Prepping For The Season

On behalf of the Judges Department, I was asked to write an article to kick off the upcoming competitive Baton season for USTA. Like so many of us, Baton may be your full time passion, but, in reality, we are also juggling other jobs to sustain our lifestyles. Mine happens to be teaching and coaching in a public school system. So when you read this article, you will see where my mindset has been and how I have managed to apply it to my lifelong PASSION, BATON!

If you’ve ever played competitive sports, and let’s face it, BATON IS COMPETITIVE AND A SPORT, you know starting a new season means a lot of hard work and practice. As hard as our athletes prepare and practice for the upcoming season, we too, must work diligently to do our best as well! It’s also normal to feel a little nervous about starting, especially if this is your first season. Here are a few ways to put yourself at ease and make sure you’re ready for the first competition:

  1. Getting your mind in shape. As with any sport, you must train to be at your optimal level. Start by writing in your own words the concept of each of our events…then, check your manual, or Knowledge Central on the USTA website to see how accurate you are with your perception. Update your judging notebook and if you don’t already have one, organize one! Make sure you include the latest scale. If you are a coach as well as a judge, keep an updated list of students, their age at which they compete and the events they compete in. This will help you immensely when you are sending a blackout list to the competition director you are judging for! Trust me, you will start off on the right foot, (left in our world!) with the person, or club hiring you. If the competition runs smoothly and you do your job with fairness and objectivity, you can bet you will be one they will consider to have back to judge in the future.
  2. Check your gear. Let’s face it, everybody loves a new uniform! … Be sure when you are updating your wardrobe, you pick up a “compliant” Black suit with a matching “compliant” white shirt and a pair of those infamous black closed toe shoes. Nothing screams Rookie more than being out of dress code! If you’re a Returning Player, take out all of your equipment, try it on, and make sure it still fits… AND for all levels of experience, DON’T FORGET TO PACK IT! Which reminds me of another great tip, if you flying for a weekend competition, PACK CARRY ON ONLY, SAVE your competition director a few bucks, and they will remember you the next season! …I was preaching to the choir here!
  3. Consider a sports camp. Sports camps in our world would be a workshop or webinar. If a workshop or webinar are not a realistic option for you, for whatever the reason, don’t let that stop you. Even doing some web searches of the role models, and competition performances in various events can help new and experienced judges brush up on their adjudicating skills before the season starts. Get out old videos, review the supplemental videos on Knowledge Central, YouTube and Vimeo performances. Prepare your paperwork and you be the judge! Whatever your results are, remember you must be able to justify your scores. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PERFORM, ANALYZE, AND REPEAT!
  4. Set realistic goals. Before your season starts, consider setting a few goals. If you are a Rookie judge, check the USTA website to find out about competition information. Contact competition directors and let them know of your judging status. Include the point that you would love to judge for them if the opportunity arises. Include contact info, your preferred airport and Date of Birth as this makes it one step closer for them to select you! If you are a Veteran Judge, make sure your credentials are up to date and consider challenging yourself to judge more state, regional or even international events. Whatever level, hone your skills to accomplish your goal. Make sure you are aware of any deadlines if a selection process is needed to be considered for the judging opportunity.
  5. Be sure to stay up to date with rule changes! You can find this year’s changes here: Important Information from USTA (9/2017).
  6. The members of the Judges Department are also available to address any questions you may have – please feel free to contact us.
    • Department Director: Kathy Butera
    • International Judges Representative: Dale White
    • Department Members: Krystal Mignone, Abby Moore, Amanda Guidroz, Alyse Gillman and Sheri Carter

Whatever you decide to do for your upcoming Baton season, whether it’s making the team or the playoffs, get in shape and always remember, USTA is proud to have you on their TEAM!

About Sheri Carter

Sheri Carter started her twirling career at the age of 4 under the direction of Gene and Mary Hooker. Throughout her competitive career, she won numerous state, regional and National titles in one, two, and three baton, as well as the team divisions. During her training years she had the privilege to train under an array of experts in our field, in addition to Gene and Mary, Fred Miller, Brooks Goings, Dale White, and Frances Whitley. She is a Cum Laude graduate from the University of Houston where she had the opportunity to be one of the four national champion feature twirlers....all of whom she cherishes as family to this day! She has served on the Texas State and Regional councils, and she has served on the National Board of Directors for 6 years -- both as a member and Board Secretary. She is a certified Coach and Master Level Judge, the latter of which has given her the privilege to judge at 8 World Championships. She is currently serving as a member of the Education Department of USTA. In addition to baton, she has taught and coached in the public school system for 31 years. Her overall 27-year career coaching record in high school volleyball is 391-149. She is also the Head Tennis coach at Stony Point High School in the Round Rock Independent School District.