A frustrating and isolating problem in officiating is when you’re not advancing. You’ve put the time in, gone to camps, helped your local association, worked all the games you can, but you’re still working the small school games in out-of-the way towns. What’s wrong? Who do you talk to? You’re on your own, but there is help.

Everyone agrees that getting feedback, finding a mentor and working with your local association are three critical steps if you’re faced with assignment stagnation.

Mike McCarron, a San Francisco and Bay Area football official, was comfortable with his movement, but also said that some officials just aren’t going to make it. “Some just don’t have the talent,” he said. “Not everyone can officiate; you need a certain innate ability, or you can’t go far.”

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He gave an analogy of someone who is a good public speaker but can’t sing. “Some officials can quote the rulebook chapter and verse but can’t make calls,” McCarron said. “Others can get into the ebb and flow, but are marginal on the rules. You have to recognize what you’re good at and that it will only get you to a certain level.”

To get to the next level means asking for feedback and finding an assessor to help you grow, according to Kelly Witt, a member of the National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association in the Omaha, Neb. area.

“You may be working out in Timbuktu, but you never know when or who might see you. That opportunity could take you to the next level before you know it,” said Witt.

Susan Bargo, a former NCAA Division I women’s basketball official who currently helps administer six leagues, re-emphasized getting back to the basics — preparation and conditioning.

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“Don’t set expectations you can’t control. There are a lot of other officials with the same expectations,” Bargo said. “Take what the game gives you. Find a small support system (mentor) who you trust and who will keep you grounded in your expectations. Be prepared for opportunity when it’s presented.”

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Everyone struggles with advancing at some point in their officiating career, according to Walters. It could be getting past Little League or moving beyond high school ball.

“It’s tough to progress and do it right. It can eat you alive,” Walters said. “You need confidence and must be prepared.

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“If you’re not advancing as fast as you’d like, go to a veteran and have him or her take a look at you. What are you not doing that they are doing? The cream will rise to the top.”

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