Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mental Preparation / Game Management / Baby Steps

In what was probably my final high school basketball game of the season, I had a chance to work a decent girls varsity game tonight.   The two teams that were playing tonight were about the same level.  They weren't the favorites to win the league championship but they certainly weren't the worst teams in the league.   In fact, I am officiated both teams individually at points throughout the season so I was familiar with how both teams played.

While the game was pretty competitive for a while, the home team played extremely flat while the visiting team played well and pulled away in the second half for a 20 point win.

However, one of my main goals for this game was to work on my game management skills.  As I blogged last week, a veteran partner had told me I needed to work on this aspect of my officiating.  So all day yesterday and even the hours leading up to the game, I kept reminding myself to officiate AND manage game situations as they occurred.

It was fortunate that I came in mentally ready as the visiting team has some players who are a little hot tempered.  That caused two incidents during the game that I had to address.  Both occurred during dead balls when my partner had called a foul and was reporting it.

One was a relatively minor thing where one of the visiting player was chirping at a home player who had fouled her hard.   I told the visiting player that she shouldn't talk to the other player.  She wasn't thrilled at me but she played on.

The other situation was a little more serious.  One of the visiting players was upset at a home player for something and tried to go after the home player.  She didn't get far as her teammates intercepted her.  I tried to give her a chance to calm down. However, even though her teammates had stopped her from trying to confront the other player, she was still upset and pointing fingers.  I finally decided to issue a technical foul.  The visiting coach asked me what happened and I explained to him what the situation was.

Fortunately, after these incidents occurred (all in the first half), the rest of the game went on just fine.  Both teams seemed content to just play basketball.

All in all, I learned tonight that the key for me is to come into games mentally prepared to  manage situations in addition to officiating.  While this might sound silly to veteran officials who are used to that aspect, one should understand that I started officiating in youth basketball with little to no mentoring.   In addition, when I started officiating youth basketball many years ago, I did many SOLO games.  I went through some tough times as a young college kid trying to officiate with adults screaming in your face.

Perhaps those initial bad experiences caused me to shy away from dealing with tough situations and wanting to "just get the games over with".   So while I may have shed a ton of the bad physical habits when I started in youth basketball, perhaps there are some mental preparation aspects I need to improve on.

All in all, it was a productive evening and I felt I took a few little baby steps in working on my game management skills.  I don't have a ton of games in the next few weeks but it's ok.  I'll take a short break after a busy season.  However, as I get other games in youth and adult leagues, I'll definitely be focusing on managing game situations again.

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