Saturday, February 24, 2007

06/07 Season in Review

I improved a good deal this year.

I'm confident that the evaluators will notice. OK, there will be one low score in there, due to a bungled rule in the big game, but I can forgive myself that, and the low score is dropped anyway. And, of course, I have found it difficult to predict evaluators scores in the past...some of the most complimentary post-game love-fests have resulted in low scores, and some reamings have resulted in high scores. And, in any event, the scores don't matter at all since I'm moving to a new city this July. The only way making the playoff list will affect me is through my confidence/ego. But what's important is that I feel like I did very well this year.

First, let's go to the numbers:

22 varsity games.
Zero JV games. Which was nice, I admit...I was fresher for varsity this year.
3 freshman games.
9 junior high games.
12 rec-league games of various levels (5th through 9th grade).

Total: 46 ballgames. Down two from last year...would have been higher, but loads of weather cancellations were never quite made up.

Now, let's look at what my goals were from the end of last year:
1. Mechanics. I'm too loosey-goosey, and since I can't use my voice, I need to overcompensate with perfect, crisp, confident motions. I will have perfect posture on the floor and exude confidence.
2. Screens. I want to get those rules cold, and enforce them confidently.
3. NO MORE CALLING ACROSS THE KEY AS LEAD unless it's an egregious miss by a partner.
4. Shooters. I can't let my eyes follow the shot. More than one evaluator caught me doing this, and it's inexcusable.

And now, analysis of how I did on all of these this year:

1. Mechanics. I'm still too loosey-goosey, according both the videotape and an evaluator I trust. Some of this is simply physicality. I'm a loosey-goosey guy; I've always had arms that sort of flop around like wet spaghetti. But I think this has a fairly simple solution that I've noticed as I've watched a lot of great refs working the HS playoffs.

I just need to slow the hell down.

If, after making the call, I inhaled once slowly, just standing with my fist in the air, I would then be able to slow down the mechanic as well. Instead of bouncing in and shouting "nonononono" while my arms did whatever the hell they were doing, I'd be able to give a nice, definitive, authoritative, solid mechanic. I'm fine at the table, I's loosey-gooseyness at the spot I need to work on.

2. Screens. I didn't notice a problem with these this year. I probably passed on one or two I could have called, but next year I'll be more definitive on the bad screens, especially as C. The rules, however, I feel 100% confident with now.

3. Poaching across the key as lead: I'd be lying if I said this hadn't happened this year...but I did improve a lot. I've also learned to be a little more patient as I did it, and to defer on any double whistles. People are less upset about this call than they used to be. I wasn't perfect, but I'm satisfied with how this went this year.

4. Staying with shooters. Noticed no issues whatsoever with this.

So, three out of four ain't bad.

Beyond these personal points of emphasis, I just felt like my games were really smooth this year. Even the single most challenging one never felt like it was out of control. I never got a feeling like my partners and I were messing up a perfectly good simply was a smooth year. I don't know whether I'm better or more confident or what, but I never felt like a game was in the crapper.

On top of that, I handled higher-pressure situations and games well. The big one, in spite of the one error, felt okay...the next one will feel better, I'm sure. (Update: one of those teams is already in the state tournament, and the other will be in if they win today. Yes, it really was as big as it appeared!) Other non-marquee matchups that were nonetheless important also went well, and the blowouts and lousy games were pretty good too. I simply felt up for every matchup. If I were sticking around town next year, and if my scores got me up to the playoff list, I'd be excited for the challenge of a really, legitimately, ohmygod big game. But, given that the best I can hope for is to be the newbie on the varsity list, I'll use the year to get my bearings, make an impression, and get another year's worth of experience.

Additionally, every varsity game I did this year except for the last one was a 3-person game. At some point during this year, 3-person became my default way of thinking instead of 2-person. That's a huge, definitive change in my mindset. When I closed out the year with a 2-person varsity game, it just felt weird. Given my past discomfort with 3-person, that's a major bit of progress.

Coaches were fine this year. I went from 1 T last year (on an assistant) to 3 T's this year (all on head coaches, a stretch of 3 Ts in 5 varsity games). I thought it was a coincidence at the time, and it turned out it was, since I didn't have a T the whole rest of the season. Mostly, I continue to feel like I'm getting more respect from coaches. Maybe it's that I bring more of a presence these evaluator and the video seem to show that. Perhaps I get more respect because coaches recognize me now...I entered several gyms this year to friendly waves from coaches, and while that's not something I consciously work for, it does make the job easier. Perhaps those coaches now know that yelling at me will be ineffective (because I'm either too good or too'll have to ask the coaches). As a new guy in town next year, I'll be starting at square one. I'm confident I can get back.

In any event, here are some things I can work on for next season.

1. SLOW THE HELL DOWN. All of the worst errors I made this year have going too fast as a common denominator. Additionally, as I said before, this negatively impacts my mechanics as well. Next year, in weird situations, I will breathe once before making a big decision. Literally, physically, deeply breathe while in the conference. It's a trick I learned as a singer...when you're nervous, breathe. Don't remember to breathe, don't focus on breathing...actually breathe. And when I stick my fist up, I will breathe once before delivering the call at the spot.

2. FIND A DEFENDER. ALWAYS. I got better at looking at the defense this year, but was still surprised by a defender or two. In the last month or so, I improved, mostly because I started to look not only at the ballhandler, but where the ballhandler is going so I could pick up a defender. The thing is though, paradoxically, the more I improved at refereeing the defense, the more I realized what a long way I had to go in refereeing the defense. I suspect this will be a career-long of those tough tasks that I always get better at, but never 100% get well. Still, it's on the list.

3. MORE PARTNER AWARENESS. Slowing down will help this too, but I'd like to bring my partners a little more into my know what they're looking at as well as what I'm looking at. There were bumpy T/C ball tradeoffs this year, and a couple of times I missed a double whistle (some near-miss blarges). I will be a better partner, not just at dead balls, but on live balls too.

4. NO MORE ZONING OUT. Late in games, I find I have gotten tunnel-vision. This is a little related to #3, but I need to find a way to be less zombie-like late in games. Is it fatigue causing this? Whatever it is, I need to beat it.

And thus ends season #8. Next season is season #9, but season #1 with everything new as I move from my big city to a slightly smaller city three hours away. You can rest assured that I'll be blogging about it here. This blog makes me a better do those of you who read it, whether you comment or not. Just knowing that there are officials out there, reading this, whom I have to be accountable to makes a difference to me and pushes me to get better more so than I would without this blog.

So thanks, y'all, for reading.

Have a nice summer, but keep coming back. I'll be sporadically talking about officiating-related news.


At 5:23 AM, Anonymous massref said...

Nice evaluation. Good to see an official taking stock of his/her situation honestly. Sounds like a successful season, with minor exceptions.

The slowing down thing is crucial. All my "big" mistakes are due to being too quick. Correctable errors are usually because I was too quick at the table. Bad calls are usually because I was too quick on the whistle. It's just a self-discipline thing. It's hard to break habits, tho.

Have a good off-season. I'll be looking for camp tidbits.


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