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Seeing yourself on videotape is the best way to improve, but few officials are doing it. 


Question #1: How many games did you work last season? 

Question #2: How many of those games did you review later on videotape? 


Now if youre a pro-level official the answer may be 100 percent, but more than likely its closer to 0-10 percent. 


The importance of videotape review can be broken down into two basic areas


-         It enables individuals to see themselves, to watch their own appearance, movement and especially positioning.  In a nutshell, you get to see what everyone else sees when they watch you work.

-         In enables an official to see and study plays visually as opposed to the tired and true methods off reading case plays or mentally visualizing game action.


Where do you get videotape footage?


  • Grab a buddy, grab a camera and go: Hand your camera to a friend and drag him to your game.  Have him shoot you while youre working.  That method may seem expensive and complicated but not as much as you might think.  Todays technology is extremely user friendly and the prices are going down every day. For younger officials it is the most effective way of seeing yourself work.


  • Get a game tape from the game site: That is a common method and a relatively easy one to accomplish.  Most schools are cooperative with sending an official a game tape if you provide a blank one and a self addressed stamped envelope.  You can also bring a VCR with an adapter to tap into the schools feed.  If the school shoots with a digital camera as most do now, you can ask for a copy later to download.  It is important to keep in mind that the quality of the tape may not be so great, it will be taken from one angle and focus on the game more than you.


  • Get it from your association: Does your association have any kind of budget for video training?  Maybe there is a sub committee made up of former AV guys from H.S. Your association may be one that actually attempts to videotape games worked by its members for training purposes.  Get your hands on any tape they have that shows you working.


  • Record if from T.V.: its certainly the easiest method, but unless youre working a high profile game that is going to be televised by a local network it could be harder than it sounds, but there is hope, more and more games are being televised these days, district championships, playoffs and state championships are all being televised.  For the most part many pro level officials still use the same mechanics as lower level officials; you can tape any pro or top college game and focus on the mechanics of your position.


  • Hire a professional- That is the best and easiest way to get it done, focus on you, focus on the play, good quality, great angles, and clean, edited version with narration.  It might not be as expensive as you think especially with some disposable income lying around.  You may even be able to get your association to help.



What should the camera focus on?


The camera should focus on the official and the play.  While videotaping is being done by a single person its easy to focus on the official and harder to capture the play. The opposite also stands true.  You have no control over what the focus is on when you are not doing your own shoots.  It helps to have fellow officials taping your games because they will understand the process, but you can get good usable results from any Joe all the same.



A Little Q and A.


Question: How do I get started? What should I buy and how much is it going to run me?


Answer: Everything from here on out should be DIGITAL.  VHS recorders will be extinct in a few short years.  If you already have Digital good for you, your on your way, if you have VHS, thats still ok you can use it if you want immediate reviews and no hassle.  Digital camcorders can run anywhere from $500 up to $3000.  Editing and such will require a more expensive model.  However simple review of your game is doable with a cheaper camcorder. You may also want to purchase a tripod which will eliminate the shakiness of the film.  You will need batteries, and blank tapes, all can be purchased with the camcorder.


Question: OK, I have my equipment and now its time to go out and work some games (to pay for my new toys), I have my cameraman and know what we need to tape, whats next?


Answer: Its pretty easy actually, most cameras today have automatic focus, color and exposure.  Digital and some VHS will have a zoom function that will provide a close up if need be.  Get your camera person high up in the stands, wide of any obstructions, with the ability to get good angles. If youre doing voice over narration, Stay Away From the Band.  If you need a field view try to get away from coaches and cheerleaders.  And to save battery space dont record during any downtime.


Question: OK, the equipment worked just fine, the game seemed to go well and now I have a videotape at home, now what?


Answer: VHS tapes simply are put in the VCR.  Digital is a bit trickier because most use a computer with some software to view the footage, however its fairly simple and a novice will be fine. 






Thanks to Rich Winograd- Thousand Oaks, Calif. For the article.  Published Referee Aug 2003.