Officiating

The Road To Varsity: It's Important To Look At The Signs Along The Way

 

It's been a full month and a half since the high school basketball season started, yet I have yet to officiate a varsity game.

Although I have been officiating for eight years, my move from Virginia to North Carolina last May meant that I was in my first year of membership in a new association.  I fully expected some degree of scrutiny, testing and evaluation after the move.  I paid dues, attended clinics, arrived early, stayed late, volunteered for more than the minimum number of scrimmages, and sought feedback from senior officials. Despite all my efforts, energy and experience, and relatively stellar evaluations and commentary from association insiders during the pre-season, my schedule, at least so far, is chock-full of non-varsity games. 

A veteran high school basketball official learns that her move to new state has meant that the road to officiating varsity games is going to take longer than she thought and take more twists and turns, so she will need to keep a sharp lookout for signs along the way in order to enjoy the trip.

The Road to Varsity: Lessons from Little League

My relocation to North Carolina temporarily disrupted my officiating schedule. With membership into a new association pending,  I needed to find a way to work on my game during the summer and fall without the benefit of regularly scheduled summer basketball. Tennis provided an excellent venue for physical preparation.  Tennis, like basketball requires fitness, quickness, teamwork and stamina. But while tennis helped with the physical game, it was watching Little League baseball, more than anything else, that helped the most with the mental side of basketball officiating.

A high school basketball official prepares for the upcoming season by learning valuable lessons on the mental aspects of sports by watching the fun 10-year-olds have playing Little League baseball.

The Road to Varsity - Mentoring Milestones on the Road Ahead

It's been five weeks since I moved to the Tarheel State, and in that time I have attended two basketball officiating clinics. The first was held at UNC Charlotte and served as an introduction into North Carolina high school basketball. The second was a teaching camp at Liberty University, run by NCAA officials and my fourth summer attending that camp.

A high school basketball official's attendance at two summer officiating camps teaches her some valuable lessons on the Road to Varsity.

Woman Officials: Paying Attention, Not Drawing Attention Is Key to Success

Being a woman official who wants to achieve varsity status requires an understanding of the unique challenges and dynamics that may not exist in traditional work environments.

Being a woman basketball official who aspires to work high school varsity games requires a delicate balancing act: working to improve our skills while not drawing attention to our gender or any aspect that negatively influences the perception of our abilities.

The Road to Varsity Requires Patience, Patience, Patience

"Be patient, Barbara. The games will come." Such was the advice of Ed, the camp director of the first basketball officiating camp I attended in 2006.  Ed took a personal interest in my career and helped me improve by observing my games and encouraging me to focus on the big picture.  He advised that my goal should be on step-by-step improvement and a conviction that I will improve if I put my mind to it. AND, to give it time, and the games will come.

A high school basketball referee, newly promoted to call varsity games, reflects on a season which saw her officiating far fewer varsity games than she had hoped, but reminded her of the need to be as patient in achieving her goal of full varsity status as she is with her whistle.

Flagrant Fouls in Basketball: Difficult Call To Make

A video recently posted on YouTube (see below) featured footage of a high school basketball team committing six fouls in which the videographer accuses the officials of miscalling the fouls.  Like many, he considered any hard foul resulting in the player falling to the court a flagrant foul.  Problem is that such contact is not automatically a flagrant foul; it could be an intentional foul, or it could be just a hard, but ordinary, personal foul. 

A YouTube video accuses high school basketball officials of failing to call flagrant fouls, but begs more questions than it answers, says one official.

Player Injuries and Safety: Game Officials Need to Manage Both

Game officials have well-defined responsibilities for player safety once the contest starts, but rules regarding when to stop play to remove an injured player are less clear.

Sharing and Learning: A Constant for Sports Officials

Becoming a top sports official requires hard work, dedication to skill development, and a never ending desire to improve, whether for a teen starting out, to high school officials, all the way to the pros.

Good Communication Between Basketball Officials and Coaches Is Key

While basketball officials and coaches don't often see eye to eye, they can agree on one thing: that working together to achieve game flow is not only in  their mutual interest, but makes the game more enjoyable for everyone.

Official to Coach Communication Lesson #2: Explain the Call, Not the Rule

Officials sometime make the mistake of explaining a rule to a coach in response to a coach's comment or question on a call. There is inherent risk in using rules interpretation as a communication tool.  Firstly, it takes the official's attention away from the players on the court. Secondly, it gives the coach too much information and opens the door for trouble. A coach friend of mine recently challenged an official asking why he did not call a lane violation on a 6'3 player who was gaining advantage by dwelling in the key. The official responded by explaining the rule at length. The problem was, the coach knew the rule better than the official. The verbose and incorrect explanation by the official hurt the crew's credibility on virtually every call in the game.

Officials sometime make the mistake of explaining a rule to a coach in response to a coach's comment or question on a call.  Officials need to respond to coaches' questions, but do so briefly. Warning to officials: Know the rules!
Warning to coaches: Officials are trained to respond to questions, not comments.

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