You get on the island when you bring a lot of attention to yourself. There are only a few times when being on The Island is a good thing for you, and that is only when it is recognized by almost everyone that you're doing a great thing for the game. Examples:
1. Calling any non-basketball play as a foul.
2. Calling a bad screen, especially the first one of a game, and the earlier the better.
3. Calling a chuck or hold on a cutter, especially when it results in a turnover or prevents a likely basket.
4. Getting a goal tend or basket interference correctly.
5. Identifying and fixing a shot clock/game clock error.
6. Fixing a missed out-of-bounds or 2/3 point basket call.
Some of these are subjective, but being honest with yourself, you know when you've done these right. So does everyone else in the gym.
The list of ways to get on The Island that hurt you is endless. Most of the time, you miss an obvious call. You have to minimize those instances anyway. Learn from your mistakes. Here is a short list of things I see occur on a regular basis that puts officials on The Island:
1. Calling a violation that didn't happen or was not visible to most of the gym.
2. Several bodies on the ground with no whistle.
3. Making a ticky-tack call when others are allowing more contact.
4. Passing on a foul, and compensating by awarding an out-of-bounds to the team that got fouled.
5. Making an obscure call that doesn't get called often and you have to explain to offending player(s)/coach.
6. Calling right in front of a partner.
Lots of guys are great officials, and they are real tough guys with the coaches that yell at them a lot. Just ask them. They are also frequent residents of The Island.
We talk a lot about teamwork and being on the same page. That means we work together to keep each other off The Island. Some guys relish it: they either have an insatiable need for the attention it brings (even bad attention is good attention) or they feel that when partners get stuck on The Island, they personally benefit from it.
Newer guys, think about this, and learn to stay off the island. Unless you have a personal relationship with the players/coach, The Island is a bad place for you, and if you spend much time there, it may be impossible to really be seen as a great official. Memories of officials being on The Island last a long time with some coaches. Sometimes forever. Calls I made a few years ago that would have marooned me without water on The Island, I can now make with little consequence, because of the combination of knowing the context and my standing with the coaches and players. I know the time and place to make those calls--most of the time. And when I put myself on The Island, which I still do more than I like, I make sure I do not stay there for long. I focus and get those high certainty calls for the next several minutes instead of dwelling on past calls.
Veterans can use that first set to gauge whether they need to be there or not. I can tell you from experience, that sage use of that first set will make you a good R. You also need to counsel your team to do whatever you can to keep your partners off of The Island, because it makes it a lot easier on you.
Sometimes there is nothing you can do. But remembering this analogy may be helpful to you. We all talk about missed calls and pissed coaches, but some people have a knack for getting put in jail, and others have a knack for getting away with it. It all boils down to staying off The Island as an individual, and a crew.