Well first off – this is just my opinion but here are some of the basics that I try to follow as a high school football official:
Player safety – the one thing I consider THE most important. Always keep an eye out for player safety:
- Illegal blocks – chop blocks, block in the back, etc.
- Face masks/pulling of the helmet openings/or chin strap – with twisting of the helmet
- Unnecessary roughness – yeah it’s football – but an unnecessary hit to a player totally away from a play or a hit with intent to harm needs to be controlled
Slow down the game – make sure you see what you call. It’s better to get the call right than to rush it.
Position, position, position – coaches and fans hate when a call is made 30 yards away from a play; and you know what – so do good officials. Be in the correct position to make a call or to observe the play. This is easier said than done and takes practice and good field mechanics. KNOW WHERE YOU BELONG – AND BE THERE.
Communication – solid communication with your other officials is extremely important. This starts with a pre-game dialogue. Talk about key aspects of the game, kicking game – position duties during kickoff and scrimmage kicks, measurements,etc. just to name a few.
Whistle in Your Mouth? Do not officiate with a whistle in your mouth – chances are this is going to get you into trouble sooner or later by blowing an inadvertent whistle and if you do – own it, get over it, and learn from it. It happens at all levels!
Read and study the rules – just about every chance you get. It’s every official’s job to know the rules – not just the referee or umpire. Sooner or later when communicating a call with the other officials you may be asked for clarification. And sooner or later if you do this long enough your position is going to change – you may find yourself as the referee (white hat) one day. Know the rules and learn them. I will start covering some of the key rules in a future posting.
Lastly – have fun, an open mind, and always learn from what you did during the game. Keep a journal of what happened during each game, and set goals for yourself!