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Author Topic: NSO Skills  (Read 7646 times)

Offline Auntie Bellum

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NSO Skills
« on: March 17, 2010, 09:58:46 pm »
My team has the happy problem of having all the Refs they need.  I admire them, but since there is not a need I am happy to not have the pressure to get my skating speed and rules recall up quickly.

This mean I get to do what I want and focus on being a great NSO for at least this season.  So what makes an NSO easy to work with and someone you want to keep bringing back?  I am looking for both the technical stuff and the personal stuff.

Offline The Gorram Reaver

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Re: NSO Skills
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2010, 04:59:21 am »
My biggest & best advice:  always remember that as an NSO you are not there to watch roller derby, you are there to watch roller derby referees.  Even if you're doing a job where your direct interaction with referees is intermitent (such as scorekeeping or outside whiteboard), you will be much better at that job if you are constantly watching the referee(s) you are working with & anticipating their need to give you information.  As an example, when I'm outside pack reffing I consider an outside whiteboard operator who is doing an exceptional job to be someone who saw me calling/signaling a penalty to a skater a quarter lap ago & already has their board ready to write on, and all their waiting for is making sure they get the correct color, number, and penalty from me.  Similarly, I would consider someone on the outside whiteboard who never looks at me or has their board ready to write on until I'm skating up and calling information to them because they are busy watching the action on the track or talking to friends who are sitting/standing near their station to be doing an inadequate job.

Don't be afraid to ask questions.  Find out what the established practices of your ref crew are.  Ask if there are ways to help improve systems.  Offer to assist with printing forms or managing the NSO's equipment if your crew doesn't already have those tasks assigned.  Anything you can do to help your refs be ready for the bout by giving them one less thing to worry about will be greatly appreciated.  Especially since you have the goal of working to officiating on skates, anything you do now to establish a good rapport with those who are already on skates, and to make it clear that you are interested in being a part of an efficitive officiating crew, will help you make the trasition to officiating on skates smoothly & easily.

Also, don't wait too long to be ready to officiate on skates.  Injuries do happen, and I'm sure the present skating officials of your league would be happy to know there is someone available to fill any spots that might open up in the crew unepectedly.  Happy was the day here in Madison when we realized that even though Eddie Lizzard's leg had just been broken in the middle of a bout, our fresh meat at the time was up to the task of working on skates, and we still had a functioning crew of seven.  So keep working on your skating skills, but don't close the door on being needed this season - things happen.
The Gorram Reaver
Mad Rollin' Dolls, Madison, WI

Offline Pat-E-Rat

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Re: NSO Skills
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2010, 02:37:00 pm »
The fact that you seem enthusiastic and positive about the position is already a great start.  I've heard so much ref a$$ kissing it makes me sick sometimes.  What we do is crucial, fact.  But to be honest, it would not matter if we didn't have reliable and keen NSOs.  Reaver is right with the be ready to skate advice, but at the same time the fact that you work well and so much with refs is a definite good start.
Communication and awareness are key.  In retrospect I wish I'd NSO-ed more before reffing, but c'est la vie.  Our work wouldn't be documented, recorded, or worthwhile without solid NSOs.  That is a lesson you should take with you into the stripes.  Communication is key.  Knowing hand signals is key.  Awareness and good hearing are also key.  The work of an NSO is no easy task when done well.  If I knew the lines I'd hook you up with Matt Decapitator, he's one of the best I've seen in action...
Pat-E-Rat
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River City Rollergirls
Richmond, VA

Offline Auntie Bellum

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Re: NSO Skills
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2010, 03:54:23 pm »
Don't be afraid to ask questions.  Find out what the established practices of your ref crew are. 

I got to do this last season when I was new, I really like working with our crew.  The thing is that we have sort of an unofficial policy of pairing the most experienced NSO with the visiting Ref unless they bring their own.  Also I sometimes get to work away games. Florida seems to share ref staff and sheets a lot so things are usually pretty comfortable but I want to be ready to work with new people.  The thing that I have found the hardest is how much the call, acknowledgement, verification cycle varies between teams.

Ask if there are ways to help improve systems.  Offer to assist with printing forms or managing the NSO's equipment if your crew doesn't already have those tasks assigned. 

Yep, that is admirably handled by our head NSO who is not me.  I suppose I should make it clear that I am available to help.

Also, don't wait too long to be ready to officiate on skates.  Injuries do happen, and I'm sure the present skating officials of your league would be happy to know there is someone available to fill any spots that might open up in the crew unepectedly.  Happy was the day here in Madison when we realized that even though Eddie Lizzard's leg had just been broken in the middle of a bout, our fresh meat at the time was up to the task of working on skates, and we still had a functioning crew of seven.  So keep working on your skating skills, but don't close the door on being needed this season - things happen.

*nod* I am working on learning to make calls during practice since I skate with the other girls but don't bout.  Sitting around during bouting is boring so I have started working on things like seeing the pack one practice, looking just for track cutting the next etc, I am not in a hurry to make the calls but looking for them is a good referance point.

The fact that you seem enthusiastic and positive about the position is already a great start. 

Thanks!

I
Communication and awareness are key.  In retrospect I wish I'd NSO-ed more before reffing, but c'est la vie.  Our work wouldn't be documented, recorded, or worthwhile without solid NSOs.  That is a lesson you should take with you into the stripes.  Communication is key.  Knowing hand signals is key.  Awareness and good hearing are also key.  The work of an NSO is no easy task when done well.  If I knew the lines I'd hook you up with Matt Decapitator, he's one of the best I've seen in action...

That would be awesome if you ever happen across the contacts.  Can you give me some examples of stuff that made him stand out to you? 

Offline Pat-E-Rat

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Re: NSO Skills
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2010, 04:06:04 pm »
Quote
That would be awesome if you ever happen across the contacts.  Can you give me some examples of stuff that made him stand out to you?  

I can't say with 100% certainty his specific role each bout I've worked with him but I can tell you he runs all over the miniscule area NSOs have yelling, questioning, and coordinating in a way that is no distraction and completely complimentary to the refs.  Very seldomly have I had to relay a penalty that he hasn't already had documented to the best of his ability.  His awareness is his strong point along with his complete immersion in the nuances of the bout at hand.  He coordinates every penalty after every jam with every tracker and I think that is what keeps everything running smoothly.  Clearly I can't speak enough on the guys' behalf.
Pat-E-Rat
Head Ref
River City Rollergirls
Richmond, VA

Offline Bishop

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Re: NSO Skills
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2010, 04:23:16 pm »
Quote
That would be awesome if you ever happen across the contacts.  Can you give me some examples of stuff that made him stand out to you?

I picked Matt Decapitator's brain last year for a few tips.  One thing I remember is that he would take ownership of players in the penalty box.  If he saw someone in the penalty box and don't know why they were there, he'd find out why - usually between jams.  I aslo recall that he was up-front about his ability to keep up with the penalties.  If he couldn't keep up, he'd say something or ask for a clarification.  I don't think he's had to request a timeout in the situations I've seen him in, but most Head Referees I know are fine with a NSO requesting a time out.  I think the general thinking is that it's better to sort those issues out sooner rather than later.
Recommended Resources:WFTDA Rules Central, WFTDA officiating & Successful Sports Officiating
Propose rule changes at timeout.wftda.com.

Offline Pat-E-Rat

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Re: NSO Skills
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2010, 04:32:20 pm »
All of that is very true.  I can also say he will, while a JR is skating by, make them aware of "ghost points" for NOTT skaters.  It was a little distracting at the first, but knowing he does it makes it very helpful even though I'm always aware...gotta be.
Pat-E-Rat
Head Ref
River City Rollergirls
Richmond, VA

Offline noidd

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Re: NSO Skills
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2010, 10:04:28 pm »
My team has the happy problem of having all the Refs they need.

I know someone has said this already but we went from 14 refs down to 4 which turn up regularly in the space of a month and a half.

Believe it or not, no drama... just people getting busy.

It happens.
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Referees are not here to legislate, dictate, pontificate or participate.  We are there only to facilitate.

Offline DayGlo Divine

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Re: NSO Skills
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2010, 12:00:58 am »
All of that is very true.  I can also say he will, while a JR is skating by, make them aware of "ghost points" for NOTT skaters.  It was a little distracting at the first, but knowing he does it makes it very helpful even though I'm always aware...gotta be.

Matt's awesome as a scorekeeper because he knows the difference between providing necessary information and not trusting jammer refs to count. I've done scorekeeping a few times at invitationals and such, and his example is the one I follow.
WFTDA Certified Referee (Level 2)
Charm City Roller Girls
Opinions expressed here are mine. Not WFTDA's, not Charm City's, and not those of Zebra Huddle as a whole.

Offline SeerSin

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Re: NSO Skills
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2010, 01:41:34 am »
Knowledge :
Know the hand signals(very helpful).
Brevity - if you have to confer with refs keep it concise, it helps to keep the bout moving.
Awareness - know where the refs are, where the skaters are, who's in the box, who called what(you won't be able to see everything), etc.
Project your voice - practice shouting above the crowd and the music.

When penalty tracking watch for intentional 4th minors, check to make sure it is in fact her fourth and advise the referees accordingly.
Remember to report the jammer's minor penalties to each jam ref before each jam.
Use the same communication standards - "Red 12 has four!" or "Red 12 Out!"
Check before the bout to see if there are any easily confused numbers, such as a #10 on both teams. Make sure you record the penalty under the proper skater.

When scorekeeping keep your eyes on your jammer ref.
Check the scoreboard between every jam to make sure it's correct. If it isn't get the head ref, or if you're sitting near the scoreboard operator confer with him/her to make the correction.
Check the penalty box before each scoring pass, just as the jam ref does, so you can record the ghost points.

Personal :
Attitude - NSOs should have a good attitude, same as the refs. Work well with others, etc.
Remain Calm - Just about any error can be fixed as long as we all remain calm. Franticness also leads to more errors.
Don't cheer for one team or another, you may not be wearing stripes but you're still an official and in a position of authority in the bout.
Don't let an error go because you don't want to bother the head ref - speak up and get it fixed between jams.

After these technical and personal items comes experience.
Hope this helps.


Auntie Maim

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Re: NSO Skills
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2010, 03:38:53 am »
I just started as a ref-in-training/NSO with my league in November, and honestly, I love the NSO work! The suggestions you've gotten are all spot on. I ask for feedback both at the half and after the bouts for what was helpful/distracting from the refs I work with and thus far have gotten really great responses and suggestions.

If you're penalty tracking, remember the refs aren't yelling AT you, they're yelling TO you (unless you're really, really not paying attention....). Write BIG and FAT on the OWB, and if you have a chance, look at that position from the penalty tracker's perspective. It'll give some insight as to what s/he sees. Check the OWB every lap or as frequently as possible. Stick a few small post-its on your penalty tracking sheet so if you miss some aspect of a call, you can write what you've got and follow up at the end of the jam. Know your hand signals!!! And make eye contact with the refs. You'll be able to recognize if they've got a call pretty quickly.

I wholeheartedly agree with the statement "You're not there to watch the game." If you can, great, but ideally, watching your refs and being focused really keeps the game moving more efficiently. And cheering for either team is a big no-no. You're supposed to be just as impartial as the zebras.

Most importantly, though, remember to breathe and enjoy what seems to be chaos. There's a rhythm to doing this work and you find a sweet spot. Have fun!

Offline Auntie Bellum

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Re: NSO Skills
« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2010, 12:22:22 pm »
Stick a few small post-its on your penalty tracking sheet so if you miss some aspect of a call, you can write what you've got and follow up at the end of the jam.
Ohh that is a great tip!!

Offline Gravity Kills

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Re: NSO Skills
« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2010, 11:32:49 pm »
My biggest addition to what's already been said is, don't be afraid to ask questions.  If something doesn't make sense, ask.  If you have a ref just yell 'out of bounds', ask if that was skating or blocking out of bounds.  If a jam ref gives 12 points on a jammer who only made 2 scoring passes, ask about it.  If you get 2 refs calling the same penalty on the same skater at roughly the same time, ask if it's the same penalty or two different ones.  If you don't understand something on the form, ask the head NSO or the other penalty tracker/scorekeeper if applicable. 

It's better to be clear on something than hold off on asking... in the heat of a bout, people forget things a lot faster.  If you have to wait with a question, ask immediately after the jam the conflict happened during.  Know the protocol for calling an official time out (if you can call one or if you need to tell the head ref to.)  Use it if you have to.  That's why we have them.  You want your information to be as accurate as possible.  It's only fair, to the players and to the refs who are relaying this information to you. 

If your league has regular scrimmages, attend them and practice your part.  They're valuable teaching tools for skaters, refs, AND NSOs.  If you're trying to learn how to be a penalty tracker, grab the 2-team sheet and track both teams' penalties... generally, in a scrimmage, penalties come in a little slower, so covering both will give you that rapid-fire bout-level experience.  Get yourself a handful of cheap stopwatches and take over the penalty box, if that's what you're trying to learn.  Again, ask questions.  This is the time to learn the finer points of the forms, the nitpicky bits of each position.

Read the rules.  Learn them.  Start with the ones most applicable to your job, then learn the rest... you'd be amazed how handy it is really knowing what's going on around you.  Learn the hand signs.  (Flashcards rock, btw.)  Ask your head ref and head NSOs if you don't understand something.  Listen in on ref huddles.  Be curious.

And, thank you!  It's always great to have an NSO who hasn't been press-ganged into it, and I'm sure your head NSO will be ecstatic to hear that you want to help.  :)  Welcome to the middle... it's crazy, but it's fun!

--Gravity Kills
Roc City Roller Derby

"Gravity is a harsh mistress."

Offline DayGlo Divine

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Re: NSO Skills
« Reply #13 on: May 30, 2010, 07:56:46 pm »
One thing to remember when staffing NSOs for a bout is that there is far more of a skill hierarchy than there is with reffing. While some people are better suited to some ref positions than others, they all require good skating skills and a solid command of rules and procedure. With NSO positions, some require little to no experience or practice, while others require a lot. It takes maybe 5-10 minutes to train someone to be an outside whiteboard operator or time blockers in the penalty box, and just about anyone should be able to handle those positions. Penalty box managing, wrangling, jam timing, scorekeeping, and inside whiteboard take more time and awareness of the game, and penalty tracking is especially difficult to master. Learning to be a good penalty tracker takes as much time, and is as hard, as learning to ref; not everyone can handle it.

What we typically do is put new NSOs or volunteer skaters in less demanding positions. It gives them a feel for the game without overwhelming them. As they prove they are ready for more responsibility, we'll graduate them to inside whiteboard or wrangler. (Our stats crew handles scorekeeping, and our penalty box managers have three seasons of experience, so those positions are generally set in stone.) They still have to work for it, and if someone isn't getting the job done, we'll put that person in a less demanding position again, but it seems to work out pretty well. We've worked our way up from two dedicated NSOs to a full crew, and from having to borrow other leagues' NSOs to being able to staff most bouts without help.

Another staffing practice I've seen at higher levels of play (especially tournaments), where people who typically ref may find themselves in NSO roles, is to put those people in "cognate" positions that match up to positions they usually perform in stripes. For instance, someone who typically OPRs will be put in as an outside whiteboard operator; jammer refs will be scorekeepers; IPRs will do wrangling or inside whiteboard. This works well because being experienced in a ref position means knowing what to look for as an NSO. As an outside whiteboard op, my eyes are glued to the OPRs, watching for hand signals and either a color/number signal or the actual action on the track. That way, I am already writing down the penalty as an OPR stops, instead of waiting for the call, and it gets into the infield more quickly. As a scorekeeper, in addition to watching my jammer ref like a hawk, I have my eye on the box for ghost points and on the front IPR for out-of-play signals; that way, if there are any discrepancies between the score I get and what it looked like the score *should* be, I can bring them to the jammer ref's attention between jams. And IPRing comes in VERY handy for wrangling, because again, I know what to look for and can relay infield calls as well as stuff from the whiteboards.
WFTDA Certified Referee (Level 2)
Charm City Roller Girls
Opinions expressed here are mine. Not WFTDA's, not Charm City's, and not those of Zebra Huddle as a whole.

 

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