OFF-SEASON WORK: FOR GETTING BETTER? OR GETTING BAD?
You and I, like many others, will have opportunities to “do off-season ball.” Unofficial scrimmages, camps, or non-school (AAU) tournaments and leagues all offer chances to gear up for the season to come, to get/stay in shape, to work with other partners and to “see plays”.
How can you use those opportunities as a tool to improve your game for next season? How can you turn your off season work into an avenue to make you a better official? A positive outcome is attainable as long as you follow a list of guidelines when doing basketball off season work.
WHAT NOT TO DO – DON’T DEVELOP BAD HABITS
Strive to keep your performance at a high level. It’s tempting to use the slogan, “It’s just summer basketball,” as an easy excuse not to use proper mechanics. Don’t fall prey to that trap. If you do games for six months using poor mechanics, they are going to creep into your repertoire come November. Sure, there will be other officials who might make fun of you for being “so formal in the off months,” but pay no attention to them.
Don’t practice sloppiness in the summer and then inflict your partners with it in the winter. Maintain crisp mechanics in the off-season work and it will pay dividends once the regular season starts. You and I need good habits for the pressure moments when we fall back on what we’d do without thinking. Don’t acquire bad habits which then become part of you and set you up for lack of success when it really counts.
If you’re expanding your sights by attending a college camp, that’s great! But when you return to do high school basketball, leave your college mechanics for another time and another setting. There’s a great amount of positioning and observation techniques that NCAA observers and clinicians can teach you which will benefit your high school officiating tremendously. But keep your NCAA signaling off the high school floor. “When in Rome…..”
Try to administer these games in the same professional manner than you would if it were a regular season contest. That way, you won’t have to spend two months getting rid of the lazy, unapproved mechanics, phrases and quirks you developed during the summer.
WHAT TO DO – WORK ON THINGS THAT MAKE YOU BETTER
Working four summer scrimmages in a row can wear on your patience and concentration. Fight it by picking out one thing each game for you to focus on for improvement. Talk about this with your partners. Help them work on things they may be focusing on. You can choose any area in which you believe your game needs improvement and gain from the experience while also providing a valuable, reliable service to the teams you’re working with.
WHAT TO DO – MAKE IT A WORKOUT
You’ve maybe heard it said, “This is summer ball–we don’t do proper 2-person switching.” That’s terrible. “Take it easy…we need to conserve our energy.” That suggests you’d do better to be in shape before attending that scrimmage day or camp, rather than walk up and down the court. If six games a day are too much for you, consider not doing that many. Keep in mind that off-season work is an excellent time to shed a few pounds keeping up with the up-tempo style of summer basketball. Working hard each game is a perfect way to help reach any type of weight loss or physical conditioning goal.
WHAT TO DO – “SEE” PLAYS
Summer ball usually means lots of one-on-one activity That means more chances to officiate drives to the basket. That means you’ll benefit all the more to intently officiate the defense. That means ideal circumstances practicing with partners when to focus on off-ball coverage and officiate proper PCA’s. Officiating basketball comes down to this: “The more plays you see, the better you’ll be.” Great thought to keep in mind going into summer scrimmages or camps.
Much like anything, taking time to invest work on the little things can offer big dividends in the long run. Even though the regular season may seem like the furthest thing from your mind, the time you invest now in such focused areas of improvement and striving for “doing things right”, albeit in the off-season work, will be beneficial for you and for the partners you work with the coming school year.