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The process for officials to prepare for the season includes attending a training camp or clinic. Clinician Connie Perkins, Kennewick, Wash., talks with officials during a stop in the action. Washington officials Eric Weisgerber, Richland; Greg Boose, Bonney Lake; and Buzz Strand, Longview. (Photo Credit: Dale Garvey)

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lashback. Sitting in front of my computer, I take a peek at my inbox. It’s the middle of August and I’m waiting to see if my hard work has paid off. I attended three collegiate camps this summer. Each camp presented its own challenges and each supervisor his or her own expectations.

Today, I face the moment of truth. Did I get in? Was I good enough? Was my standard of excellence equal to the task? Today the answer was a much anticipated yes! I began to shout, “I got in! I got in!” with the same fervor as someone who had climbed to the top of a mountain. I called my friends and we celebrated the dream come true. But little did I know, the dream would soon become a distressing nightmare.

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Fast forward one week.

It’s 3 a.m. and I wake from a dead sleep. Like a scene from “Nightmare on Elm Street,” I scream as if Freddy Krueger had just gained access to my residence. However, Freddie’s dead and my screams were only heard in my mind. I jump out of bed and run to my computer. There it is in black in white. I forgot to block my closed dates.

I got into a new conference, which was added to my scheduling website. The problem was I previously was given several dates by another assigner to close specifically in that conference. I originally did the right thing and blocked my closed dates immediately.

However, I waited an entire week before realizing that I needed to block those dates from the new conference. As I look at my calendar, I can see pending games from the new conference on two dates that I needed to close for another conference. Essentially, I am toast. What do I do next? Who takes priority? Who should I call first? I wished I could ignore the conflict and hoped it would go away. I’m double booked!

The situation could have been avoided. All I had to do was block the dates upon getting into the new conference. In this world of technological advancements, now is your only option. We must have a “do-it-now” mentality.

Here are five preseason tips that will enable you to be successful and eliminate stress-related dawdling.

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1. Renew.

You are about to embark on a brand new season. It’s time to renew your commitment and re-ignite your passion for officiating. Get out your journal and write down the main reason that you became an official. Reflect upon your first game. Feel the butterflies in your stomach. Recall how you felt when you got that initial varsity game. Think of when you got the call right, but the fans got it wrong. They booed you for a solid minute. Why did you continue to officiate? Re-tell your story and renew your passion for officiating. After the spark has been lit, redefine your commitment. What goals do you have? What will you do different from last season? Who will be your mentors? Those are all decisions that must be made now. Do not wait. Your success starts with renewed enthusiasm.

2. Remember.

In order to have a stress-free season, it is essential to keep your assigner happy. Do that with the following checklist of responsibilities:

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√ Return emails instantly.
√ Sign and send contracts promptly.
√ Update information in your scheduling website straightaway.
√ Fill out all paperwork precisely.
√ Block unavailable dates.
√ Return background checks and criminal history immediately.
√ Gather addresses and phone numbers of schools.
√ Prioritize your conferences, leagues or chapter affiliations.

The checklist is not all-inclusive. You may add to it information specific to your situation. Bottom line is you can avoid heartburn and make assigners happy by being proactive.

3. Run. Run. Run.

You have to be in shape in order to officiate basketball at any level. You cannot step on the court in October, November or December without having committed to a fitness regimen in July, August and September. Among the worst stress an official can experience is not being in position to see a play. It is our responsibility to the athletes. We owe it to them to be prepared. There is no excuse for an out-of-shape official.

Your fitness routine should simulate the demands of the sport. Basketball consists of quick starts and stops coupled with sprinting and jogging. Visit referee.com/hoops-workout for a two-minute basketball specific workout. Don’t wait. Do it now.

4. Review.

Having renewed your commitment to officiating, it’s time to go to work. Great officials need to see themselves on video. Critique a game from the last season. Break it down and list areas needing improvement. Those areas may include: running gait, signaling, game management, call accuracy and consistency. Take a second look at last year’s evaluations. Get out notes from summer camps. What were the camp teaching points? What advice did the observers offer?

Finally, review rules. Go over last year’s points of emphasis (POEs) and rule changes. Join the NCAA Hub, if applicable. Take the rules test when it first comes out. Get a partner or join a study group to discuss new rules and test questions. Take those steps before blowing your whistle this season. Preparation combats all forms of stress.

5. Referee.

Proper training is a prerequisite for reducing stress and building confidence. For officials, training is on the job. Referee in a fall league, a middle school practice, the YMCA or an AAU tournament. Use this time to implement the new rules and POEs. Opportunities to improve your skills are unlimited. Don’t let your first game of the season be your first game of the season. Get ready to jump-start your season now.

Yes, I somehow survived my nightmare of procrastination. I contacted both assigners and shared my dilemma. The new conference assigner was understanding and recognized my previous commitment. I was lucky. However, my stress level was through the roof. No, those tips won’t eliminate all the stress, but stress-related procrastination stinks.

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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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