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Old Mon Jan 13, 2003, 03:12pm
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I've been reading "Success Sports Officiating" and one of the things they recommend for officials is attending team practice or coaching clinics for your sport.
I'm curious if anyone does this as part of their basketball officiating career? If so what are some specific things you learned from the experience and how did you go about setting this up? Did you offer to speak about officiating to the team or just observe practice? Did you observe at the level you officiate or at a higher/lower level? My thoughts are that this would be very valuable if you never played B-Ball seriously but if you have played under coaches and know the fundamentals of basketball then would there be benefit to observing a practice? I guess there is probably always room for improvement on your knowledge of basketball.

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Old Mon Jan 13, 2003, 03:25pm
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I have never attended a team practice and I don't quite understand the purpose of such a visit. In fact, visiting a team practice could force you to not accept a game involving that team because of the impression of impropriety. In the area where I officiate, we are encouraged to referee at scrimmages between high school teams prior to the season. It is good for the teams (in that it gives them an idea of what to expect from us) and it is good for us because it enables us to get our "court legs" back for the season.
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Old Mon Jan 13, 2003, 03:41pm
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Thumbs up Go baby

I think it is a great idea (haven't made it a practice but have seen a few). Understanding what is going on for a coach... understanding how a team's offense/defense is supposed to work. Seeing the activity can only help sharpen your judgement for the upcoming the season.

I don't see a whole lot of difference (impropriety) between watching a practice and watching an actual game. A practice allows you a greater understanding of the coach's aspect. A coaching clinic would probably be even more focused on our potential interface with the coach during a game situation.

I think there is much to gain and little to justify to show your propriety.
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Old Mon Jan 13, 2003, 03:42pm
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Since I never played the sport, I can see where it might be a little helpful. Even if you played, it would give you an idea on how the game is taught (may be totally different than when you played). But not sure it would be worth the trouble (especially since most schools in my area practice while I'm working) and worth the possible conflict of interest if you happened to get the school on your schedule.

I can see the benefit to the players if an official went to their practice and covered the misconceptions we often talk about and how the game is generally called. Again, I would be concerned about the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Scrimmages are good...just not too sure about going to practice.

Now I would like to see the players be required to read the rule book, but judging from the number of kids who get nailed with No Pass-No Play in this area I'm not even sure if that would do any good.
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Old Mon Jan 13, 2003, 04:02pm
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The problem with watching a practice as opposed to a game is that at the practice there is only one team present. People could say that you attended the practice because you 1)like the coach, 2)like the team or 3) you have an alterior motive. In any event I think that it is a bad idea.
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Old Mon Jan 13, 2003, 04:09pm
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Probably the ideal would be to go to a practice where you have no chance of getting a game for that team, such as varsity if you are a JV ref, JUCO if you are a varsity ref, private school if you only ref public leagues, etc. But I think you can also get overly worried about potential conflict of interest. They aren't buying you - you are just getting an opportunity to learn from a team. And you will see different things in a practice than you will in a scrimmage.

I have heard of a number of teams that have a ref come to a practice and go through rules wiuth the players, so why not stay and learn from them? If you attend a practice right after tryouts and see how fundamentals are taught and performed (especially if you haven't played the game at a serious level), it might help you recognize things better on the court.
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Old Mon Jan 13, 2003, 04:12pm
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I can't really see the rationale for attending a team practice. As others have said, scrimmages are one thing, but there are generally two or more teams there.

I was invited to speak at a HS summer camp/clinic once as an official. The AD/BB coach of one of the schools in a small Christian HS school league that I worked in ran a camp for kids in the league and asked if I wanted to speak for a few minutes and address rules questions.

It worked out well, I approached it from the point of "referees are human too, most of us played at some time and this is how we stay close to the game." I was really trying to recruit new officials from the kids after they got out of HS and college. I don't see where this was any problem or conflict of interest issue.
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Old Mon Jan 13, 2003, 04:52pm
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I probably work for 30-40 different coaches during a season. So some of you are saying that if I go to a scrimmage and see the tactics of two coaches rather than just one, I have committed no impropriety. I wonder what the other 35 coaches would say??? I EXPECT they would say NOTHING. Not because I saw two coach's teams but because they wouldn't care. I WOULD EXPECT that the coach you did watch would likely be impressed, "Here's a Ref that's trying to improve his skills."

You guys are over working this aren't you?

I'm not saying get down on the court and get rebounds but set in the back row and watch the ball movement; watch the post play; watch for the defense types/positioning; watch for particular player nuances/movements; listen to what the coach is saying to the players; listen to how he directs them to act; listen for the tactics he tells them to use; listen to how the coach reacts to his players; etc.

If anything, you will pick some things that you can call AGAINST this team... that opposing coaches will want called.

I would assume you are going to have to have a previous relationship with this coach or you are probably not going to be allowed in his practice.... See, you already have a conflict of interest.... you're his buddy.
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Old Mon Jan 13, 2003, 06:12pm
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I gotta believe this suggestion applies to HS levels, and is an effort to "humanize" the officials in the student/player's eyes.

I've spoken at a couple practices, by invitation from the coach or by the league, to go over new rule changes.

I tell them that understanding the rules is a vital element of improving your game.

Invariably, the players will ask "..this happened last year, why did/didn't I get a call".

My stock response is usually "I can't comment on a play I didn't see, but you know that officials make mistakes, and will continue to make mistakes. The best thing you can do as a player is to play on, and show your coach that you can play through a tough situation, while other players may complain or lose focus."

Educating players about our job outside of a game environment is always a good opportunity to help promote sportsmanship and break down barriers between officials and teams.
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Old Mon Jan 13, 2003, 11:37pm
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I think it is a good idea. I have attended many basketball practices but it was before becoming an official. When I ran Cross-Country in college, I often was warming up for my workout about the same time basketball practice started so I would shoot around a little with the players before heading out on my 8 mile run. When I got back I would watch the practice as I drank my Gatoraid and tried to cool down.

As an official you see certain things happen and you know there has to be a reason for it. Sometimes it takes sitting through a practice or clinic in order to understand he purpose in such action. What variations are there on a full court press. What are the different cuts? Where will the screens be set? As an official you have to look at each screen to determine if it was set legally. If you don't know where that screen will be set you could miss the screen.

I wouldn't go out of my way to find a practice. Sometimes just showing up early for a junior high game at a small school will find the varsity on the floor practicing. Just sit and watch for a while and enjoy it if before making your way to the locker room to dress and pregame.
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