It’s summer and you haven’t been to camp since you were 10-years-old. You stopped going to summer camp because you wanted to play summer basketball and “work on your game” and your crazy parents said ok (my mother did) and let you play in every tournament you could. But after playing lots and lots of basketball and, for some of you, having a good to great high school and college career, you’ve finally flipped and become a referee. Now you have to decide whether you should go to camp, Referee Camp.
If you are a new official or have been in stripes for the last few years and want to get ahead, Referee Camp is a requirement. Camp is the place to hone your skills and be seen by assigners from different college leagues. That’s where they troll for talent. That’s where you work your but off, literally. Generally, there’s a class session, maybe some floor work, but lots and lots of basketball with anything from a little to a lot of critiquing.
Camps are a test. You’re a referee. You know the rules, but you have to get them right when you need to get them right. You only have a fraction of a second to react and then physically relay the information to your partner, the table and the audience, which may include some of the top coaches or scouts in the country, and the players. Not to mention, you are probably being recorded and the game your officiating may eventually be seen by millions of people (depends on who played the game and whether you screwed up or not).
Mrs. Roberts, my neighbor when I was a kid in Morrisania, used to say “From your lips to God’s ears” when you said something she hoped would come true. Camp instructors make comments and suggestions in the same way. They point out things with the understanding that you should commit the new knowledge to memory and use it at every opportunity. After all, your being graded and your basketball future and future income could depend on it
The most important thing you will learn is professional consistency. You are expected to be mechanically correct, but developing consistent adjudication is a talent. Just yesterday, watching the NBA Summer League, a player head faked, got the defender in the air and then jumped into contact beyond the 3-point line. The contact was minimal and the shot attempt was really half-hearted but the referee called the foul. On the very next play at the other end of the court the same 2 players exchanged roles and actions. The same referee didn’t make the call. The player who shot immediately turned, made a comment and a pleading gesture to the referee. Wow, what inconsistency. Learn to get it right. Go to camp. Do yourself a favor, be in shape before you go. Look the part. Being overweight and having dreads and a beard isn’t going to get you ahead.
ps: A summer referee may officiate 90 to 100 games! You owe it to yourself and everyone concerned to be the best referee you can be. Sure the “road work” in the sun will get and keep you in shape. But more importantly, summer is a great venue for developing your mechanics and habits. You will be seeing game situations over and over and over and its important you digest these situations and regurgitate the right call every time. Not sure about a rule, Get the answer from someone you trust and apply the rule and mechanic assiduously. Summer Basketball is mostly HS rules and mechanics and I am always taken aback by the number of referees that get lazy, get it wrong or “only use pro mechanics and rules” because that’s where they want to be. This isn’t a shot at college or pro-am refs but you shouldn’t work on your college or pro mechanics in a HS rules game.