Three Rules You Thought You Knew- Communication Edition - v3e30

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Communication Tips
Effective communication skills require a wide range of qualities. Although officials who are effective communicators tend to be more successful, following these communication tips will help every official become a more effective communicator.

  • Make an effort to answer all reasonable questions briefly and accurately. A team or player who does not understand a rule or interpretation will only become frustrated when the official refuses to answer a legitimate question.
  • Avoid undermining other officials. Keep in mind you are an officiating team. Criticizing your teammates will only put the team’s credibility in question. Remember, the chances are you will be scheduled to officiate together again.
  • Be as specific as possible when verbalizing. The more specific you are, the more easily the situation will be understood. Being specific will also minimize the misinterpretation of your statements.
  • Avoid threatening players and coaches.
  • Avoid the “high-and-mighty syndrome” where you are always right and they have no right to question your calls. This will only frustrate the players and make your job more difficult.
  • Avoid discussions on judgment. Limit your communication to issues regarding the rules or their interpretation. Your judgment is not fair game for questioning and officials who discuss their judgment generally end up in difficult situations.

An article in the Referee magazine suggests some keys to communicating with players, coaches, and spectators at any level:

Have Your Head On Right - Don't think your striped shirt grants you immunity from having to take a little criticism. It's part of officiating. Plan on it. Successful officials know how much to take.

Don't Be A Tough Person - If a coach is on your back but not enough to warrant a penalty, then just warn the coach in a nice but firm way. This is especially true during time-outs. Standing near an unhappy coach just to "Show him up" will only lead to further tensions.

Don't Bark - If you don't like to be shouted at, don't shout at someone else. Be firm with a normal relaxed voice. This technique will do wonders in helping you reduce the pressure. Shouting indicates a loss of control, not only of one's self, but also for the game.

Show Confidence - Cockiness has absolutely has no place in officiating. You want to exude confidence. Your presence should command respect from the participants. As in any walk of life, appearance, manner, and voice determine how you are accepted. Try to present the proper image.

Forget The Fans - As a group, fans usually exhibit highly emotional partnership and delight in antagonizing the officials. Accepting this fact will help you ignore the fans, unless they interrupt the game or stand in the way of doing your job.

Answer Reasonable Questions - Treat coaches and players in a courteous way. If they ask you a question reasonably, answer them in a polite way. If they get in your ear by saying "Hey ref, I want to ask you something" then ask them to call a time out because you are concentrating on the game.

Choose Your Words Wisely - Don't obviously threaten a coach or player. This will only put them on the defense. More importantly, you will have placed yourself on the spot. If you feel a situation is serious enough to warrant a threat, then it is serious enough to penalize, without invoking a threat. Obviously some things you say will be a form of threat, but using the proper words can make it subtle.

Stay Cool - Your purpose is to establish a calm environment for the game. Nervous or edgy officials are easily spotted by fans, coaches and players. Avidly chewing gum, pacing around or displaying a wide range of emotions prior to or during a game will serve to make you seem vulnerable to the pressure.

Communication consists of sending and receiving messages, both verbally and nonverbally. Officials primarily communicate nonverbally and therefore must learn how to more effectively send these types of messages. We have to seek out feedback and reflect on our own style of communication to identify areas in which we are weak. We must also determine whether we are communicating effectively with others involved in the game.

Players commit fouls, not felonies - treat them as such.

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