Communication with Coaches - Black Hills Sports Officials Association

Communication with Coaches - Black Hills Sports Officials Association
Communication with Coaches
If you want to make the game better, there must be communication between coaches and
Do you have a plan ready when you are confronted by an angry coach during
a game?
Learn how to successfully communicate your point of view and take the
upper hand in any dispute.
Everything starts with your ability to communicate.
You cannot ever lose your temper.
• The idea of an official losing his or her temper is unthinkable.
2. Principles when dealing with coaches
Know what to say
Know when to say it
Know whom you can say it to
Learn how to deliver the message—practice what you are going to say to a coach
and how you are going to say it
Know when to speak or remain silent
Coaches want to know that you are working with them, not against them, and that you are
willing to listen
• You need to be approachable without being overly friendly
• You need to be confident without being arrogant
• You need to know when to step up and take charge and when to no-call and move on
When dealing with coaches, never get mad, shout or lose your cool
• Officials who warn and threaten are the ones who lose control
• You will have a problem if you walk onto the field/court as a dictator
• Shouting indicates a loss of control—of both yourself and the game
1. There is never a valid excuse for losing your cool, regardless of what is
happening in the game
Don’t know how to respond to a Coach?
• Don’t say anything.
• Silence cannot come back to haunt you
• Silence cannot be quoted
Patent reactions that antagonize
• “That’s the rule.”
o Hiding behind a formal definition just throws up a smoke screen.
o If judgment is based on a rule interpretation, the way to explain it is to use
“game” language and condense the concept in a one or two sentence
“Clam Down.”
o That phrase works just the opposite. It infuriates.
o Try saying, “What’s the problem”
“One More Word and You Are Gone”
o Is a statement that challenges the coach
After listening to a coach—report back to the coach
• “Here’s what I heard you say”
o Works better than outright denial of the coaches position
o This assures that a coaches point of view has been heard and addressed
• “Let’s be sure I heard you right”
Good officials can program themselves to shuck verbal slings.
• Catchphrases that officials can use to let a coach know they may have a legitimate
point of view, even if the coach does not have one
o I appreciate that
o I see your point
o You’re entitled to that view
o I hear you
o That may well be
o I understand that
o It was a good no-call coach, but I understand your frustration and I will keep
an eye out for that type of contact
Don’t say the first thing that comes to your mind
• You have to train yourself to say the opposite of what you may feel when under
attack by a coach
• It is not acceptable for the official to fight back
• The game isn’t being played for one-upmanship on the officials part
• As an official you have to subdue your natural impulses
DO NOT use any of the following snappy comebacks as there is NO comeback that will
do you a service.
o Stop your whining
o I’m not taking any more of you guff
o Shut up and coach your kids
o Get off my back
o Why don’t you let me officiate the game
o Do you want to be thrown out of the game
o You’ll be in trouble if
Other things an official should not say to a coach
• Shut Up
• I know how you feel
• I’m not going to say this again
• I don’t want to hear another word
Before the game
• Be friendly yet businesslike when dealing with coaches
• Answer legitimate questions and respond to concerns
o Do not dodge questions—the longer you ignore questions, the longer they last
• Keep pregame conversations professional and brief
• Conversations are not opportunities to conduct rules clinics
o Do not be overly friendly, particularly if you know one coach but have never
encountered the other coach
During the game
• If a coach questions a play, try this response: “Coach here’s what I saw . . .”
• Acknowledge that a play might have actually happened the way the coach described
it and you might have missed it
Tired of listening to a coach? TRY-• “Coach, I have heard enough”
o Use the hand in the form of a stop sign
o Avoid Threats-- Whenever you threaten a coach or player, you’ve backed that
person into a corner
• “I hear you”
• “I will look”
o Be pleasant in those situations
o Do not put coaches on the defensive or attempt to intimidate them
• “Coach we are not working a perfect game—but coach we are not missing something
on every play.”
Not Every Statement or Question Merits A Response
o Question is made in a respectful manner, listen to the coach and then respond if
o Before responding, ask yourself if responding to the coach will do more harm than
• You have to recognize when a remark is aimed at you and when it aimed at
motivating a team
Coaches will react positively if they believe you are willing to listen to them
• “I’ll watch for that” will often work wonders
• Kill them with kindness and politeness
o Please and thank you
Admit Your Mistakes
o A good official will admit that mistakes occur
o Try to minimize the mistakes and hope they don’t make a difference in the game
o Common complaint from coaches is that officials won’t admit when a mistake is
o By admitting some of them, we make ourselves more human, more real and easier to
relate to
o Communication breakdowns between coaches and officials often originate from a
basic misunderstanding of the rules
Don’t Let Your Mouth Get You In Trouble
o Officials get into trouble when they communicate
With their mouth
Their facial expressions
Their body language
No matter how many times your mouth wants to scream out “SHUT
UP” your brain should step up and replace it with “I’m listening”
The coach may ask to help from a crewmate
• Don’t be bullied into such a discussion, but if you are unsure and believe another
official can help, go for help
• Be sure the conversation is brief and takes place out of the coach’s earshot
• Never tell a coach “That’s not my call coach”
o It is permissible to say “I’m sorry coach. I had a different responsibility on
that play. But I will try to get you the information.”
o When time allows official’s should make an effort to get the information
o Respect comes when coaches feel they are dealt with honestly
Time to React
o Give coaches a chance to retract comments by asking “Do you care to repeat that,
o The coach will take the hint and end or at least modify his outburst
o If the coach repeats the objectionable comment or responds with end stronger
language, that coach earned a flag or technical foul
The more you say, the less it means
• When someone challenges an official, too often officials say “Yeah but . . .”
o Then give some defensive response
• In many cases your best tool to handle a situation are your ears, not your month
Never use profanity
• A coach or player may swear during a heated argument and get penalized
• If you use any vulgarity during the exchange, the focus will change to you and the
swear word you said
• Holding yourself to a higher standard is one of the many challenges in officiating.
• You cannot curse at players during the game either
Communicating with Coaches--When some situations get heated and may be
unavoidable, here are six suggestions when dealing with coaches
1. Be in control and speak in calm, easy tones…if you’re asking the questions you are in
2. Maintain, positive confident body language and keep space between you and the
3. Make eye contact with the coach when the situation allows
4. Answer questions, not statements
5. Be a responder, not an initiator
6. Deal with the behavior before answering the question
The voice has to sound like you care
• It’s natural for an official to say, “You want to be thrown out of the game?”
• Don’t say, “You’ll be in trouble”—it’s too vague
• Describe the trouble—“let me tell you what’s going to happen if you continue to
yell. You will be ejected from the game.
• Let’s say the coach says, “I am not stepping off the field or court”
o You say, “Is there anything that I could say at this time or my crewmates
could say at this time to get you to step back on the sidelines, bench so we
can proceed with this game
o Is there anything I can say sir to get you to do that?
• Act
• If the answer to question above is NO—the coach is gone
• I did not toss the coach because I got angry.
• I asked the coach would words work and the coach said no, so in the interest
of the game that coach had to be taken off.
You need to act in such a way the SDHSAA can defend you.
o How can the SDHSAA defend you if you can not
control your tongue?
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