Getting the Most of An Assessment


I fondly remember lessons of life discussions with my Pop that often happened when the two of us were alone in a fishing boat or in a duck blind.  These discussions were mostly general in nature and ones where we would talk for hours.  However, often the discussion was short, pointed, and not a dialogue at all but rather a one sided “exchange of ideas” – where I was tasked to exchange his ideas for mine – when he felt that I had missed the mark.  These “exchanges” were most often viewed by me as not quite so friendly, and I frequently viewed them a conformational or undeserving as he served up life lessons from his own past experiences.  When he finished these types of discussions, he would often tell me to “put that in your pipe and smoke it”.  It has taken me many years to truly understand exactly what he was trying to tell me with this closing remark, this pointed suggestion.  His guidance simply meant, “Son, you need to take a little time and reflect on what I have told you”.

Throughout my referee career, there have been only a few times where I received the type of “guidance” from an assessor that I needed to “put into my pipe and smoke it”, said another way, a one sided discussion regarding my performance that I really needed to back away, take the information and ponder on it. It happens to all of us at some time in our referee career.

Assessments, I believe can be divided into three categories:

  1. Ones where I immediately felt that during the debrief that the information provided missed the mark.
  2. Ones were the information shared was solid feedback, but information that I already knew, or thought I did.
  3. Ones where the assessor and the entire crew jointly engaged in an open frank dialogue where there was a discussion that led to new techniques that we all could employ that would help further refine our refereeing career.

The question that all referees ask is why cannot all of my assessments be category 3?  There a multitude of reasons, but the one answer that should be predominant in our thinking is do I need to begin with a self-evaluation.  Evaluating not if the information is helpful, but evaluating if my own attitude or arrogance has created a wall or division that is not allowing me to engage in a discussion with an assessor.  This attitude may also take the form of dismissing the information or even shutting down when we feel that the feedback may be old news or even the attitude that the assessor was not up to the task himself as it relates to his ability to read the match.

NISOA Assessors are trained to try to draw you into a discussion so that the entire referee crew and the assessor can have an open frank dialogue, with the goal to guide the entire referee crew to honestly participate in self-evaluation.  However, this can open happen when the referee crew approaches the post-match discussion as a tool to grow and advance with each member of the crew truly desirous to “get better”.

As a referee you have a choice.  Will you do your part by asking questions, intently listening, and lastly be eager for the assessor interaction, or do you simply just want the bad man to go away?  Now is the time to “put this in your pipe and smoke it”, and ponder how your will approach your next NISOA assessment.