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If someone told you a way to get better by tomorrow, would you do it no matter what it was? How about if it took a week, a month or a year to see results? It’s safe to assume that most of us want to improve and be great officials. But is getting there worth your time and effort?

How much time you are willing to devote to improvement is totally up to you. We’re ready to share some quick fixes — ways you can improve by the time you wake up in the morning. We’ll follow these up next week with other ways to get better that will take some dedication and effort over the long haul.

Apply the following ideas and you’ll get better. Whether you are new to officiating or getting close to hanging it up, you can upgrade your game by putting the short-term or long-term plans into action.

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Get Better By Tomorrow

Confirm game times/partners

With most people being able to instantly communicate via smartphones, a quick confirmation only takes a minute or two. Although you may get your games six months in advance, it is always a good idea to double check what time the game starts and your partner(s). Surprise is often an official’s biggest enemy, so don’t be caught off guard by the 4 p.m. game that you thought started at 7 p.m.

Read any section of the rulebook, casebook, interps, mechanics manual

Knowledge is power! Take 20 minutes out of your day to better your officiating knowledge. Often an official will review a particular situation or rule only to have that very thing play out in their game the next day. Keep it fresh and fun by using a variety of educational and teaching materials.

Watch video

We all have an idea of how we look when we officiate. However, when we actually watch game video of ourselves working, it isn’t always as we thought. Bottom line, no tool is more useful than video in helping to improve your game. Sure, take a close look at your judgment calls, but also pay attention to the way you carry yourself on the field. We are in the perception business, and as they say, perception is reality!

Practice signals/mechanics in front of a mirror

Practice makes perfect, right? Not necessarily. If you are doing something over and over again, but it isn’t correct, you’re just wasting precious time. Whether you’re just starting out or trying out a brand-new signal or mechanic, take a few minutes and practice the right way in front of the mirror. See how you really look. Do your mechanics look strong? Use the mirror to help you project the image you want when it matters.

 Prepare a pregame

“The will to succeed means nothing without the will to prepare.” Nothing could be truer when it comes to officiating. If you walk onto the court without a complete understanding of the playing rules and mechanics, it probably isn’t going to be a fun couple of hours. The same holds true if you fail to conduct a pregame. It is especially important to have a solid pregame with people that you are working with for the first time. The entire crew needs to be on the same page. Focus on the things that you are most likely to encounter during the course of the game. If you have regular partners, your pregame may take on a slightly different flavor each time.

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Visit an officiating website

There are a number of websites that are specific to sports officials. Many collegiate and high school associations have their own pages. Most include caseplays and rules questions. Some also have great video clips. Also, don’t forget about sites that deal with other requirements that successful officials possess, such as leadership qualities and conflict resolution management. You can find a variety of these resources and a list of other officiating websites right here on

Call your mentor

None of us rolled out of bed one day and started to officiate. We all have someone who nudged us to put on that striped shirt or chest protector. Take a few minutes and give that person a call. Say thank you and have an officiating talk. Chances are they will have more words of wisdom to offer.


You could be a 20-year veteran or working your very first game. It doesn’t matter your experience level, any official can be an NASO member. Join this 26,000-plus member-driven community and see why no other investment is better than an NASO membership. Not only will you receive the monthly Referee magazine and discounts on world-class training, but a number of other benefits await you, such as $3 million in general liability insurance, game call and assigner’s coverage, immediate access to the Member Information and Consultation Program, an assault protection program and the Marriott VIP card. Learn more about NASO.

Do a quiz

Take a few minutes and test your rules knowledge. None of us want to misapply a key rule during crunch time. Staying current on rule changes, new mechanics and the latest officiating philosophies often make the difference between good and great officials. And the difference between the postseason and “waiting ’til next year.” Check out all the Free Quizzes.

Get a good night’s sleep

Remember mom and dad stressing that you get a good night’s sleep the day before a big test? Officiating is simply a series of big tests. You won’t be on top of your game if you’re tired, sluggish and worn out. Put yourself in a position to succeed by getting the proper amount of rest. It will pay off when you are still fresh in the fourth quarter!

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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.

This article is the copyright of ©Referee Enterprises, Inc., and may not be republished in whole or in part online, in print or in any capacity without expressed written permission from Referee. The article is made available for educational use by individuals.

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