(Photo Credit: Bob Messina)

The ability to grow your schedule is a key component to your development. We all want more games because we associate the number of games with our level of success. That correlation may be fundamentally flawed, but it is a common belief among officials. The process of building and managing your schedule is as important as the number of games assigned but is often overlooked by eager officials looking to increase their game totals. The following guidelines will help you grow and manage your schedule for the upcoming season in a healthy, sustainable way.

Make time for the important things.

It is very tempting when planning next year’s schedule to leave all of your dates wide open for supervisors to assign you games. The thought process is that the more available you are, the more likely you are to get games. Although that may be true, are you really available to work every day of every week during the upcoming season? The answer is probably not.

Be honest with yourself and determine ahead of time just how often it is feasible for you to work. Have you taken into account whether your employer will allow you to leave early four consecutive nights to head to a ballgame? Have you considered family members’ birthdays, anniversaries or school concerts? Have you thought about how many nights each week you can be gone without sacrificing your marriage or relationships? During those months when you are removed from the grind of games, it is easy to lose sight of those considerations.

Don’t allow yourself to trump those important non-officiating events for the possibility of getting a game. You will be kicking yourself when you have to miss an important event because of another game. After taking all of those items into account, close those dates and stick with them. If you are doing your job on the field or court, the supervisors will work around your closed dates.

Prioritize your leagues.

As you begin the scheduling process for the upcoming season, think realistically about the leagues in which you work. Is there a particular supervisor who has been more generous to you than others? Is there a certain league that makes more geographic sense for you?

If you answered “yes” to either of those questions, perhaps it is time to start prioritizing assignments. In doing that, you will be giving that supervisor the ability to choose from your open dates before having to work around another league’s assignments. Supervisors appreciate the gesture, and it often results in more assignments. It is critical to let the supervisor know that you are prioritizing his or her league so that the supervisor can expedite your assignments. That allows you to move on to another supervisor.

Prioritizing leagues carries with it the potential for alienating other supervisors who may be lower on your list for whatever reason. That means that you run the risk of hurting your standing and assignments with other leagues at the expense of the leagues you prioritized. That concept is often used by more established officials who have developed relationships with supervisors who allow them the ability to exercise that strategy. Furthermore, you need to be honest with yourself about the likelihood of getting assignments in the leagues you prioritize. Is it likely that you will get assignments from the best league in town if you just started officiating last season? You need to be smart when prioritizing leagues. When used correctly, it can be an effective tool in managing your schedule.

Keep your closed dates updated with supervisors.

Nothing is more frustrating to supervisors than assigning you to a game on a date on which you are no longer available. Often your availability changes after submitting your closed dates to a supervisor, however the onus is on you to keep the supervisor abreast of those changes. Thanks to online assigning, it is not difficult to keep supervisors updated with changes to your availability. That simple courtesy will allow you to accept the full number of games for which the supervisor had you originally slotted. If you fail to update your availability, and a supervisor assigns you a game on a date which you are already booked, there is no guarantee that the supervisor will be able to replace that date. Keeping on top of your closed dates will allow you to maximize the number of games you receive from each league.

Honesty is the best policy.

That axiom is not only true in life, but also when managing your schedule. During the assigning process, be open and honest with supervisors about your desire to move up or about any possible conflicts that could arise. Find out the supervisor’s policy about turnbacks, and under what circumstances he or she finds them acceptable. If your goals and the philosophy of the supervisor are at odds, do not accept the assignments. If the supervisor is open to working with you should conflicts arise, accept the assignments.

It is better to be upfront with supervisors about the possibility of getting off assignments, rather than upsetting them during the season when a situation arises. Be aware that your honesty could negatively affect your number of assignments, but it will save you a thousand headaches down the road.

Figure out how many games per week, month and year work best for you and try to set up your schedule accordingly.

The work you do on the front end will save you come next season.

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