In-The-Game Mentors
99% of in-the-game mentoring, where the Mentor is the Center Referee, and the Assistant Referees are new and/or relatively new referees, occurs outside of the game itself. We consider the 30 minute period before kickoff, the half time break and brief end of game conversations all to be part of that game. These are precious opportunities to be helpful...and we don't want to waste them.

However, in-the-game mentoring can be used when training a new center referee . In this situation, the teams provide their own clublinespersons, or, if the budget permits, Referee Coordinator can assign Assistant Referees who are independent and able to function without much attention. When training a new center referee, we have found it useful to utilize 3 scrimmage matches for each candidate. We have also worked with 2 new centers in each game, platooning them into the game with a Mentor in pre-arranged intervals.

* First Game : Mentor leads throughout most of first match, mentoree folllows. The goal is to develop a sense of proper positioning. Better position, Better decisions.
* Second Game : Mentor starts off match, and while sharing the Center Referee role with the Mentoree, always remains at the ready to take over a situation that the Mentoree might miss...on behalf of player safety or the severity of a foul/proper restart. The goal is still good positioning, but the shift to owning the match is very real as it now includes substitutions, starting match-restarts-ending the game.
* Third Game : Mentor follows for most of the match, always ready to jump in as described above.

Regardless of which Mentoring assignment one is on {as Center Ref training new Assistant Referees, or, training a new center Referee} all of the in-the-game mentoring responsibilities take place as normal in the 4 Golden Opportunities described below.

In-the-game mentors hit the fields with their feet moving, providing
customized training and leadership role modeling from start to finish.

Mentors help new referees become self-reliant by speeding up their learning process by showing them how and when to ask questions. Mentors are redefining the role of the center referee as a leader and educator, initiating these two roles in those important 30 minutes prior to kickoff.

Mentors help eliminate the enormous amount of non-productive standing around that occurs at the fields, optimizing the 4 Golden Opportunities to learn found in every game. In-the-game mentors are on duty from start to finish.

The 4 Golden Opportunities are:

1. 30 Minutes prior to kickoff: Responsible referees know that there are a lot of things to get done in those 30 minutes. With introductions of the officiating team in hand, talking while they move about, they take on field inspection, introductions to & a meeting with coaches, receipt of game card/player passes/game balls, player inspections, the referee pre-game conference (which we list as its own entity) coin toss, etc. The key here is to engage and appropriately involve the new referees every step of the way through these tasks. How better to understand why report time is 30 minutes prior to kick off than to lead them with deliberate movement through each task, every time they work together.

2. Pre-game conference: Most Center Referees will cover a handful of essential items in routine fashion, but mentors, aware of their newness to this, will ask them for any questions, will get them to talk/participate specifically to demonstrate how the pre-game conference belongs to them too. If time permits, and game concerns are covered, the mentor can take on other questions or concerns of the new referees that they think might occur in the game.

3. Half time: Rest and hydrate for sure, talk about key situations that came up in the first half.
They might not know what to bring up or how to bring it up; the mentor bridges this gap with an extremely powerful tool that we call Teaching Through the Compliment (covered in detail in its own section)

4. End of game: After most games, referees take off in many directions. This is handled differently by mentors, namely, they collect their officiating crew, briefly review any improvements or noticeable changes, especially using the technique, Teaching Through the Compliment, which is also covered in detail in our booklet, " It's Your Call."

From start to finish, mentors engage, support, communicate, lead, and teach. Sometimes non-verbal communication is just as effective (a familiar thumbs up or head nod can send performance approval with light year speed). In their games together, mentors see and experience the good, the bad, and the ugly of what new referees have to offer; they have first hand knowledge of the context behind this or that foul or misconduct. If done well, an in-the-game mentor will also introduce them to their first comprehensive experience of referee teamwork.

Mentors also help reduce the isolation that accompanies many new referees, a factor that mitigates against communication and the learning process.

Deciding what to say originates from what the Mentoree needs/wants to know and what the Mentor knows. The Art of being a Mentor lies in how to initiate or respond to the mentoree's needs...based on the Mentor 's level of competency in these areas, usually using as few words as possible. Too many words puts them to sleep.

Being new, they are not in the best position to know how they are doing. Mentors provide the positive reinforcement on things done well and corrective commentary on areas where improvement is needed.
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