Florida Basketball Camp Experience

This past week, I had the privilege of working Billy Donovan’s Team and Individual Camp in Gainesville, FL for the 7th straight year. Usually when I work the team camp I am either monitoring a facility or keeping the score; this year due to an absence of officials, I was granted the honor of officiating games all weekend. You may be saying to yourself, that sounds like a pretty easy gig right? Wrong. My 2nd game was Arlington Country Day School vs. Orlando Christian Prep; anyone with familiarity of basketball in Florida knows how talented and intense both of these teams are. Needless to say, I had become an official fast.

Initially I went into the task thinking, “How hard could this be?…I know the rules”. I walked away with three very important viewpoints that I believe will help me in my coaching profession:

1. Officiating is much harder than it looks. Not only do you have to be on your toes the entire game and constantly looking for violations, fouls, unnecessary contact, etc., but you also have two coaches screaming at you about calls the majority of the game. Coach A wants a foul and Coach B complains if you call the foul; its a lose-lose situation. Additionally, you have to adapt to the style of play of both teams. One team may be more aggressive than the other and you need to call the game in a manner that it does not get out of control. For each call, I tried to say to myself, “If I was playing would I have wanted a foul called right there”?

2. It is hard to call a “fair” game while one coach is riding you the entire time. I always wondered if yelling at officials can persuade the way the game is called, the answer is “yes” (in both directions). If you have a very calm coach vs a coach who is very expressive and complains alot, it is very difficult not to just call in favor for the “nice guy” because you do not like the expressive coach’s attitude. While over the weekend I did my best to call an even game, I did find that other “veteran” officials who let coaches get to them seemed to swallow their whistles at times. What did I take away from this, treating officials with respect and talking to them as an adult will really help you in the long term in coaching.

3. Explaining a call rather than arguing a call with a coach really quiets the coach. Several times a coach ripped into me for missing what they thought was a foul. I learned that by explaining to the coach what I saw and apologizing that if there was a foul I missed it, that this really creates a larger amount of respect between the coach and the official. I did not enjoy calling a game with those officials who made a call and refused to explain it to the coach but would just called a Technical instead.

After officiating 17 games in about 2.5 days, it was time to rest up for the four day Individual Camp. I really enjoy this camp because it allows me the opportunity to teach kids from different parts of the state and the country the game of basketball the correct way. While there are some kids who attend who just are not basketball players, they are still very eager to learn. The camp is formatted in way that allows the kids to be instructed and take that instruction to the court in games and competitions.

One of the things I enjoy the most about this camp is there are a lot of the same coaches who come back every year and we have somewhat formed a “Billy Donovan Basketball Camp Fraternity”. Additionally, each year some new faces appear from different areas of the country with very diverse backgrounds. It is always great to meet new coaches whom you can share your knowledge with. If you ever get the chance to come down to work this camp I strongly encourage that you take advantage of the opportunity.

This year the camp was blessed to have one of the world’s greatest shooting instructors, Dave Hopla (aka The Shot Doctor). The kids absolutely loved this as he only missed about 13 shots during his hour long lecture. I took away some great teaching points from his lecture which I will post later this week.

Keep Bouncing…

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