Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Relaxing and enjoying game by game......

High school basketball season is in full swing and I put in a full week's worth of officiating last week (Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday).  The majority of the games were high school except for a youth tournament on Sunday.

Overall, despite being very tired, I enjoyed myself.    Basketball officiating can be tough but I'm focused on keeping relaxed and being much more aware of game situations.   I think I did a fairly good job overall in all of my games and one of my partners noted that he saw that I enjoyed officiating.  In fact, I like being on the floor and I am not focused on the type of game (Frosh, JV, Varsity, etc).   I hope this translates to better performance on the floor.

There may be a few technical things that I learned form last week that I post about, but that's for another time!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Boys and Girls Varsity Basketball

I had a chance to work a boys & girls varsity basketball double header this weekend.  It was great to get back onto the court for an official game.  I had worked an alumni girls game on Wednesday so I had already started getting back into the flow.  It helped that the alumni game was competitive so I had to stay focused.  With the double header, it was a sign that the high school season was in full swing.

Overall, the double header went well.  Both games were competitive with solid players and coaching on both sides.   However, the one thing that both my partner and I had to adjust to was the difference between the girls and boys game.

It may not be always true.  However, for this past weekend, my partner and I felt the intensity of the game and the overall speed of the girls were a tad lower than the boys.   It felt a little easier to keep up and get into the proper position to officiate the game.

The boys game was intense affair with a lot of man to man defense and uptempo play on both sides.    My partner and I were in pretty good shape so keeping up with the teams wasn't a big problem.  However,  there were a lot of turnovers which sometimes made my partner and I scramble to get into better positions on the court.

Indeed, that is something I want to work on.  I pride myself on keeping up with the teams while they run up and down the court.  However,  I sometimes focus on running too much instead of focusing on the game situations.  I think if I see the play, I can better anticipate whether I should sprint down the court or pace myself in case the play suddenly heads back the other way.

I feel my judgement on the court is pretty good if I get a good look at the play.  Indeed, positioning on the basketball court is one thing that separates the average official from the above average officials.   This is something I'll have to continue to work on this season and beyond.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Back to Work

It's been a while since I officiated in a "real" basketball game.   I officiate in an adult basketball league I play in but the intensity level is pretty low.  Tonight I officiated a girls varsity alumni game for my former high school.   I got a chance to work with a relatively new official and I worked with her a little bit.

The intensity level of the game wasn't at playoff level but both the varsity team and the alumni team played hard.   While the alumni led most of the way, the varsity girls battled back and ultimately lost by 2 points.

Despite being a little tired the past few days due to some personal things, it was great to get on the court.  I admit to be a little tired of officiating in recent months.  It's a natural thing as I've officiated basketball since 1993 (high school since 2002).   However, I am trying to take a more fresh and confident perspective onto the court this year.  The reason for this is I think it's time to step up my officiating level and not be content to be an average official.

At the same time, I'm not pressuring myself to perform well on the court.  I feel that if I just have confidence in myself and stay focused, I know I can handle any situations that will occur.  I'll be back to work for a double header in a few days and will keep everyone update on my feelings throughout the upcoming high school basketball season.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Difference between low level volleyball and high level volleyball

Last year, I decided to give youth volleyball officiating a shot.  I was unemployed at the time and thought doing something new would be fun.   In fact, it was pretty fun.  There were some bad games but there were also some competitive games that were fun to officiate.

This season, due to various things, I just haven't been able to officiate as much.  However, this past Friday, I officiated the best game I've ever seen in my short career.   It was an 8th Grade Division 1 game between two playoff bound teams.  One team was definitely the better but the other team was very solid.

The difference between the game this Friday and the others I had previous done?  The two teams friday were were very skilled.  They kept rallies alive and were doing the bump, set and spike all night long.  Plus  some of the young ladies were spiking the ball HARD.   Most of the youth volleyball I see is the serve and bump the ball around type which makes for a slow moving game.

The slow moving game was what I was used to and officiating those kind of games is not too difficult because you can anticipate where the ball is going and officiate appropriately.  With the level of play on Friday, I had to make some adjustments.

I had to watch net play more as girls were trying to save balls, spikes and block spikes.  The other change was that I HAD TO RELY on my line judges more.  The balls were flying around fast and there was no way I could see everything.  Fortunately, I had two great line judges to work with.

One disadvantage I had was there was no stand to work from at the gym.  I was ground level and that proved to be difficult see some of the net play.  However, I did the best that I could.   Overall, the game was quite enjoyable and I'm glad for the opportunity.  I've going to brush up more on my volleyball rules as I know I have some knowledge gaps.  Perhaps I'll take up the challenge of officiating high school volleyball (time permitting) in the future.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Double Dipping

This past Thursday, I got a rare chance to double dip.  I officiated an adult league basketball game at around 5:45 PM.  The game finished at around 6:45 PM and I proceeded to commute to play in my own adult league basketball game later that evening at 8:45 PM.

I usually wouldn't do this but the scheduling just happened to work out for me.  The officiating part was pretty laid back though I got a chance to work with a veteran (who also happens to assign the adult league we were working).  I got a chance to talk to the vet and get some insights from him.   In addition, I have to say this particular official is one of the friendliest and easy going guys you're going to ever meet.  He doesn't mind if you have to get out of games, just as long as you tell him why.   As a official, he's one of the best guys around in our group and great to watch as well.

On the flip side, I played in my adult league game.  We trailed the whole game, rallied to tie it at 60-60 but lost in overtime 67-62.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

There are stupid parents and then there are IDIOTS......

I've officiated youth basketball (8th grade and below in my mind) for 17+ years.  I've officiated CYO, AAU and Club basketball circuits.  Throughout all those years, you see a little bit of everything.   For the most part, you get nice and support parents.  Despite the bad raps, most youth coaches are ok too.

On the flip side, there are some parents who seem intent on reliving their lives through their kids OR the parents who think their kid is the superstar and whine about every call to the refs.

Today, I had one of the latter.  I'd seen this particular parent before in the previous years.  He's always yelling at his kid and then yelling at the referees.  Since he was in the stands, my partner and I just ignored him.  However, after the game ended (his son's team lost by about 15), came over to us and whined that his son was fouled the whole game.  I don't believe he was worried that his son's team had actually lost.

In any case, my partner and I just ignored the parent.  However, my partner and I did have to get our payment from the tournament director and the parent was still around.  I guess he couldn't stand us and he said to my face that "we should return our money".

I usually don't do this (and not recommended for newer officials) but I basically told the parent he needed to keep his opinion to himself.  I'm surprised the team that this parent supports doesn't keep a tighter rein on the guy.  After all, the parent is a terrible example for his son.  His son is a decent but not particularly great player.   Imagine if you're in the son's shoes.  Your team lost and your dad is complaining to the referees.  What happens when the kid gets to high school and he gets cut or doesn't play much?  

In any case, the crazy parent didn't overshadow a good day on the court.  There were two solid games and one so-so game.  I did alright though I was slowed by my bad left ankle.  By the last game, after getting warm, I was doing fine though the ankle is a little sore now.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Welcome to Officiating!

I got asked to help out with new referee training for my high school officiating association a couple of weeks ago.  Unfortunately, I couldn't make it last week due to work but stopped by the gym tonight to see if I could help out.

There were a ton of experienced officials participating so I didn't talk to the new "recruits" much.  However, I got a chance to see some on court work by the new folks and it was interesting to look at the new people work. 

With every group of new officials, you'll always get a wide diversity of people.  There always seem to be one or two that look comfortable out there despite their lack of experience.  On the other end, you'll get people who can't quite blow the whistle and do the right mechanics at the same time yet. 

The rest of the people are usually somewhere in between.   Some look decent but need some more experience to smooth out their mechanics.  Others just need to get into better shape.   On the flip side, some are so eager to please that it seems like they are the energizer bunny out there. 

It was actually good for me to show up at the training session.  I may be a veteran in terms of the number of years that I've officiated but I don't have a lot of big game experience.  The reason I started this blog was because I realized I needed to continue to learn and improve.  Maybe I won't improve as drastically as some of these new folks will, but I feel I still have a lot of room to grow.  

If given a chance, I would say one thing to the new officials.  Your learning and training never stop, even after they complete their training over the next few weeks.  There are always new situations that will occur from game to game.   While the lack of experience may frustrate people, mistakes are the only way you will learn and grow.  

Monday, August 9, 2010

The intersection of officiating and life can be a frustrating one......

I've noted in this blog in recent months that I haven't been officiating much.  Part of is getting some mental downtime.  The other thing is that work just simply gets in the way.  A great example is tonight.  I was off for Friday and today while I went on a trip over the weekend.  When I got home tonight to check my work email, I realized I had training scheduled tomorrow afternoon which conflicted with a couple of youth games I had just accepted last Thursday.

Over the years, I think I've developed a reputation of being reliable and dependable.  I don't recall ever having to turn back games at the last moment.  If I wasn't sure I couldn't make games, I wouldn't take them.  If any conflicts came home, I generally notified the assignor a couple of days in advance.

That reputation will help me get past this situation tonight.  However, it reminds me that balancing officiating with other aspects of your life is difficult.  I'm fortunate to not have a family or other obligations besides work at the moment.

Officiating is a fun advocation (hobby if you must).  I always like to work more and get better but the reality of life sometimes gets in the way.

A foul is a foul when the official calls it......

I spent most of my time this weekend camping and white water rafting.   However, the night before I headed up, I was sleeping over a friend's place and brought along some reading material in the form of "Referee" magazine.

There was an interesting article on "intentional fouls" and how the application of the rule these days stray far from the actual written rule these days.

That article got me to think about a few things involving basketball officiating and regular personal fouls.  One of the annoyances I have with officiating is with parents (youth level) and players (adult leagues) that cry about fouls that WEREN'T called.  Not to pick on the parents or adult league players as high school and college coaches will whine too.  However, they are generally better informed about the game than parents and adult league players.

When it comes to officiating basketball, calling fouls is very subjective.  The basic definition of a personal fouls is that a player cannot impede the normal offensive or defensive movements of an opposing player.

However, officials usually apply this rule with the philosophy of advantage / disadvantage.  Did a player gain any advantage by performing some action (holding, hand checking, etc, etc)?  If the answer is YES, then the official will blow the whistle and call the foul.  If the answer is NO, then the play will go on.

That is why my subject line says:  A foul is a foul when the official calls it

I am not saying that officials are perfect.  We WILL miss some fouls that should have been called.   However, everyone needs to give the officials more credit.  If you felt that a foul should have been called but it wasn't, then give the official the benefit of the doubt.  They probably had a good reason for not blowing the whistle.

Rather than arguing about it, you should quietly talk to the official during a time out and see what they say about the situation.  Arguing about a non-call is generally non-productive.  Officials will not go back and suddenly change their non-call.  Plus, this could lead to a technical foul if things go too far.  

Just some things to keep in mind from the perspective of an official.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Taking Time Off Mentally

I love to officiate basketball.  Despite not officiating much recently, I have to admit there's a great rush when you officiate a great basketball game.

On the other hand, there's a reason why I take time off.   I don't know if it's my personality, but I find it a mental strain to work so many games constantly.  I don't think I have thin skin but perhaps I am more emotional than other officials.

There are some fellow officials I know who can easily officiate 4 to 5 days a week for almost the entire year.  There is enough basketball games between youth, AAU, high school and adult leagues/tournaments if want it.

For me, my busiest time is between November and May.  I work high school game constantly during that time as well youth and adult leagues/tournaments.  However, once May ends and the season ends, I go into hibernation a bit.  I still officiate every now and then but don't take as many games.  I really enjoy the downtime away from officiating.  

I compare the downtime to taking a vacation from your regular job.  Many people work years without taking a vacation.  However, as a few of my friends told me,  when you take a vacation from work, you realize how much stress you go through on a day to day basis.   Vacation allows you to get away and forget about work (at least for a short while).

So while I did work a bit the last few days, I have enjoyed my time away from officiating.  In about a month or so, youth volleyball is going to start up and I'll probably be involved.  Then before you know it, high school basketball is coming around the corner.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Been a while.......

I'm still here but after running into some work issues the past few months, I haven't officiated that much. I did work the past couple of weekends and got in some good games but otherwise laying low. As weird it sounds, my passion for officiating has cooled a bit in wake of my work issues.

I'm not sure if it's due to the stress at work or just tired of the noise that accompanies officiating. Generally, I can put it aside pretty easily, but lately I've been tired of it. So all in now, I will officiate every now and then but otherwise, lay low to recharge my batteries and rest up mentally.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Some coaches have no clue........

I got a chance to officiate a youth basketball tournament today (I believe it was considered an AAU tournament). This was some of the items my partner and I observed and/or had to deal with:

In the second game of the day, one team (Red) was just crushing their opponent (Black). Red was using their press defense from the get go and Black was not good enough to handle it. At halftime, the score was something like 31-3. One would think the Red coach would stop pressing and work on something things.

Nope. The Red team kept pressing and the final score was 68-8. A parent from another team that was playing in the next game talked to one of the Red team's assistant coaches about the matter. The parent was told the Red team was prepping for another tournament they were playing in. If Red was indeed prepping, then they have a lot to work on. Their press was sloppy with kids gambling on steals and getting beat. When the kids did get steals, they took quick shots and otherwise did not play fundamental basketball. A better team would have eaten them alive.

In a game between teams I will simply call White and Black, my partner and I had to deal with unruly coaches. Minutes into the game, a White assistant coach was complaining that I missed an out of bounds call. I simply told the assistant coach that I didn't particularly care about what he thought as I saw what I saw. The White assistant coach started complaining even more after that so I told the head coach to calm his assistant down and issued a warning.

On the other hand, the Black team coaches were equally annoying. My partner and I were forced to call several fouls on one of the Black team players. These were legitimate fouls but the head coach was like "You called 4 fouls on one player, what's up with that?" Then he went on to ask me "Did you see what happened yesterday?"

My answer to the Black head coach was "The four fouls were all legitimate. I was not here yesterday so I don't know what happened but it doesn't apply to today's game anyway". Afterward, the assistant coaches for Black started getting into it and I issued a warning to the Black team as well. Three technicals later, I guess the Black team didn't quite listen to us.

All in all, it was an interesting day officiating. It's fine if coaches want to ask questions but these youth coaches sometimes have no idea of what they are saying or doing. I have minimal patience for these coaches.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Getting back into the grove....

I haven't officiated much recently. I've kept to working some weekend kid's game but have avoided other games. The reason is that I've had to focus on my job. When I leave the office, I mentally want to take some time off instead of trying to officiate games.

That being said, I'll be getting back to officiating a little more the next couple of weeks. I'll post more next week.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The passing of Ben Legere - SF CYO loses an original

Several weeks ago, I attended a SF CYO 7th grade boys basketball championship game in which my old grammar school was playing. When I showed up to the gym, I was happy to see that I knew the two officials working the game. One of them was longtime (50+ years) CYO referee and Hall of Famer Ben Legere.

I usually officiate with Ben a few times a season during the boys basketball season. However, due to work, my high school season and other things, I hadn't worked many CYO boys games and thus didn't work with Ben at all this season.

During halftime, I went downstairs to the court to say hi to Ben and the other official. Ben was happy to see me and we chatted a bit. Ben had always been a little quirky and had seem bitter and withdrawn the last few years I had seen him. On this day though, Ben seemed much more relaxed and happy than I remembered him from a couple of years ago.

It was during that day that I found out a local TV station had interviewed Ben and produced a short story on Ben which aired later that evening. The story can be seen here:

Unfortunately, these two particular memories will be my last ones for Ben Legere. After umpiring a baseball game in San Bruno on Wednesday, Ben collapsed while taking the bus home and passed away. He was 77 years old.

My first experience with Ben was back in 1987 when I played my first ever CYO basketball in 8th grade (my school did not have sports teams until that year). He officiated our first ever game in which we lost 35-28. I don't recall if he officiated any of our other games during my 8th grade year.

After I moved on to high school, I returned to coach at my school and saw Ben around but didn't interact with him a lot. It wasn't until 1993 when I began officiating in CYO that I started to interact with him more.

Like I said before, Ben could be quirky as an official but he had good knowledge and was always willing to share his views. You only had to listen to him. I know many officials found Ben frustrating at time to deal with and I could see why.

On the other hand, Ben had dedicated his life to CYO and youth athletics. He was unmarried and lived a solitary life. Even though he could be difficult to deal with at times, I overlooked that because I felt like he sometimes just wanted people to talk to. As my friends will tell you, I am a very patient listener and gave my time when I could.

As I look back, I am thankful that Ben was always giving me advice on my officiating and he was instrumental in helping me mature. Tomorrow night will be my first week of officiating CYO girls basketball as I missed the previous week. I think it will be an emotional night because it will be the first time in my 17 years of officiating that Ben Legere is not with us.

CYO has lost one of it's originals but heaven has gained one heck of a person. Rest in Peace Ben. You've been a part of many people's lives for years and your influence will be felt for many years to come.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

All Officials hope for is.............


Well, maybe we hope for a little more than too. However, a competitive game is probably among the top 3 items that officials want. After all, a competitive game keeps the teams, fans and officials engaged. To be perfectly honest, nothing beats being an official in a competitive game with a lot of screaming fans (unless you're a player in the same game!)

That being said, I had a great night tonight. I worked two 6th grade boys youth basketball league championship games. Both games came down to the the final possession with the first game ending in a 30-29 score and the second game ending at 31-28.

What made the experience even more intense was that the games were held at a very small facility with a court that is lightly smaller than the standard high school court. Also, the seating was very limited so fans were lined up all along the walls.

I love these kind of games because I just tune out everyone (even if the fans are screaming next to me) and focus on the game. I worked with two good parters and had a good time. I wish we could have this kind of experience every game but that's a pipe dream.

My youth league boys season ends after tonight and now I wait for a couple of weeks for the girls season. Not a bad way to end it tonight!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Season Finale (possibly)

Out here where I officiate, there's a Catholic high school league that is considered the most competitive in the area for both the boys and girls. Teams from several cities in the area play in the league. Unfortunately, there are only three boys schools and two girls schools which play in the city I officiate. That means the games are scarce and assignors are pretty picky about who gets to officiate a game in the league.

Fortunately for me, I was assigned my first ever game (girls) in the league back in September of 2009. The game was tonight and it was a great experience.

I can't say I was super nervous in the days leading up to the game. In fact, I was busy officiating youth, high school and adult league games throughout the week. I also studied my officiating manual to remind myself of the three-person mechanics. While I am not a great official and don't work three person games often, I am familiar enough with the mechanics. I just don't practice them that often.

As my work day ended today and game time approached, I made my way to the gym. I arrived about 45 minutes before game time with the JV girls game going on. The other two officials had already arrived and were observing the officials working the JV game.

As the JV game entered the fourth quarter, all three of us went to the change area to prep for our varsity game. I had worked with both of the other officials before and felt comfortable. We pre-gamed a little bit and went out to the court. My personal goal for the varsity game was to stay focused and keep to my primary areas of coverage.

After the pregame festivities (Senior Night, National Anthem, introductions), the game started and I was now in the line of fire. In the first couple of minutes, I held my whistle a lot. I passed on what might have been a foul and also a potential traveling call. In fact, I don't think I called a foul during the entire first quarter.

I finally did get involved in the game in the second quarter. The action seemed to go a lot toward my partners so I didn't have a lot of fouls or other things to call.

The third quarter started and I briefly lost focus. The visiting team had the ball and the home team defender was riding the offensive player. I passed on the initial foul as the offensive player made the way to the basket. The defensive player kept riding the offensive player before I finally whistled the defender for the foul. I should have called the foul earlier but waited a few seconds too late. My partners later said that it was good I did get the foul, but should have gotten it earlier.

I think this situation throw me off a bit. I got a little nervous a couple of plays later. The home team's center rebounded the ball and a player from visiting team smacked into the center. However, the center was unfazed and actually retained control of the ball. However, I was a little too quick on the whistle and called the foul. After the game, my partners understood why I called the foul because they saw the situation develop. However, they reminded me to hold my whistle longer.

Despite a tough way to start the third quarter, I managed to regain my focus. I held my whistle a bit and tried to let the game come to me. For the rest of the game, I felt like I was in control and did my part to keep the game in control.

The final score of the game was 45-44.

Overall, I felt like I did ok. I wasn't perfect and have things to work on. However, it is good to know what I can work some games at this level. I don't know what's going to happen in the future, but I definitely enjoyed tonight's experience.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Traditional Two Person Mechanics vs. Split Key Mechanics

Tonight, I worked a very competitive JV girls basketball game that came down to the final minute. However, a coaching blunder by the visiting coach cost her team a chance to tie the game. The score 42-39 with the home team leading and having possession of the ball. There were 40 seconds left in the game and 25 seconds remained on the shot clock. A timeout had been called and I talked to my partner telling her that the visiting team would likely try to play defense straight up and try to get possession for the last shot.

After the timeout, the visiting team played defense. For about 10 seconds that is. For some unexplainable reason, the visiting team coach directed her team to foul. Unfortunately, for the visiting team, they only had three team fouls at that point and that compounded the coaching mistake. By the time the home team got to the bonus, only 11 seconds remained. The home team made 1 free throw and the visiting team could not score and the final was 43-39.

Besides the game itself, the officiating was solid. I liked working with my partner and we communicated well. The only thing that I needed to work on was getting back to the "traditional" two person mechanic of covering the whole key as a lead official. My partner preferred that to the split-key mechanic, which a lot of officials who do three person prefer.

There was some adjustments to be made though I did still get some fouls as a trail with the action going into the key. All in all, the game was fun and officiating was decent. If only all games were like this!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Game of the Year Recap / Hoops for Haiti

Quick post tonight as it's been a long week at work and I haven't slept much. Last week, I proclaimed that a girls varsity game I was officiating would be a game of the year. Early on, it didn't quite look that way as the home team was down by double digits early. Slowly but surely the home team came back. With the game tied at 32-32, the visiting team had the ball with 31 seconds left. They wound the clock down and shot a jumper that missed badly. The home team got the rebound and threw a strong outlet pass to their streaking point guard. The guard laid the ball in at the buzzer to win 34-32.

Officiating wise, things went well. There were a few situations with the clock we had to handle early on. We eventually had to have an adult take over as the kid proved they were having trouble with running the clock. For the most part, I think my partner and I were on the same page, though he did make a couple of calls (foul / jump ball) at the show clock buzzer that got the coaches up in arms a bit. However, we had to be please that the game was decided by the players at the end.

I am officiating a couple of games this weekend. I will be officiating a JV boys game tomorrow and a JV girls game Saturday.

The JV Girls game will be interesting as it is part of a "Hoops for Haiti" jamboree organized by a girls varsity team here in the area. Besides the JV game I am working, there will be four other varsity games playing. All the gate receipts from the game will be donated to the earthquake relief effort in Haiti. I am volunteering my time in this worthwhile cause as will be other officials.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Game of the Year?

Between work, officiating and generally being busy, blogging about my officiating hasn't been a priority. However, it is worth noting that I may have my game of the year on Friday. As I wrote in earlier blog postings, I didn't receive a ton of high school assignments this year. I've gotten a few quality games during the preseason though the regular season games have been a mixed bag.

On Friday, I got a game between two games with great overall records (12-3 for both teams). However, each team is 1-2 in league play which dampens matters a bit. Despite the slow start for both teams, I think the game will be very competitive and there should be a large crowd as the game is in the evening.

I'm looking forward to game and will post on anything that happens.