The difficulty here is that our heroine has failed to recognize the double rule of officiating: don’t interrupt unless really needed, and once you have interrupted; return to play as soon as you possibly can. The reality is that when the ball is alive, attention is focused on the players. As long as fair play is going on, there’s no need to interrupt, but when a rule is broken, the official must do what has to be done as quickly and efficiently as possible, and then get on with the play. The effect is to avoid making some officials the focus of attention any more than is absolutely necessary. To fail to do so is to make a difficult job even more difficult by creating one or more irritants that could cause player, coach or fan reaction. The secret to enjoying the roses is to avoid the thorns.
DEAD BALL THORNS
Don’t say any more than is necessary. Too much verbalizing invites reaction and takes the shine off an otherwise excellent decision. During free throws, “one shot, ball in play off the ring” is a bit of an overkill. Even more inadvisable is the staging of elaborate rules clinics during dead ball periods. If a player poses a fair question, keep the answer as simple and professional as possible. Once such an answer has been given, additional clarification is neither wise nor necessary. Move crisply during the dead ball. This isn’t the time for a slow strut or a casual stroll. Slow movement prolongs the dead ball and often suggests an officiousness; apathy or disgust, which invites abuse, like treading water in the piranha tank.
Avoid the suggestion of officiousness in mannerisms. Don’t hold the foul signal longer than necessary or challenge a player with prolonged eye contact. Avoid projecting a “make my day” attitude. During time-outs, stay still! “Find a line and toe up to it” is a good rule of thumb. Proper mechanics covers this, but keep away from casual conversation with table officials and fans. Sometimes it might be necessary to confer with your partner; a time-out taken in the closing seconds of a close game is an excellent example. Normally, however, keep your distance during a time-out. Too much conversation could be read as “second-thinking” a judgment or general discomfort and/or lack of confidence by one official or another. Unless it’s absolutely necessary, don’t interrupt the coach during a time-out. Notification of a fifth foul is a good example of “absolutely necessary”.
Be clear in your communication with the scorer and/or timer. Remember that you’re on a “party line”, and what you say to table officials you’re also saying to everyone else. Be certain that everyone knows what was called and what’s going to happen next. Remember, too, that approaching a scorer’s table can be a lot like clerking the bargain counter at Sears. Keep your priorities in order: foul – basket – substitution – time-outs (FBST). Don’t bring in subs until fouls have been charged and points credited; don’t grant a time-out before subs have been acknowledged. Be firm but professional.
When the game is over, don’t wait around for applause. Go home where you’re really wanted. Leave the teams to themselves. Let wounds heal and emotions level out. Criticism of your performance has a habit of becoming less traumatic with a minimal passage of time.
LIVE BALL THORNS
Unless there’s an extreme noise level, one sharp whistle blast is almost always enough. Parakeet imitations should be saved for the weekend sing-a-long.
When calling a foul or violation, don’t overstate your case. “Five white, holding” is just great, but “No! Five white, you got him” is grandstanding. Too much verbalizing is as inadvisable during a live ball as during play stoppage. Get the out-of-bounds call correct. You can sometimes get away with a questionable foul decision, but the gym rains shrapnel when an out-of-bounds goes the wrong way. Be sure all lines are covered; trust your partner to cover his or her lines; above all, see the whole play, not just the exit of the ball. If you’re uncertain, look immediately for help. If you can’t get help, bite the bullet, wipe the egg from your face, and get on with the jump ball and alternating throw-in. Crisp and efficient movement is important during a live ball too. You have to move to maintain the best perspective on play action. Lethargic movement projects apathy. Avoid traffic, however, don’t get in the way. Always anticipate a possible turnover. Be prepared to “go the other way”, avoid interfering with the movement of players and/or the ball. Never use “non-signals”. These are signals which are not authorized among the approved officials at the end of the official rule book. “Clipping”, “head shaking”, “safe” signs, etc. are totally unacceptable. They amount to no more than weak attempts to justify a “no call”.
Finally, take care that you’re properly equipped, particularly with a good whistle. Few things are more embarrassing than making a great call with a whistle that sounds like air leaving a balloon. Always have an extra whistle and lanyard in your pocket in case of an emergency. The job is tough enough without you adding to it. Keep your cool; do your job, and always remember that the best officials avoid as many problems as they solve.