First Shift Stories:
Your first few games are going to be a blur. You may feel uncertain, and your brain will want to hide because you are so new to the rules and the league. Here are some memroies from legendary Social Refs about their first shift:
“Hide Behind Hustle”
Jay and His First Flag Football Shift
“My first shift as a flag football ref fell on a chilly November night. Even though I'd seen the reffing uniform a million times watching sports, I now felt like a fraud actually putting on the uniform. When you wear stripes you immediately have a feeling of I should know the rules better than anyone, but that was not the case. The uniform screams “come ask me” about rules or reasoning behind my call. It would be great if I could respond with “thats a great question, I have no idea bud,” but that wouldnt fly.
Even with my office training, I felt a lack of rules knowledge and a fear of being stationary where it would be easier for players to approach me. So I hustled like no other.
I didnt know the rules well, so I decided to hide behind hustle.
You can’t get mad at a guy who is flying all over the place and sweating in 40 degree weather! The veteran ref I was working with said I was “over-hustling” and it felt like I burned about 50,000 calories. I sprinted to every spot, I ran to the middle of the field, I over-shared the down and I perfected the back pedal.
I wasnt going to give a player the opportunity to say “ohhh your a NEW ref.” I tried to give the impression that “this guy is constantly moving” and totally engaged and looked like I belonged.
Most new refs have those moments where they do everything right and ask “why am I getting yelled at?” I followed steps 1, 2 and 3 and everyone is angry at me. They start to wonder “do I benefit from not making that call going forward.” Some of the best advice I gave to other new refs working through that first scary shift is just telling someone “you did everything right, that player just had to get it out. You probably saved a dog from getting kicked .” Dont hide from doing the right thing going forward. If you need to hide, then try hiding behind your signals and your hustle.