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Communication for Officials:

Techniques for resolving conflict and effective responses to coaches

The first moment of conflict when a referee must use communication to resolve issues during games may result from different points of view, or about rules interpretation, or about player conduct in the game.

Before these issues arise, refs can already be prepared to
-Resolve potential conflict before it occurs-
1) Appear Approachable, Be Neat in appearance
2) Anticipation - Prepare to be aware
3) Prepare some explanations to Common Complaints

When speaking with Coaches and other Refs, know how to
-Share Information-
With coaches it is best to use Diplomacy,
1) Listen, but do not influence, argue, or divert
2) Keep eye contact, appear patient and relaxed
3) Place fairness, an absence of bias, above all concerns

With referee partners its best to Empower Each other,
1) The other officials are your Teammates
2) Be aware of the entirety, but Focus on your Primary area
3) Trust your partner(s) and use eye contact

As the game progresses, observe the action, be accurate, and consistent:

- Can involve players with or without the ball
Accuracy- Distinguish Allowable contact from Illegal contact, regardless of circumstances
Consistency- Call the "obvious", Same call on same kind of play, whether 1st game-minute or tied in the last minute

This kind of ref philosophy and personal common sense leads to better communication; an ability to effectively:

-Express positive expectations for coaches/players actions-

For coaches, be understanding of possible situations like,
1) A differing point of view from the official
2) Questions about your partner
3) Loudness level of the voice asking the question
4) Frequency of comments
5) The coach has a good point or is right about...
6) Venting, Editorial comments, Inability to "let it go"
(see the section on responses to coaches below)

For players, prepare your abilities to handle situations like,
1) Taunting actions; usually taunting is a gradual process: intervene and stop it early with your voice - let players know "I am on the court and taking charge" of fair play
2) Overly rough play and Not game-related contact;
call violations early, set the tone, and let them know you are in control, "Watch the hands", "That's a foul", "Your being too rough."
3) Emotional attitudes come with the strong desire to win;  with strong signaling techniques, consistent refereeing of the defense, and calling the obvious will lead to a believability of all calls.  Remember Illegal contact puts the opposing team at a disadvantage

Use the philosophy of fairness, lack any bias, be a Judge
-Team Build-
1) Assure an equal opportunity for both teams & all players
2) Whistle the plays that "make a difference" -- be results oriented, weigh results of the play against action prior to...
3) acknowledge your own philosophy about perceptions: control over the game, getting it right, setting the tone, advantage & disadvantage, and common sense will all contribute to effective communication

What should Referees say in the following situations?

Coach sees the play differently:
"Coach, if that's what you saw, then I must have missed it.  I'll take a closer look next time."

"I understand what you're saying, however, on that play, I didn't see it that way.  I'll keep an eye for it on both ends."

"Coach, I had a good look at that play and here's what I saw... [explain situation]"

"Coach, I understand what your saying, but my angle was different than yours."

"Coach, I had a great look at that play, but I understand your question and I'll have the crew keep an eye on it."

"Coach, I had that play all the way and made the call."

"Coach, we are watching for that on both ends."

Coach questions a partner:
"That's a good call, as a crew we have to make that call."

"We're calling it on both ends."

"Coach, they were right and had a great angle."

"Coach, we're not going there, I can't let you criticize my teammate."

"Coach, they had a great look, but if you have a specific question, you'll have to ask them; they'll be over here in just a minute."

Coach raises their voice/ is gesturing:
"Coach, I'm going to talk with you and answer your question, but you must put your arms down/ stop the gesturing."

"Coach, please put your arms down.  Now, what's your question?"

"Coach, I can hear you/ I'm standing right here, you don't need to raise your voice."

"Coach, I need you to stop raising your voice and just ask your question calmly."

Coach comments on something every time you pass by:
"Coach, I need you to pick your spots, we can't have a comment on every single call that is being made."

Coach has a good point and may be right:
"You've got a good point and might be right about that play."

"You might be right, that's one we'll talk about at halftime/ intermission/ next time-out."

"You might be right; I may not have had the best angle on that play."

Coach is venting or making comments unrelated to plays:
"I hear what you're saying."

"I hear what you're saying, but we're moving on."

Coach won't let the question, comment, issue go:
"I've heard enough and that's your warning."