If you are a parent involved in boys or girls sports, there’s a real good chance you have already been (or one day will be) approached about helping the league out by officiating. Unfortunately, youth sports leagues always struggle with finding officials — especially good officials with a positive leadership style! (The Parents Playbook)
As you might imagine, being a sports official is no easy task — often it is your immediate call that makes the difference between a team winning or losing a game. Interestingly, great officials are the ones you seemingly never see or hear as they do their job and interfere with play only in situations that warrant so. In other words, great officials do their job by being fair and respectful to both teams, and make it a point to always hustle while on the job.
While the duties of officials vary from sport-to-sport, there are still commonalities found amongst successful officials – regardless of the sport. With that in mind, I offer the following 5 Important tips to being a top-notch official:
1. Be consistent. Yes, this may be the most obvious tip, but it’s also the most important. Consistency also implies that you are fair in your judgements, and cautious to not show favoritism to certain players, coaches, or teams.
2. Don’t make “makeup” calls. While it is true that officials are often accused of making up calls during games, my expericne has shown me it is far better to accept that you may have blown a call, learn from it, and move on — as opposed to trying to “even up” the game later on as a result of your mistake. The truth is makeup calls are usually easy to detect, and actually work against officials in the long run.
3. Don’t take over the game. While it may be tempting to exercise your power on the field or court, it is important to make the required calls and then step out of the way and allow the players to compete. Unfortunately, some officials take advantage of their position and engage in a variety of attention-seeking behaviors, including humiliation tactics (that can be seen through aggressive language, or even passive-aggressive actions).
4. Show respect – receive respect. Its pretty simple, officials who show respect stand a much greater chance of being respected by both teams competing. Good officials not only respect the competitors, but they also respect the game, and show this through hustle and being in the right position to make critical calls.
5. Know the difference between bad calls and wrong calls. If you are an official it’s guaranteed you will make bad calls (the kind of calls dependent on human perception and judgment), but you want to limit the number of wrong calls you make (officiating mistakes due to not fully understanding the rules of the game). Be sure to study the rule book and keep up with continuing education in order to minimize the number of wrong calls made during the season.