Social interaction and bonding is the key to success!
After reading through the information put out by the USTA for the new certification requirements and introduction of "training workshops" I am cautiously optimistic that it might work but realistically unsure about effectiveness.
First of all, the "training workshops" are not required of officials but will be offered on a sectional basis--and we all know full well that officials don't attend much of anything if its not required. We are promised a fleet of instructors but the bottom line is that they may be instructing an empty room.
Surely the USTA can come up with a more well thought out plan to implement these new changes. Many of the instructional materials aren't even ready and some won't be available until 2017! What kind of effective business in America changes the entire certification process of their workforce and then not present a finished product to implement that change? None.
The online testing is a much welcome and needed change and should be effective but there's a lot more to officiating than just knowing a bunch of rules. We have to find ways to instruct our officials in anger management, handing disruptive people, learning how to work with other officials, communication, and simply learning how to implement the rules they know. That won't and can't be done on an internet testing program...
Theoretically the "training workshops" are a great idea--if and only if you can get people to attend them. Just having instructors ready and waiting isn't going to cut it--YOU HAVE TO HAVE PERSONALIZED CONTACT IN ORDER TO GET PERSONAL ATTENDANCE...
Here are some suggestions:
* Make sure there is a specific coordinator in every localized area of the state. Be sure to get someone who is committed to growing their area and all of their officials.
* Have the coordinator appoint a person who is specifically asked to grow the training workshops.
* Focus on "one on one" enlistment. When people feel wanted they will come. Call them, write them, encourage them, and let them know they are important to the officials family!
* Learn to use "social gatherings" to grow the group. Its much more than just announcing a "come and drink/eat party"--it involves personal involvement to encourage people to come, learn, and share.
* Use social media, texts, and emails to keep all officials well informed. Once we get officials certified we usually pitch them out there to learn on their own. Its time to be sure they know where to work, how to get hired, and what they need to do when they get to work.
* Use "officials teams" made up of two or more officials to meet together regularly and share their experiences together. This sharing teaches new officials more than any class ever could.
* Most of all--DEVELOP A SENSE OF FAMILY among your area's officials. Make them feel welcome, needed, and appreciated and then you'll see the training workshops grow and new officials begging to come and join us!
These are just a few thoughts about the upcoming changes. We would welcome your thoughts and comments...