February is crunch time. No matter what
level you are working this is the time when teams are ready to
make a run at seeding positions and tournament advancement. Playing
skills are at their best while player nerves and coaches emotions
are running high. This is the time when each referee must be
ready to perform at the highest level. Now is when all the abnormal
things start to happen and you must be ready to put out the fires.
Mental preparation and composure should
be at a season high. As a referee you should work to avoid as
many problematic situations (that are within your control) as
possible. Here are a few thoughts on how to prepare and why:
Your pre-game conference must be taken
seriously and must be inclusive (all referees involved). Shine
your shoes, get dressed, THEN sit down together and get ready
to work. DUMP ALL THE PHILOSOPHIES IN THE TRASH CAN. Go work
the game in the context of the rules.
When the officiating crew leaves the locker
room your emotional dial should be at #1.
When the teams leave their locker room
their dial will be at # 10.
During the team warm-up period start to
really focus mentally. Find the shooters, look at the post players
moves, find the pivot feet, etc.
The teams are preparing to play and perform
their physical talents.
The referees need to warm-up
and be ready for the plays that are forth-coming.
Meet the coaches with your most confident
game faceon. Have a good strong hand shake and positive
body language. Be professional and businesslike.
The coaches emotions are high and often
their confidence in you is low.
You can help put the coach at ease by the
level of confidence you show.
Get the game started in a positive manner.
If you are the tossing official, make sure the teams are facing
the proper direction (you just watched them warm-up for 15 minutes
so you should know the direction) and then make a good toss.
The players will be nervous especially
early in the game and could line up at the center jump facing
in the wrong direction. Be on top of the game and make that correction.
It is important for the crew to get off to a great start.
You must set a good tempo for the game
with solid play calling.
The teams will bring nervous energy
and higher intensity to the game.
The referee crew must bring understanding,
concentration, focus and good performance to the game. During
crunch time and tournament time the game must continue to be
free flowing. Do not take a letem play approach.
See the plays, call the plays. They will play as you allow them
Work hard in the half court (good rotations,
good lanes of vision). Handle your primary coverage and be ready
to assist in your secondary coverage when needed.
Call the obvious reroutes, impedes, hand checks, rough
Referee as a team (get your free throw shooters, help on out
of bounds plays, talk during time outs if needed, cover end of
Cover your areas of responsibility when in transition ( lead
is ahead of the play, center referee the pack, trail behind the
Manage the clocks. Every possession and every second is vital.
Make sure the clock starts and stops on time. If you are not
directly involved in the play, you need to manage the clocks.
Communicate and share as much information with your partners
as possible during time outs(whos ball, spot or run on
throw-in, number of free throws, shooter, etc.). You want to
be on the same page all night.