Working With Coaches

Recently we received a document from another officials association with some tips on how to work with coaches.

There are some great ideas that should help everyone the next time they are working with a coach. And if you have some other ideas, feel free to share them below.

Tips On How To Work With Head Coaches

Make eye contact when possible. A coach wants to be assured that he has your attention. Try to remove as many distractions from the situation as possible.

Address coaches by calling them either “coach” or “coach (last name)”. They’ll feel most comfortable, particularly in front of their players, being addressed this way.

Show respect to get respect. To achieve this use formal language, keep communication brief, adopt a neutral tone and avoid any personal remarks. Stick to the issue at hand in a straightforward way.

Ask coaches to deal with problem players. Be sure to identify the problem in explicit terms, without vilifying the player. Sometimes it’s hard to do, but it can be accomplished with carefully chosen language.

Remain calm under all circumstances. If a coach attempts to “get in your face”, pivot sideways so that you are shoulder-to-shoulder. It is hard for someone to speak in an aggressive, confrontational way when the proximity between parties is side by side (flank officials).

Let coaches have their say. When a coach approaches to protest or argue, adopt an instant “listening mode” and let the aggrieved individual finish his remarks as long as he is being appropriate.

Use non-confrontational body language. To be aware of body posture, facial expression, head tilt and arm position, one must say, “I am going to appear receptive and contemplative. I can think best and measure my words that way. I am determined to solve the problem, not escalate it.”

If you make a mistake, admit it. A simple apology is sufficient.

When a coach raises their voice, lower yours. A calm voice has a way of triggering an equal reply.

Get both coaches together when needed. Sometimes problems can be easily solved with a joint consultation. Weather problems are a good example.

Support fellow officials. Never betray partners by showing that you doubt their judgment. Instead, indicate faith in someone else’s decision by saying the partner had a better view of a more favorable angle than the responding official or partner.

Acknowledge what a coach has to say. Responding with, “I hear what you’re saying”, “I understand”, or “I see what you mean” are all equally effective. You don’t have to agree with the coach, but at least demonstrate that you are listening.

Promote good sportsmanship by praising it when it occurs. When a coach makes a positive gesture towards their opponents or an official, take a moment to acknowledge it. Sometimes a smile and nod of the head are enough.

Think about the coach’s motivations for talking to you. Put yourself in their shoes just as you would in trying to understand a player’s viewpoint. That means having some insight about a coach’s motivation and overall goal. Sometimes how the coach will be viewed in the eyes of the players and team supporters is the primary stimulus for behavior.

When officiating, leave your ego in your car. Sometimes simple facial expressions are far more effective than acting like a authority figure.

Permit the coach to disengage. Recognize (through facial expression, body language, and terminating vocal patterns) when it is time to end a conversation. Nothing is gained by insisting on the last word.

Don’t use your hands when talking to a coach. Your gestures can reveal more than may want to convey

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