Blog posts tagged with 'ref-ology'

Stay Engaged

Stay engaged

Anyone who watched the recent wrestling matches during the Olympics in Rio may have heard in the news a phrase we commonly use in basketball officiating: "stay engaged." 

It wasn't mentioned surrounding a basketball game, so what prompted the media coverage?

The Mongolian wrestler, who was winning near the end of the match, didn't "stay engaged" with his opponent, he celebrated his performance too early alongside his coaches and he ended up losing the Bronze because "He finished the match before the match finished.” He lost on penalties.

So many parallels could be drawn from this extreme example of finishing what you start or as the saying goes "it ain't over til the..." - you can finish the phrase.

However, staying engaged applies to basketball officiating at so many levels...where should I begin?

The obvious example would be to "stay engaged" on plays to the basket (and, that's been taught for quite a while now across all levels of basketball).

Or, one could interpret the phrase to "stay the course" as it’s a long journey to become a successful referee and to accomplish your goals - and, trust me, once you accomplish those goals there is no medal at the finish line (and hopefully, no one strips down in protest like the Mongolian wrestler’s coaches did either!) YOU have to have internal motivation, perseverance and genuinely experience joy around being part of this profession OR the finish line will fade as you try to cross it.

You could elect to interpret the phrase in its collaborative sense. Engaging with others to figure out methods to improve personally or helping others improve their game in a very transparent way.  And this type of engagement, with an attitude that "we are all in this together," will make anyone working in this profession, and ultimately the GAME, better. This takes a sense of vulnerability and a willingness to give up control…and monumental changes often occur when power and control are not the motivators. Genuine leadership abounds…not just from the leader, but the entire group becomes empowered and accountable!

This type of mentality is a MUST in today's environment. And, it's obvious when people are going through the motions to say they are in it together versus being in it together....more on that at the ref-ology Fall workshop....and trust me, we will not strip down like the wrestler's coaches did – but we will learn to how to experience compassion for them!!

Whereas all of the possible ways to interpret this phrase will bring about results, for my purpose, here today, I choose to apply a different meaning to "stay engaged." What if we applied the "Staying Engaged" concept to our personal, and our crew's, presence throughout the game.  What if we employed full attention to WHAT we do WHEN we are doing it.  It's another way of saying ref-Present!  One may declare, "I am VERY present when I referee, how dare you say that."  Or, "My calls are correct so I must be present when I am refereeing – I have high accuracy, it’s all right there in the numbers."

In reality, we are very good at being physically present and excellent at getting calls correct for various reasons, but How mentally present are WE when refereeing throughout an entire game?

And, what about when YOU are not in season, how do you PRACTICE staying engaged and refereeing present when you may not have been on the court for several weeks or even months? 

How honest can we be with ourselves, our peers and our leaders and how much feedback is too much or too little for us - do you know the answer for yourself and can you communicate it openly?

Please share the practices you have employed in your off-season to stay engaged...and if you didn't get an off-season, please share the opposite...what you have done to stay engaged during your games but disengage at times throughout the day or week. It’s equally as important for referees, to establish practices that allow them to disengage for periods of time – so you can stay present during the games you referee.

Remember, outside officials stay engaged on all plays to the basket…and EVERYONE…Stay Engaged and Present throughout the entire game.

If you want to get warmed up, or back engaged for the season, please join ref-ology at Delta Community College for a workshop (scholarships available).

This workshop is held conjunction with the Delta Women's JC Team Camp on September 23-25th. Please, click on the workshop link and get registered today!

Twister anyone?

This time of year generates lots of energy as we gear up for the season which is soon to arrive.  For me it looks like this: New rule books, contracts, physicals, scrimmages, ref-ology Fall workshop (already successfully completed), and the regional clinics underway.  The NCAA test is already out and great rules discussions, with the referees I collaborate with the most, are getting my mind back into basketball.

It’s an anxious time in anticipation of the best part of the year – the start of basketball season!

As I look forward, I work to make sure I have “crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s,” and I go in search of the game I felt most proud of last season.  Why?

Several years ago, a fellow, very accomplished, referee gave me great advice.  “Shelley, find the best game you worked towards the end of last season.  Watch it, and begin preparing from when you were performing at your best!”  That advice has served me well over the years! Thanks Tommy!

In our pursuit to be the best referee we can be, many of us have become somewhat addicted to the near instant feedback we get following our games via observations or film review.  However, with the beginning of the season in mind, I want to throw this concept out there.   In my opinion, the film room is where we “connect the dots.”  It’s the place to learn “play-calling,” positioning, angles, mechanics, offenses and defenses, trouble spots, etc.   We also learn about our partners, whether the crew worked effectively and where we needed to demonstrate better teamwork.  It’s where we can take a scientific approach to our job.  Film review must take place - it’s non-negotiable in our line of work.

If done with the goal to understand your mindset and thought process, improve your awareness, and to make changes in your future performance and teamwork, film review is an incredibly useful tool. 

However, real refereeing (what we actually do on the floor) is where the information we learn from watching film, and other training we do, needs to take effect.  The mental & physical preparation we do manifests itself each time we referee the GAME.

Compared to the film room where we can be objective, the art of refereeing, in my opinion, cannot be dehumanized.  The physical act of doing our job as referees is more like playing the game of “Twister.” We actively perform, which involves responding and reacting to several moving parts of the game occurring at the same time.  We make decisions in real-time based upon what’s actually taking place in the game at that time.  We need to be able to assess that information, process it and respond to activity accordingly.  Never will you have the same experience twice on the floor.  Considering angles, judgment and perception, it’s mentally challenging – and for me, probably more than physically challenging.

To learn the art of “decision-making,” we must first recognize that the skill requires attention, focus and real-time mental feedback you give to yourself – and only you can give it to yourself in the moment when you are working a game!

So, find THAT game from last season where you were performing your best, watch it and remember, start playing twister when you take the floor for your first scrimmage or game.  This game requires your attention!


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