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For many, the offseason is welcomed in the same way a teacher welcomes summer break — with open arms. You ’ve worked hard but now it’s time for a break. Let’s be honest with ourselves though, no matter the profession or how long the supposed break is, there is always work to be done. Here are seven ways to maintain your “A” game in the offseason.

Teach

Find a way to get involved with new officials through being a clinician at camps or through your association. Teaching is an excellent learning tool. That may sound backward but when you are forced to articulate different facets of your job as an official, often you learn something new in the process. Teaching is also a great way to connect with new officials. Reach out to the leadership of your association and ask what opportunities might be available for you to teach.

Rest

Take a step back from all of it. You’ve earned it. It may seem like an obvious item on an offseason “to do” list but it is a vital one. With all the club sports, the opportunity to officiate year round is more prevalent than ever. No matter how tempting, take a break! Your body and mind need a chance to recover. You’ll be back at it before too long.

Read

Reading the rules and manuals for your given sport will always be an important piece of maintaining and elevating yourself as an official. However, going beyond the required reading can be beneficial as well. Find a non-rulebook on your sport. A history book can provide interesting facts you may not have known before. A coaching book can offer a completely different perspective on the game. Whatever the book may be, go beyond your normal reading and you’ll discover a new outlook on your sport. Browse the Referee Training Center for great officiating improvement reading opportunities. 

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Create

Get in touch with your association and volunteer to put together a presentation that can be used during a regular season meeting. Topics that have good video examples and generate good discussion will keep your members’ interest. Be sure to have an objective for your presentation and don’t lose sight of that as you create it. Have a fellow official, or better yet, your mentor go over your presentation with you to make sure everything is factual and on point.

Lead

Leadership will always be an important trait of a good official. Good leaders not only make the people around them better but are always looking for ways to improve themselves. Leadership assessments can be found with a simple search online and provide an abundance of information about your personal leadership style. Understanding how you lead will help you highlight your strengths and work through weak areas. There are endless books on the topic of leadership that can provide insight into what it takes to be a good leader. Pick one up and incorporate something you learn from it into your game. Discover our 5 lessons in leadership.

Work out

Don’t use your respective sports season to get in shape. The offseason is the time to maintain and/or get your body back to where it needs to be. Find a way to make it feel more like an outlet rather than a task. Join a class at your local gym or try a new workout to keep things fresh. When you look and feel good, your confidence level rises. Confidence is a trait that every top official in any given sport possesses. Being in good shape is not only good for your physical health but also your mental toughness.

Evaluate

Use the time away from the intensity of the season to get your personal life in order. Relationships with those closest to you can have both a positive and negative effect on your game. Yes, you are supposed to leave everything behind when you head out to officiate but subconsciously your personal life can impact your performance. Learn to evaluate yourself better. 

Evaluate your previous season and talk to your main person or people about how many games work for both parties. With the negative energy that can come from angry fans and irate coaches, the last thing you want is to come home to a frustrated partner. Maybe you already have an understanding of the sacrifices that need to be made on both ends, but with any relationship comes the need for tune ups. The offseason is a great time to discuss expectations and an action plan for the upcoming season.

Don’t think of your offseason as the “off” season, but rather a less rigorous extension of your regular season. Use it as an opportunity to further your understanding and see your sport in a new light.

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Note: This article is archival in nature. Rules, interpretations, mechanics, philosophies and other information may or may not be correct for the current year.

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