Queensland Referees Talk About What It’s Like To Train With The Best of the Best
In late July, two Queensland referees travelled down to participate in an exclusive NBL Camp for officials in Canberra. Madi Crowley-Long from Brisbane Basketball and Jordan Napper from the Sunshine Coast Basketball were some of the referees from across Australia who were selected to take part in this exclusive camp. Madi and Jordan shared their experience with us, and what it’s like to train with the best of the best.
What was it like attending the NBL Development Camp and refereeing at the Next Gen Games?
Jordan: Amazing. I’m so thankful for the opportunity. The people we had in the camp rooms teaching us about their experience and their knowledge for the game was second to none. I’ve personally taken so much information away and will be implementing it into how I referee, hoping to make it to that level one day.
Madi: The camp was a fantastic opportunity to connect with up-and-coming referees from around the country, as well as receive real-time feedback from Head of NBL Referees Scott Butler and full-time referee Michael Aylen. The games were short but enjoyable and a good chance to put into practice the information we received across the three days.
What was a typical day at the camp like?
Madi: Each day of the camp involved some time set aside to work through clips on a specific topic, including discussion around the clips, breakdown of different opinions and then a directive or teaching point.
Jordan: We woke up early and watched a lot of game tape, generally around calling of the game and how mechanics can affect your calling. We then went straight to the games which were 12 minute half’s with a 30 seconds gap in between the games. We had Scott and Michael sitting on the side line educating us on what to look for and how to improve our vision to benefit the game.
Madi: There were a few hours of watching tape, a few hours of on-court work officiating the Next Gen games and, on the Monday, we spent time with AFL umpire Jacob Mollison hearing about how he analyses a game. Stewart Briggs from Acceleration took us through a session as well, that focused around functional strength work, core stability, muscle triggering and self-care.
Jordan: Once done, we headed back to our accommodation, have some dinner and then do some more video review.
What was a highlight of the NBL camp?
Madi: The highlight of the NBL Development camp was having access to significant coaching and development. We could take on feedback and adjust on-the-go during the games and the difference was noticeable. The session with Stewart was also highly informative.
Jordan: A highlight would be when Jacob Mollison came in to talk to us about how they review games and what their in-game communication is like. It was an awesome experience and showed us a different level of self-evaluation which I will be using in my self-reflection.
How does refereeing at this higher level differ to that of the QBL?
Madi: The NBL referees are under a huge amount of scrutiny from not only those participating in the League but other key financial stakeholders, fans, media etc. This scrutiny means that any of us who are striving to achieve that level one day have to have an incredibly high level of mental and emotional resilience and fortitude.
Jordan: The biggest difference would be that every single player on a squad is there for a reason. In QBL, you can get a variety of teams and some are better than others, but in the NBL every team is equal. Similarly, in QBL, for some teams, their bench player are just people who are still learning or still think they can make it to a higher level, but the NBL has the best players in the country.
Any advice to referees hoping to take their skills to the next level?
Madi: Always be open to receiving feedback. Take the emotional attachment out of a call or a game and look at things not as mistakes but as areas you can work to improve on. And, strive to better yourself in every game – junior, local, senior and representative basketball games all have something to offer!
Jordan: Just keep at it. You can always improve and there will never be a perfect game. Take what advice you get, good or bad, and try to improve and better yourself.