Euroleague Basketball officials set to work on the upcoming 2020-21 season this weekend with their own virtual training camp, a comprehensive, four-day agenda of activities designed to offer the best game experience possible to both fans and participants of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and 7DAYS EuroCup.
The 29th Clinic for Euroleague Basketball Officials covered, through on-line meetings, discussions and seminars, everything that in-person preparation events for new seasons have included in the past – and more.
A total of 70 referees and 16 referee coaches attended the clinic, which lasted from mid-afternoon Thursday until Sunday night. Six new referees were welcomed to the Euroleague Basketball refereeing collective during the weekend. They are: Benjamin Barth, Gentian Cici, Huseyin Celik, Luka Kardum, Kristaps Konstantinovs and Stanislav Valeev.
"As always, the focus was clearly on enhancing the application of the rules and our understanding of them with the coaches and players in order to make our game better for fans," said Richard Stokes, Euroleague Basketball Senior Director, Officiating. "We missed being in the same place to reacquaint ourselves and introduce our new referees in person, but our work agenda was as full as ever to ensure that, even at a distance, we have all angles covered for the new season."
Among the special guests was Ioannis Sfairopoulos of Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv, who gave the referees the all-important perspective of head coaches on Euroleague Basketball officiating for the new season.
"It was nice to be able to share the view of officiating through the coaches' eyes," Coach Sfairopoulos said. "I believe that we have the best group of referees possible, just as we have the best players and coaches in Europe. For us to exchange views and ideas, and to work together to find the right way to work, will only help the development of officiating and the working relationship that is required. These meetings set a solid foundation for the season ahead."
A review of officiating statistics and feedback from the 2019-20 season gave way to a number of points of emphasis that the referees will be applying in the season ahead, focusing on the shift to the perimeter game, accuracy of play-calling and on-court communication. Interspersed in the agenda throughout the weekend were discussions of specific plays and scenarios, as well as instant replay protocols coming from the previous season. Sports sciences experts addressed the referees on the subjects of their physical preparation and nutrition. In addition, sports psychologist Mar Rovira spoke over two days about dealing with feedback and mental mapping in the dynamic setting of a live basketball game for both referees and referee coaches.
"We focused on learning strategies to deliver and receive powerful feedback, working with referee coaches one day and with the refereeing crew the next," Rovira said. "The other big content we worked on was dealing with pressure and giving strategies to stay focused during the game. It is remarkable the importance that the officiating department is giving to the referees' mental preparation. Working on their mental side will definitely help increase the level of the game."
As every year, the clinic ultimately served to propel the continual learning among referees that contributes fundamentally to the constant improvement of the basketball experience for fans of Euroleague Basketball competitions.
"We had a very productive few days to get ready for next season," veteran referee Olegs Latisevs said. "The level of communication and the interaction between the participants during the clinic was on a highly professional level, and this was a key to the success and value of our work. Mar Rovira's sessions were amazing, giving us the theory behind what we had been doing intuitively before. Now we know that we are working on the right track about communication and education. Learning about the coaches' expectations concerning the referees, gave us a very good perspective with which to understand each other and communicate in the future. Now, we hope to get on the court as soon as possible to return to the job we love."