WNBL referee David Baddock on his life as an elite referee

WBA media met with decorated referee David Baddock. David has been refereeing the WNBL for over five years and we sat for a short chat with him to learn about refereeing and his life around it.

Excerpts from WBA media’s Interview with Mr. Baddock.


WBA Media: How is your experience been refereeing the WNBL games?

Baddock: The WNBL is a world-class league which has evolved a lot over the years I've been a part of it—both from an athlete perspective, but also from an officiating one. To be able to have the opportunity to officiate some of the best players in the world, not just in Australia, is one I'm very thankful for and don't take for granted.


WBA Media: What is the difference in refereeing WNBL game as compared to BIG V or any other “lower” league game?

Baddock: On the court, the biggest differences are the pace of the game, the experience and knowledge of the players and coaches, and finally the room for error that you have in your judgement. Beyond game days there is a substantial difference between the amount of work that's required off the court as you move from league-to-league. You must always be improving, whether it's additional work on your physical and mental preparation, reviewing your own performances or maintaining your knowledge across the league by watching game footage. The work always increases as you progress up through the different leagues.


WBA Media: You have been a WNBL referee for around 3 years now, what changes have you seen in the league?

Baddock: Since coming into the league in 2012, the league has constantly evolved. Generally speaking, the professionalism of the league has increased substantially. The league has also gone through a tough period in losing their TV rights deal with the ABC and subsequently recommencing this season with Fox Sports. The return of some great players to the league this season has it in great shape for the future and hopefully I can continue to be a part of it.


WBA Media: Tell us your time with WBA and how has it helped you reach where you are?

Baddock: Officiating in your local competition is critical to give you the building blocks to become an elite official. Core competencies such as rule knowledge, mechanics, game control, presentation and effective communication get built within the walls of your local competition. Once you have these fundamentals down, your evolution as an official comes from your exposure to better and more highly-skilled, competitive games.


WBA Media: How has your journey been to the top? Any tips or guidance for younger referees who are trying to making it to the top?

Baddock: Istarted refereeing when I was 13 and am 32 now, so it's fair to say it's been a long one. One piece of advice would be to always be willing to learn and adapt. The game changes frequently and we are just servants of it, so if someone with experience offers you some advice, be prepared to listen and take that advice on board. Additionally, get out of your comfort zone as often as you can. Whether that's travelling to a venue to watch a game in the league above which you currently officiate so you can learn something new; reaching out to an official you look up to getting some advice; or going for a run on the weekend so you improve your fitness for the next season you're heading in to. 


WBA Media: We all know that referees aren’t supposed to be influenced by the crowd, players etc. but every so often we see at junior level that the referees are given a “hard time”. How do you handle that?

Baddock: It's important to understand that it's much easier to block out the "noise" during a game with 2,000 people compared to a domestic competition game where there might be 20. Every situation is different. Luckily during domestic games, you are supported by people at your venue to help manage critically difficult situations such as spectators who become abusive and threatening. It's happened to all of us. If it's a coach and they end up getting the better of you during a game, don't stress. Reflect on it afterwards, maybe get some advice from a senior official and learn from both the situation and how you responded. Always use these situations as learning opportunities. You're bound to experience something similar in future and it's important you grow.


It was a great to hear from David who is not only an experienced referee but also a role model for all aspiring referees. WBA media would like to congratulate David for his achievements and wish him luck for his future endeavours. Special thanks to Michelle Couling Photography for providing us with David's image. 


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