The modern system definitely sounds more effective. There is a thread blowing up on Big Footy right now with 5 pages and counting worth of arguments about the Rioli/Maynard contest, which just shows how subjective and debatable free kicks can be in our game, so I don't think trying to label them all as correct or incorrect in the humble opinion of one coach was ever a good system.
 

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#22
The whole football community over the years in some way has created the problem of rule interpretation being so subjective. Compare cricket - can you imagine dozens of people debating for days whether one bowl should have been called a wide or not? In football people seem to prefer the umpires putting the whistles away and only paying the major free kicks but once again how would that go in cricket? Only signal a wide if it was really wide and not just a little bit? Or motor sport - we won't give the driver a penalty because he wasn't speeding in the pit lane by too much?
 
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#23
The whole football community over the years in some way has created the problem of rule interpretation being so subjective. Compare cricket - can you imagine dozens of people debating for days whether one bowl should have been called a wide or not? In football people seem to prefer the umpires putting the whistles away and only paying the major free kicks but once again how would that go in cricket? Only signal a wide if it was really wide and not just a little bit? Or motor sport - we won't give the driver a penalty because he wasn't speeding in the pit lane by too much?
Definitely. A lot of it comes down the laws and how vaguely they are written. For example prior opportunity, ask 10 players how many seconds or steps is prior opportunity, you'll get 10 different answers. Ask 10 cricketers what a leg side wide is, they will all point at the white line on the crease.
 
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