Sunday, July 13, 2014

It's All About The Mental Attitude

It's been a while since I posted but I'm back with a brief post tonight.  The past few years have been a frustrating one when it came to officiating.

Due to some personal things, I had decided to take a leave of absence for 2012-2013 season.  It was a difficult decision but the right thing for me to do.  When the 2013-2014 season came around, my original set of personal issues were in the rear view mirror.  However, I had a new set of issues that I had to take into consideration.   I considering taking a second leave of absence but ultimately chose to remain "active" but informed the high school assignors that I would have limited availability.

I managed to work a few games during the early part of the season and even had a game or two in 2014.  I wasn't expecting much more than that.   However, my schedule unexpectedly opened up late January.  I informed my assignors that I would be available to fill in for any games on an emergency basis.  It worked out as I ended up working several games when people had to cancel at the last minute.  I even had two fairly competitive varsity games that I would not have expected.

It was due to one of the varsity games that I realized I still had a love for officiating.  My partner and I went through a a tough game (which I may have blogged about).  It was a grueling affair physically and mentally but I survived it.

Somewhere along this time frame, I had met with a guy from our group for lunch (he is the current vice president).  We had talked about officiating and one thing he said stuck with me:  "If you are going to remain officiating, you need to work on improving all the time or you'll be going backwards".  His question to me was whether or not I was going to make the commitment.

I will admit that officiating had become a bit of an afterthought.  It may have been a mix of my personal stuff or just an attitude I picked up from my friends (some of whom thought I officiated too much).   I was just coasting through my youth games and working whatever high school games I got (some competitive, some not, but they weren't always high level).

After my talk with the other official, I thought about my situation.  Ultimately, I decided to commit to being better.   I worked on little things first (stronger presence, stronger whistle, talking to coaches, among others).  I can't judge how well I did but it was on top of mind for me to just get better.  If I got opportunities to work with better officials, I took advantage of it.

Lastly, my association is running a 3-person officiating camp for a couple of weeks.  The first week has already past.  I had a great time learning and absorbing what I could.  I don't know how I am doing but feel alright though there is room for improvement.

The main lesson is that if you change your mental attitude for things, you can change in positive ways.   This doesn't have to be for officiating!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Reviving The Passion

Just like anything in life, things tend to come and go in cycles.  Something new piques our interest and we go "all in".  Then over time, the new thing becomes boring and we move onto other things.

For me basketball officiating was somewhat like that.  There are two differences though.  Unlike many of my basketball PLAYING friends, I actually have an interest in officiating and like being on the court.  I like getting paid like anyone else but the money is a secondary thing if I can work some good games.

The problem with me is that officiating has always seemed to conflict with LIFE.  My high school officiating career has been one of "starts and stops".  My first year was derailed due to my work schedule.  I finally got a chance to work more games in my second and third years culminating in working a league semi-final playoff game (my highest level game thus far).  But since then, work, personal and family matters have all gotten in the way.

At one point, I was ready to step away from high school officiating.  I was juggling work, playing basketball and personal stuff.  However, after thinking about things, I stuck around this past season (2013-2014).  I didn't work too much until late in the season when I suddenly worked a few tough games.

It was after those games that I realized that "I still had the passion".  After so many years, I'm still a bit raw but I think the ability is there.  I just had to focus.  I met up for lunch with another referee in my group.  He works close by and we talked a few times.  We discussed my future and one thing he said to me was:  "If you're going to officiate, you might as well work on improving.  Treading water actually means you will just get worse".

It was after that time that I made a decision.  I was going to give officiating another shot.  But I wasn't going to "just officiate".  I wanted to put some time into getting better.  Interestingly enough, I think my plan is working.  I haven't done anything magical.  I just tried some different things and talked to folks after games to get feedback.  I'm not perfect.  No one is.  But I think I've grown in the past few months and I really haven't worked all that much.

While my time officiating may be tough next year (still have to contend with work a bit), I am going to enjoy as much of it as I can.  I'm solely focused on improving myself and not worried about the quality of the games.  That will take care of itself.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Cutting The "Rope" Short

It's been a while but getting back into blogging a bit.  Thanks to a discussion I was having with someone, I was inspired to write this post.

Late in the high school season, I was available and picked up a couple of high school games for a fellow referee who had to turn them back.  The first game was not easy but fun and went off relatively smoothly.

The second one was probably the most difficult one I had to deal with in years.  Considering how little I worked this season, I was happy to work a few games.  However, I was not expecting the situation I went into.

Essentially, one of the coaches (home team) was a known complainer.  My partner and I knew each other and I thought we had a good handle on the game.  However, the game was a tough one with a lot of physical play and the home team coach was complaining.  Unfortunately, I personally didn't take care of business and issue a technical which could have mitigated some of the craziness that came later.

Because I didn't, the fans (300 to 500 of them) were booing us and we had to deal with a very negative atmosphere for the rest of the game.  There is a lot more I could talk about but my partner and I agreed things could have gone better.

What I learned from the game is that I need to "shorten" up my rope.  I tend to be low key and let people do their thing with the hope they straighten themselves out.   However, since the game, I have noticed my rope has shortened in both officiating and other things I work with.  If I sense things are not going the way I want to, I take quick action.

Overall, the game in question was tough but it was a good learning experience. :)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

NBA Instant Replay

I haven't blogged in a while but a thought occurred to me that I wanted to share.  In high school (and sometimes college), let's say there is a shot by the black team that misses and the white team has is attempting to secure the rebound.  However, a black player fighting for the rebound also makes minor contact with the white player that causes the ball to go out of bounds.

What does an official do in this situation?  A foul call is the easy answer.  However, in marginal foul situations, the official may choose not to call the foul on the black team and just give the ball back to the white team.

Unfortunately, with the NBA's new instant replay situation, that is no longer possible toward the end of the game.  The NBA apologized for a "missed foul call" on Chris Paul toward the end of the Warriors / Clippers game.  The lack of a foul call caused Paul to push the ball out of bounds.  The official had given the ball back to the Clippers but the calls as overturned on the replay.

I'm not sure if the official was trying to do what I suggested above.  Regardless though, using instant replay will prevent officials from making what is fairly smart officiating.  To be fair though, the NBA is a business and I understand why instant replay was needed.

But it does put the NBA officials in the spotlight and magnifies every little error that occurs.  I'm not sure that is a good or bad thing.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Quality Not Quantity

The 2013-2014 high school basketball season has been a bit of a wash for me.  Due to some personal things, I chose not to officiate much this season.  However, I was surprised that I even got to do the few games I worked.  I worked a few JV games and one varsity girls game about 3 weeks ago.  The odd thing is that while the number of games have been low, all of them have been fairly competitive.

Tonight, I got a chance to work yet another fairly competitive game.  This was a fortuitous one.  My partner from a few weeks ago had to give up her games and she decided to email me first before anyone else.  From the game times she told me about, I figured the game were varsity games and confirmed it.

I told the other officials I would take the games if the assignor was ok with it.  After all, I had not worked much this season and I was walking to a very competitive situation.  Fortunately, the assignor was agreeable and I got to work tonight.

I worked with a good partner and the final score was 40-36.  Overall, I think my partner and I were on the same page.  There was not much controversy except for a missed foul where my partner and I crossed signals in our coverage.  I thought my partner was following a play as the trail official so I turned to the key to watch the post.  Alas, my partner was expecting me to watch the play and a girl got hit and fell.    I had zero visibility to what happened.  My partner and I talked afterwards about this.  He saw the play but he was on the other side of court and decided to pass.  The coach from one of the teams was upset but he got over it fairly quick.

Overall, it was a fun night.  The game was intense and the crowd was into it a bit.  But it wasn't a difficult game to officiate. It was great to get into the action again.  I actually have two more games which people gave away to work which I am looking forward to!