Friday, September 25, 2009

Back to Work - Week 1

After five months of being unemployed, I am now back to the land of the working. It was a bit of a surprise to get called a few weeks ago for a job but I am not complaining. I've spent the first week readjusting back to getting up during working hours.

While there are plenty of positives in going back to the working world, the one negative is that my officiating schedule gets shaved a bit. It's a challenge for any official who is trying to improve but has to deal with the real life problem of earning money.

I also neglected to mention that I officiated my first set of youth volleyball games last weekend. It went by relatively uneventfully but I had some fun.

Despite me being back in the working world, I'll try to keep this blog running. It may not be as frequent but I'll definitely be here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

It's Volleyball Time!

Tomorrow morning, I will be officiating youth volleyball for the first time in years. Though I've been assigned a partner to work with me, I decided to stop by a local gym near my house. I knew there were games going on and I figured it would be good to observe a few matches to get a feel for what an official does.

After an hour and a half of observing, I came to the conclusion that my role tomorrow will likely be less of an official and more of a caretaker. There are several reasons for this:

  1. The majority of the coaches in the league are parents AND most are not very knowledgeable about the sport of volleyball. Of course, there are always exceptions as I know there are good volleyball people in the league. But they are few and far between.
  2. Because the coaches themselves aren't particularly knowledgeable, the kids skills don't get developed particularly well.
I should note that one skill that MOST kids do well is serve the ball. Even the most novice of coaches manage to teach at least a few of their kids is serve the ball. After all, if you can't serve, the chances of winning are nearly non-existent. On the flip side, bumping the ball and returning the serves is one thing that isn't taught well. If a team somehow managed to have kids who can serve and bump the ball, they are ahead of the majority of teams in the league.

The catch for me tomorrow is that I am officiating younger kids (3rd/4th grade). At this age, the young kids are very nervous and stand around like statues. If a team can simply serve the ball, the majority of the time, the kids on the opposing team don't know how to move and get into a position to bump and return the ball. The matches at the younger grades usually turn into a "who can serve the best" type of matches. If you know volleyball, I'm not expecting to see any "bump, set, spike" plays tomorrow morning.

As an official, there's not a lot of game decisions that need to be done. I have many mechanical things I have to focus on but based on what I saw tonight, there will be minimal game decisions that have to be made with the exception of seeing whether the ball is "IN" or "OUT".

For someone who's officiated youth basketball, it's certainly going to be a different experience. Even in youth basketball, I still have the same decisions (fouls/violations) to make as I do in high school and adult basketball. It's just a matter of using the advantage/disadvantage principle. It appears that with the younger kids in volleyball, I may not have to worry about those kind of details.

The final thing about officiating volleyball? It's certainly going to be strange to be "STANDING AROUND" in one location. For basketball officials, standing around in one location is a no-no. For volleyball, it's the norm. It should be fun!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Introduction to Volleyball officiating

Tonight, I took my first step to officiating volleyball by attending a 1 1/2 hour clinic. The league I will be officiating is a girls youth league that has teams from 3rd to 8th grade. Technically, I did officiate in the league before years ago. An official I knew had some emergency and I replaced him in a pinch. Fortunately, the games I did were 3rd and 4th graders so there wasn't a lot to worry about.

As far as the clinic went, it was helpful in that I learned how the youth league runs versus the traditional high school volleyball game play and rules. I won't comment on any of the specific youth league modifications since there is a ton.

Fortunately, while I don't know much about specific volleyball rules, I know the game fairly well in terms of game play, scoring and some other details. As I'm not going to be working high level games, the current knowledge I have should suffice. This should be an interesting change of pace from basketball officiating but a good one. It's good to try something new and see if I like it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Back in Action / Rewarding the Defense

After a few weeks off, I was back on the court officiating basketball today. I was working a youth league that is run out of a athletic club here in the area. The youth league has different divisions for boys and girls from 5th graders to 12th graders.

Today, I was working three games that featured the younger kids. The games themselves were typical of the games I have worked in the past in this age bracket. You have one or two good players on each side and the rest of the kids are in various stages of development. Because many of the kids are inexperienced, they tend to congregate toward the ball. It's not an unusual sight to see six to eight players (offense and defense) all hovering near the basketball. It makes looking for off ball action a little hard when just about everyone on the court is NEAR THE BALL. :)

There was one thing I learned today from one of the games. The second game of the day, one of the teams (Black) was obviously better than the other team (White). The Black team was up by 12 points pretty early in the game and pretty stayed there throughout. Usually when it comes to this level of basketball (with inexperienced kids), I tend to take it easy on the losing team (when they are down big) when it comes to violations. If the players take an extra step or maybe accidentally double dribble, I might let it slip a bit as the kids are learning.

However, the Black coach (in the first half) was asking for me to call the violations. I know the coach so he wasn't really riding me or anything like that. Unfortunately, the action was pretty much non-stop through the first half so I didn't get to talk to coach. After running up and down the court a few times though, I did realize why he was asking me to call the violations. The Black coach was stressing to his team to play DEFENSE and he wanted to see his team rewarded when they forced the White team into violations. Once that realization dawned on me, I changed my focus a little bit and I did reward the Black team for their defensive efforts and didn't hear from the coach anymore.

All in all, learning this lesson was pretty valuable in many aspects. I never thought of the blowout situation from the winning team's perspective. They might be winning the game, but they may want to work on some things and expect to be rewarded as well. Plus, today's game reinforced that officials have to stay focused throughout a game even if it's a blowout.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

All's Quiet Here

I'm still here! I haven't officiated any games in the past week so no interesting situations to discuss. I'm sure there are always other things about officiating I could talk about but I haven't had time to think about it. In any case, I just wanted to get the first post of September up in case anyone was wondering where I was. :)