On Friday, February 23, former NBA official Bob Delaney spoke with USPA Umpires, LLC and other guests in attendance at the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame in Lake Worth, Florida. Most recently the NBA’s Vice President for Referee’s Development and Performance, Delaney was invited to advise in umpire development with concentrations in leadership, communication and professionalism.

Bob Delaney speaks to the Umpires, LLC at the Museum of Polo
Bob Delaney speaks to the Umpires, LLC at the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame.

“Bob Delaney has met with numerous officials of various sports, and brings years of experience, ideas, and advice to our Umpires LLC program.”  – Steve Lane, Head Umpire Instructor

Delaney’s approach to assisting referees across all sports focuses on his Performance Enhancement Program, created to develop the “360 degree official.” Through training sessions this program works to strengthen professional umpires in many areas including teamwork, leadership and ethics.

Delaney discussed ways to navigate the often passionate “will to win” of players and stressed the importance of effective communication between players and officials. As an umpire the primary responsibility is to run the game smoothly and without bias or emotion. Delaney emphasized that umpires should not operate with an “us vs. them” mentality, but rather strive to work with players to make the sport they all love the best it can be.

Umpires, LLC listens in as Bob Delaney shares his experience
Umpires listen in as Bob Delaney shares his experience.

Another focal point was the importance of consistency and developing in umpires the ability to see the same play over and over and call it correctly. Delaney urged senior umpires to give young referees the opportunity to think through a call before stepping in to avoid mistakes. Using a helpful acronym, Delaney encouraged umpires to bring their FACE (focus, awareness, concentration, experience) to every game and play. As servant leaders, umpires are charged with upholding the integrity of the sport and must consider all information before making a decision. Especially in polo with such a large playing surface, Delaney believes fellow officials and technology should be utilized when available to validate decisions and correct mistakes.

“Bob Delaney shared insight on professionalism in sports, the effectiveness of being level headed, and the importance of calm decisions. His advice is solid for officials and athletes alike.”  – Carlucho Arellano, USPA Executive Director of Services

Delaney also challenged the umpires to be self-aware and cognizant of how they represent themselves on the field both individually and as the cohesive USPA Umpires, LLC. Factors such as physical presentation and presence are critical to creating the desired perception and projecting a professional image on the field.

Umpire Fergus Gould wearing Craig Sager's jacket
Umpire Fergus Gould wearing the jacket of American sports reporter, Craig Sager.

Offering an open forum for questions and discussion, Delaney shared his insights on issues unique to the game of polo. Closing with the importance of maintaining a work/life balance, he advised that in this occupation in particular distractions directly impact performance.