This is the first tournament I've ever been at that had a training camp leading up to the event. In the past, they've been used for mostly only Olympic tournaments so this was both a rare event and a real opportunity.
One of the motivations behind having 4 days of preparation prior to the start of matches is the new rules. For some umpires, this is their first tournament internationally, or perhaps even at all depending on their domestic schedule, using the new rules that came into international effect on May 1. It's critical to have everyone on the same page and given that there has been a lot of information going out to every corner of the world, there's bound to be some issues that need correction and refining.
The other is the team-building aspect. Although it doesn't take long to get to know other umpires in a 2-week tournament, it really helps to start off our relationships in a positive, fun way. Many of us arrived in camp on Wednesday and had dinner together that night in the dining hall, the real program didn't start until Thursday. That day we spent doing "meet and greet" exercises, like splitting off into pairs and then when returning to the group, the other person had to introduce and tell stories about their partner.
We covered goal-setting, and the importance of choosing "smart goals" – those that are measurable, specific, achievable, realistic, and timed. Smart short-term goals are the necessary building blocks for meeting long-term goals, and can be used game-by-game to help mentally prepare for each match. I know what mine is for the first match already!
We discussed the importance of this tournament not only in the WorldHockey schedule (the FIH considers this the most important tournament this year!) but also in our overall careers. The players who are here will be on the senior teams for the next 10 years, which is for many of us going to be the rest of our careers on the FIH lists. Getting off to a good start with them by showing rapport and empathy as well as meeting performance expectations will go a long way to setting our standards for the rest. The players should feel, when they see us in the future, that they know what they'll be getting. We also talked about our main vision, which is to provide the players maximum enjoyment of the game of hockey by letting the players play.
Early that afternoon four of us went over to the Harvard pitch and umpired a warm-up friendly between South Africa and Chile.