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Tennis umpire Tom Sweeney preparing for pressure

18 January 2016

One of Australia’s leading tennis umpires Tom Sweeney took part in a 4 day workshop in Canberra, the final component of the Australian Sports Commission’s (ASC) 2015 National Officiating Scholarships (NOS) program.

The NOS program works across high performance sports to increase the number of quality Australian officials and establish self-sustaining systems within sports to develop officials.

Sweeney who started umpiring at age 16 and is now officiating at the Australian Open was aware that he needed to develop skills beyond knowledge of the rules.

“There is always a lot of pressure on the tennis court. The players and officials are all feeling the pressure out there, Sweeney said.

“We have heated moments and arguments with the players.

“Being part of the NOS program has helped me use that pressure to make the best decisions on court.

NOS Manager Ash Synnott said there was a focus on the “soft skills” when developing officials in the program.

“In the psychology area we work on emotional intelligence and behavior profiling.

“We also work on areas such as recovery, running techniques, nutrition, media and social media. This year we have put a lot of focus on match fixing and integrity, Synnott said.

Sweeney who will umpire at the 2016 Rio Olympics believes one of the highlights of the NOS program is the “cross pollination” with other sports.

“Being able to hear how other high performance officials go through their process and make decisions is definitely an advantage.

“I would encourage anyone like me who is a high performance sporting official to sign up for the NOS program.

“Being able to come to the AIS and work with the experts has made me a more complete official and enabled me to compete internationally with some of the best officials around the world.

The 2015 NOS program had 22 participants from 8 different sports including a record 8 female officials.

The 2016 intake will commence in February this year.

For more information on the ASC NOS program go to

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