Monday, March 25, 2013

Refs Need Skills Too, Yo.

Reffing is definitely an art and a skill; I've tried my hand at it in a casual way last year, and it is a lot harder than it looks.  If ever you think reffing is easy, I suggest you don the zebra stripes and step up to the plate.  In fact, it would probably behoove (pun intended) ever skater to try his or her hand at reffing a couple of times, and I promise you that you won't be so quick to criticize.  But back to the ref skills!  Refs need almost as many skating skills as derby skaters, and they definitely need as much training to be masters of their skills.  Are you training to be the best ref you can be?  Answer these questions to see how you might be able to improve your training.

1.  How are you at skating?  No, seriously, how are you at skating? If you're not a very skilled skater, then you need to work on your derby skills.  It's so important for refs to be confident on their wheels.  If they aren't, they spend most of their time and brain power worrying about their feet instead of worrying what's happening on the track.  Practice your stops, transitions and backwards skating.  Does your league have any footwork drills you can join? Sometimes I feel like refs think that they aren't welcome to do league drills, but for the most part, I think derby skaters love love love to see their refs working on their skating skills. I personally want to give a ref a hug when he or she joins in on any endurance drill.

2.  Do you watch footage with other refs?  Derby skaters watch footage of themselves, painful though it may be, so they can learn what their patterns are.  Are you doing the same?  Sometimes it sucks watching yourself; it can be quite embarrassing, but you can learn so much! Watch with other refs and give each other feedback. Also remember that the camera angle is going to be different from the one you had when you were making your calls, so don't completely second guess every cut track call you made, but be honest with yourself.  What calls did you miss?  Did you overcall some penalties?  What calls did you make that were good?  Sometimes we focus in on the mistakes we make, and don't acknowledge the good stuff we do, skaters and refs included!

3.  Who do you train with?  If you're not in touch with other refs, then you aren't furthering your education; how often do you skate with other leagues?  Do you attend referee clinics?  Are you talking to other refs on the forums?  If you aren't doing these things, how do you know if your interpretations of the rules are correct?  Derby is a crazy sport, and because of the new ruleset changes, there are a ton of on the track lawyers just itching to come up with the new "passive offense."  Derby players and coaches think they're pretty clever and are constantly trying to game the system.  You might have to make some pretty interesting judgement calls on some of this "strategy" and discussing it with outside refs might give you a different perspective. 

Asking yourself these questions can help you focus on what you need to do to up your ref training.  Some of them might be easier to improve on than others, but you're such an important part to this game, that everyone wants you to grow and become even more awesome than you already are.

An oldy, but a good documentation of my time reffing the guys.

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