We have all heard the accolades Luke Walker has received over his career to date because they are breath taking. Luke steps onto the ground on Monday at the MCG in the Hawthorn v Geelong match. It will be his 200th AFL game which includes 30 finals, 6 of which are grand finals.
Luke is now ranked 3rd in the all time list of umpires appearing in grand finals. He now sits with current AFL umpire David Dixon who also has 6 grand finals. Only Anthony Black (7 grand finals) and Reginald Treloar (8 grand finals) sit above him. However, Luke holds the number one position for the highest number of finals ever umpired by a goal umpire, now one more than David.
While Luke may make his job look easy he spends many hours honing his craft. We asked Luke what he does to be the best he can be every time he walks onto an AFL ground.
In the summer months Luke plays district cricket with Frankston (this season he played his 200th district match and became a life member of the VCA) and enjoys playing golf. “These activities break up my running routine but they both improve my concentration techniques. A four hour golf game or making a century in district cricket requires hours of concentration. In a footy context your hardest decision might come in the last quarter with two and a half minutes left on the clock. You have to be able to fully concentrate for the whole game,” reflected Luke.
In terms of fitness benchmarks, they are a non negotiable and have to be completed.
“I always approach our skill drills with the same mind set as that which I go into a game with. I replicate my match day practice and perform the drill as best as possible.” Luke is often one of the last to participate in each drill because he is an excellent kick of the ball and always gets that job first. “I get to watch the other guys go through their routines and I get the opportunity to pick the eyes out of what they do and can incorporate that into my routines.”
“In coaching sessions I always ensure that I have watched the coaching examples before the session so I have already formulated my response. I am then able to focus on the instruction or refinement that is required.” Luke watches each game he umpires twice. “I will go home and review my close decisions first and then the day after my game I will sit down and watch my full game. After getting my feedback from the coaches at training I will go back and look at my game again so I fully understand what the requirements are.”
When it comes to match day Luke says it is important not to use any energy worrying about things you can’t control. “You have to stay relaxed, confident in the knowledge that you can cope with whatever is thrown at you on game day. That includes being prepared for whatever the weather conditions will be. You have to be able to adapt to whatever the conditions are.”
Luke you do make it look easy, but I now know that under your relaxed demeanour there is a focus and level of concentration second to none who makes every post a winner.
Congratulations on your 200th.
Pictured: Luke Walker