Former AFL umpire and player Jordan Bannister has revealed the centre bounce is keeping some of the best decision makers out of the AFL.
The centre bounce is a hot issue at the moment, with reports surfacing yesterday that the AFL Umpires’ Association is pushing hard for the centre bounce to be removed from the sport.
In an interview with RSN Breakfast on Wednesday morning, Bannister outlined his opinion on the bounce.
‘”(the bounce) was extremely hard, it’s actually confidence in games, if you miss a few bounces usually it effects your decision making,” he said.
“We have so many good decision makers who don’t get a game each week, or who get cut from the list because they can’t bounce, but we’ve got guys who can bounce like a magician who are getting a game with their poor decision making.”
While bounces around the ground were abolished in 2013, many senior umpires are still said to be concerned about back and shoulder issues as a result of bouncing the ball.
Umpire Andrew Mitchell underwent a shoulder reconstruction during the off-season. Bannister highlighted Mitchell as one of the AFL’s best decision makers, who is overlooked because he struggles to bounce the ball.
“We have a guy last year, Andrew Mitchell, who was probably ranked our best decision maker on our list,” he said.
“He missed a lot of games because he was struggling with his bouncing. He’s a fantastic guy and probably the best decision maker on the list and he’s sitting in the VFL because he can’t bounce the footy.”
“I know we talk about tradition and I love tradition… I don’t think the bounce is as important as people think it is.”
A common rebuttal to Bannister’s argument that the best umpires are missing out, is to suggest those who cannot bounce should practice the skill more often.
However according to Bannister, umpires cannot practice bouncing frequently because of the strain it puts on their backs.
“It’s good when you see it thumped in at the start of the game, I can understand that, but you have guys taking muscle relaxants before a game, Valium, anti-inflammatorys, it really does put a lot of strain on your back.”
“It’s one of those things that you can’t practice too much because it hurts your back. You get told to do 20-30 a day maximum, you can’t go out and do a thousand and really perfect it.”
“Everyone was saying train harder and practice more, but you actually can’t.”
Great decision makers don't umpire AFL if they can't bounce. Best decision makers should be the priority. Not bouncing like a globetrotter 🙄
— Jordan Bannister (@JordanBannister) February 21, 2017
“You’ve actually convinced me that the bounce can go, I was of the opinion that we keep it and you can just deal with it you umpires and just come up with another way of getting it right,” he said.
“But you’ve actually convinced me that it might be time for it to go.”