We chatted with our three Queensland referees; Michael Coccetti, Jacqui Dover and Jordan Napper who attended the Under 20 Nationals, held in Gosford in early February. As selections are based on performance, we wanted to find out what’s involved to referee at a national level. We asked our Queensland refs a few questions about their preparation, their experience at the U20 Nationals and their advice for other referees who want to referee at a national level.
Michael Coccetti – What was involved in preparing for Nationals? What’s expected from a national level referee and what did you get out of the experience?
Preparation prior to U20 Nationals is quite short given the lack of basketball around the Christmas period. Once I found out I was selected, I refereed as many club and representative games as I could, most of which came during the weekend before the tournament at the Under 16 and Under 18 State Championships and GBL.
Prior to the tournament, we arrived in Gosford and spent a day at a referee conference where they discuss directives and expectations for how we will referee at the tournament. The morning session is a three-hour theory session, which ranges from reviewing FIBA guidelines to assessing game tape. The three-hour afternoon session starts with the FIBA beep test, which has a 10-minute pass mark. A further few hours is then spent discussing expectations of our refereeing positions and signals to ensure we are all on the same page.
Later that day (about 2 hours after the sessions concluded), most of the officials started their first games of the tournament. The expectation is that once you’re on court you will implement everything learnt in the seven hours of camp, some things are easy to adopt, others require more discipline and focus to change.
Having not been to a Nationals for a few years there were quite a few small things that I had to change. In addition, a lot of focus at Nationals relates to referee positioning and signals which requires a lot of attention to detail and concentration whilst also focusing on calling the game.
I made a lot of notes during the conference and education during the tournament to try and implement as I went. Now that the tournament is over, I will take this education and feedback into the QBL season and share it with others who are attending National tournaments this year.
Jacqui Dover – How many games did you referee per day? What did you learn you’re your experience and would you do anything differently? What’s the difference in refereeing at Nationals in comparison to other tournaments or State Champs?
Across the duration of the U20 Nationals, each official refereed 1 – 2 games per day (approx. 9 games in total). The games varied between men and women’s matches, as well as each appointment to allow everyone to have a chance of leading games. This allowed us to improve all aspects of our game by using the feedback from the post-game discussions with our crew and instructor and work on weaknesses in the next game.
The experience and information received throughout the week was invaluable. Being exposed to a high level of knowledge from a group of referee instructors throughout the week was a huge benefit compared to other tournaments where the group of instructors is much smaller and has fewer years’ experience. Each day we received clips of interest and trends to be aware of and improve on as a group, which was a change compared to previous nationals where a meeting was held each night after the last game.
U20 Nationals was also quite different to other tournaments in terms of the expectations of our referee group. As a lot of the information was new to the group, we were asked at the start of the tournament to have open minds and work to improve our performance each game. To change and adjust the way in which you officiate each game was at times a challenge. However, going into each game ready to make the adjustments from previous game’s weaknesses was a rewarding challenge when I felt the change in my performance. Especially when I felt more comfortable in the finals and could focus on the plays instead of mechanics and overworking to be in the right position.
Jordan Napper – What have you done in the last 12 months to be selected to attend U20’s? What’s involved with the selection process and what would you recommend to other referees who are wanting to referee at a higher level?
The work starts with selection for State Championships, working through the program until attending the Under 18 State Championships. Once at the Under 18 State Champs, it then involves performing well; which means following the directives of the Referee Coaches and Educators at these tournaments. At the end of the tournament, the Commissioner writes a review which will then be sent to Basketball Queensland. This forms a key component of Queensland Basketball League (QBL) panel selection. It is important to impress these referee coaches by what you do both on and off the court by being professional.
For the last 12 months, I’ve been refereeing in the QBL and performing to my best standard, showing that they should select me for the upcoming Nationals Championships. Once invited, I started my preparation – this included fitness training, rule knowledge and communicating with fellow officials who have attended the previous National Championships.
For those looking to referee at a higher level, I would recommend you start by going to the State Championships, making friends and continuing to attend these Championships, hopefully at a higher level each year. My greatest advice would be to learn and improve every day so that your game gets better and better with every match you referee.