Football has wrapped up, basketball is winding down, the holidays are a blur and BOOM: Lacrosse season is here. It sneaks up on us every year. But being ready for the season is key to having a successful year as an official. If you want be regarded as a top official, now is the time to prepare. As of today there are only 60 days until the first game and you have a lot to do. Here are some tips to make this year a great one so you are ready on day 1.
Get in Shape Physically
You are getting older and slower but the players never do! It gets harder each year to keep up physically. When was your last physical? Are you eating right? Do yourself a favor and put in some conditioning work now. Anything you can do to improve your conditioning will pay dividends this season. Remember, what sells a call is positioning, not judgment. Are you prepared to be in the right spot?
Be Mentally Prepared
There are a some HUGE rules changes this year. Start by reading over the press releases and articles out now so that you are ready to tackle the rule book when it becomes available. You can start with our post on the 2014 Rules Changes. What are the Points of Emphasis? The rules changes and POEs will of course affect our mechanics. Start thinking now what might change and formulate questions you might have.
Take care of your business now. Have you registered with your Association? With US Lacrosse? Paid your dues? Have you marked yourself ready on Arbiter? Blocked dates you know you will be unavailable? On Zebraweb if you work COC games? Do you know when the training meetings are and where? When the GHSA online clinic is available? Do you know where your uniforms are?
Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. If you want to considered a top official, look like one. Make sure that your uniform is up to snuff. Do you need a new shirt or a new hat. Are you sure? Make sure your shorts are clean, your shoes are shined and your patches are sewn on professionally. Are your flags ratty and old, buy new ones. If you look like a professional and you will be treated like a professional.
Work with a Mentor
All officials, no matter at what level of officiating, need experienced advisers who offer support and advice in all aspects of officiating. If you have a question, you need to find someone who can help you work it out. This means building a relationship with mentor. Take the initiative and reach out to an official you trust and respect. Most officials will jump at the chance to help you out., but you need to take the first step.
To be a good official you need to keep working at your craft. Any official who believes they have “figured it out” and has nothing to learn should probably retire. You will screw up. We all do. ADMIT IT. If something occurs in a game and you aren’t sure if you made the correct decision or handled it the best way possible, go back to the Laws of the Rules Book and Mechanics Manual and double check. Reach out to your mentor and discuss the the situation, decision you made and whether or not you should or could have done something differently. But improvement will only occur if you acknowledge that there is room for improvement. Take what your mentor says to heart and don’t make the same mistake again.
If you want to get better you need do come up with a realistic plan to make it happen. You need to set goals. They should be straightforward and specifics and they should be achievable. Identify what specific steps you need to accomplish in order to make it happen. Track your progress and set a deadline.
So, rather than saying “I want to get better,” set the goal of improving your signaling. You need to learn all of the signals and be sure you:
- stand still
- use the proper signal
- give signals that are crisp, big and wide
- use CNOTE every time.
The steps you will take to achieve this are: first, practice the signals at home until you master them and then demonstrate during the game. Ask your partner to watch you during a game and offer feedback. How many times did you use CNOTE, were your signals sharp and crisp. Have someone film your games from the table areas so that you can see yourself. Once you have mastered this you can move on to another goal.
I tend to choose two specific things each season that I hope to improve upon. Last year I focused on using my 20-second timer ever time I during dead balls and verbally communicating with my partner throughout the game. In previous years, I concentrated on beating the ball to the goal, out of bounds mechanics, mastering the coaches certification, the coin toss, and the goal to face-off transition. This year I want to make sure I pump my arm when starting my 20-second timer on a clear and be sure that I do a clear and concise Pre-Game with my partner before every game.
Good luck as you prepare for the 2014 the season. Work hard and work smart. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, feel free to contact me.