As the season begins to wind down, many NISOA members will be receiving assignments to work conference championships, NCAA and NAIA post season playoff rounds, NCCAA championships, and Junior College regional, district and national championships. With that in mind it is appropriate to spend some time thinking about being prepared for the playoff season.
Prior to accepting any post season assignment the official must perform a self evaluation. This, at a minimum, should include the following:
Am I physically ready for the level of play? The season takes a toll on everyone. The official must be realistic and recognize if he/she is not 100% physically ready, the game or tournament assignment should not be accepted.
Can I take the time off from family and work and focus on the game or tournament assignment? Many post season assignments require additional travel and/or extended days away from home and work. The official must take this into consideration before accepting any assignment. If there is going to be problems with family or work related matters, the official will not be able to focus on the assignment .This could create problems during the game.
Do not over extend. Almost without exception officials want to accept every post season assignment possible. It is a mistake to accept a tournament that lasts for several days and ends on Saturday and then accept a critical post season playoff game for that Sunday. Working that many games in one week and travel could result in fatigue and the inability to officiate the game in a manner that will bring about a positive result for all players.
Once a game is accepted there are several tips that can help with overall performance. The following is not meant to be an all inclusive list but ideas that could be of assistance:
Stay on a regular schedule. This includes time of meals, food choices and sleep patterns. Also, physical training should remain at the same time and the same routine. Also, this is not the time for over-training.
Several days before the assignment the official should start thinking about how he/she will perform. This includes visualizing the venue, reactions to particular situations, making the hard call, etc. This should be done in increments so that the official does not go on information overload.
The official must be prepared mentally and physically. There should be no surprises or situations during the game that will have an adverse impact on performance. An official should know his/her physical limits. Trying to impress by making major changes to fitness and running all over the field will result in fatigue and not being in a normal position to make a proper call.
Stress will impact performance. Officials should do everything to avoid negative situations that will create stress. Officials should stay alert, positive and focused before the game. If this does not occur the official could become emotionally spent and not have the ability to deal with situations during the game.
Officials should be proud of any assignment that is received. One official does not have to work every post season game. There are many excellent NISOA officials who are more than willing and desire to accept a post season assignment. Accept the game(s) that can be officiated without overextending and recognize the limitations of family, work, scheduling and recovery time after the game. By following these few tips every official working a post season or tournament assignment should have a positive experience..