All Sports – How to NOT Argue

Tips for avoiding the nose-to-nose arguments and disagreements that show up on TV highlight shows.

How-to-NOT-Argue

By Dr. Peter Sacco

It takes a minimum of two people to have an argument. If one person chooses not to participate, that leaves the second party blustering in the wind.

It’s not an easy thing to not argue. In fact, it takes more mental toughness, emotional control and good old-fashioned restraint than it does to go on the offensive and fire when fired upon. But if you can train yourself to remain above the fray when a player or coach desperately wants to go nose-to-nose with you, you’ll be a better, more confident and more respected official.

Before we get into how to not argue, let’s make it perfectly clear that nothing said or recommended from this point forward is intended as a substitute for dealing with a problem head-on and using any and all tools in your arsenal to manage that problem. When a participant clearly steps over the line when trying to goad you into an argument, that’s another animal and you should deal with that appropriately.

To sidestep an oncoming argument, you should deal with the aggressor in a positive, assertive manner. Letting people know they are valued, respected and that their opinions matter sets up a situation for positive conflict resolution. Here are some suggestions for taking control of a conflict before it turns into an argument:

1. Let the other person talk – and don’t interrupt.

In other words, have the courtesy to listen before you say anything. You may have made up your mind and there’s no way you’re changing anything, but by fully listening to what the coach or player has to say, you can at least empathize with the other person’s viewpoint.

2. Using your own words, repeat the problem back to the coach or player.

That lets the aggressor know you heard him or her and that you understood the message. It also gives that person a moment to calm down. In some cases it might help players or coaches see how ridiculous their points are. For example, saying, “Coach, what I hear you saying is that even though you and I both saw number seven clothesline his opponent, I should ignore it because we’ve already blown the whistle on you four times and we haven’t called a foul on the other team yet. Is that right?”

3. Don’t debate judgments.

You should always remain objective and not try to justify judgment calls once you have made up your mind.

4. Limit discussion only to the most recent call.

When the coach or player brings up a play from earlier in the game, it’s time to shut down the conversation. Make it clear that you’re only willing to consider the current conflict; the past is history.

5. Remain assertive and decisive.

Avoid being wishy-washy with agreements. You’re free to change your mind about a call, but it should never appear that you were talked into that change. And if you do change your mind, do it in a strong, decisive manner. The worst thing you can do is look like you’re going back and forth with your decisions.

6. If you can help it, don’t engage in any discussion when you’re very angry.

Officials are human and you may see or hear something that really sets you off for whatever reason. You make your call and now the coach wants to “discuss” it with you. If possible, walk away until you’ve regained your composure.

You’ve probably seen a game or heard stories in which a player gets ejected, followed shortly by the head coach, then an assistant, maybe a couple of other bench personnel follow. It’s easy to see how a person’s tolerance level would get shorter and shorter with each successive verbal assault. Situations like that call for an alert partner to step in, giving you a moment to cool your jets and let the adrenaline drain.

7. When discussing problems, focus on solutions.

For officials, that doesn’t mean changing your call, but you might acquiesce to a coach’s request to consult a crewmate or you might say something like, “It was a good no-call, Coach, but I understand your frustration and I’ll keep an eye out for the sort of contact you’re talking about.”

Referee Magazine(Dr. Peter Sacco is a psychologist and author living in Niagara Falls, Ontario. This column originally appeared in the 6/10 issue of Referee Magazine..)

105 Websites and Apps Worth Checking Out

Education  GENERAL EDUCATION

1 | Referee.com

2 | Referee.com/MyReferee

3 | NASO.org

4 | SportsOfficiatingSummit.com

5 | NFHS.org

6 | Sportsofficials.ca

7 | Forum.officiating.com

Social  SOCIAL MEDIA

8 | Twitter: @RefereeMag

9 | Facebook.com/RefereeMagazine

10 | Facebook.com/NASOofficiating

Tools  TOOLS

11 | Mhsaa.com/Officials.aspx

12 | Hudl.com

13 | Vokkero.com

14 | Eartec.com

15 | Vizualofficial.com

16 | TheTyros.com

17 | Officiallyfit.net

18 | APP: ReplayBooth – iPad  |  Android

Basketball  BASKETBALL

19 | ncaambb.arbitersports.com

20 | ncaawbb.arbitersports.com

21 | Ref60.com

22 | ihoops.com/training-room/officials

23 | IAABO.org

24 | NBRA.net

25 | Whistleshare.com

26 | Statsheet.com/mcb/referees

27 | Bbstate.com/officials

28 | APP: NCAA Basketball – iPhone / iPad  |  Android

29 | APP: iPlayBook for Basketball – iPhone / iPad  |  Android

30 | APP: IAABO

Volleyball  VOLLEYBALL

31 | PAVO.org

32 | Volleyballreftraining.com

33 | APP: NCAA Volleyball Rules – iPhone / iPad  |  Android

Softball  SOFTBALL

34 | Sup.arbitersports.com

35 | Cactusumpires.com

36 | ASAsoftball.com Umpire Page

Football  FOOTBALL

37 | cfo.arbitersports.com

38 | NFLofficiating.com

39 | Profootballreferee.com

40 | Football-refs.com

41 | Footballzebras.com

42 | Romgilbert.us

43|  Mentorref.com

44 | Ruletool.info

45 | Refstripes.com/forum

46 | Foxsports.com/nfl/page/Mike-Pereira-FOX-NFL-Rules-Analyst

47 | APP: NCAA Football Rules – iPhone / iPad  |  Android

Football  BASEBALL

48 | ncaabaseball.arbitersports.com

49 | StevetheUmp.com

50 | MLB.com Umpires Page

51 | MILB.com Umpires Page

52 | UmpsCare.com

53 | Majorleagueumpires.com

54 | Umpire.org

55 | Umpireteacher.com

56 | Umpire-empire.com

57 | Stocktonumpires.com

58 | Umphub.com

59 | Retrosheet.org

Football  OTHER SPORTS

60 | HockeyRefs.com

61 | NHLOfficials.com

62 | APP: NCAA Ice Hockey Rules – iPhone / iPad  |  Android

63 | USLacrosse.org Officials Section

64 | Wrestlingref.com

65 | Rugbyrefs.com

66 | Umpirehockey.com

Football  SOCCER

67 | Pete.uri.edu/archives/socref-l.html

68 | AsktheRef.com

69 | BigSoccer.com Referee Forum

70 | Askasoccerreferee.com

71 | Ussoccer.com/Referees/Referees-Home.aspx

72 | Fifa.com Refereeing Page

73 | RefTesting.com

74 | Soccerrefereeusa.com

75 | Refereeassociation.net

76 | ProReferees.com

77 | NISOA.com

78 | USrefereeconnection.com

79 | Gameofficials.net

80 | APP: NCAA Soccer Rules – iPhone / iPad  |  Android

uniforms  UNIFORMS & GEAR

81 | CliffKeen.com

82 | DalcoAthletic.com

83 | Fox40world.com

84 | Honigs.com

85 | Purchaseofficials.com

86 | Ump-attire.com

87 | OfficialSports.com

88 | GerryDavis.com

89 | Refereescall.com

90 | Smittyofficialsapparel.com

91 | 1stopsportsshop.com

92 | Refshop.com

93 | Stripesplus.com

94 | Sportsrefs.com

95 | Heyrefstore.com

96 | Lestersupstatesports.com

97 | Officialsgearoutlet.com

groups  OFFICIALS GROUPS

98 | NASO-ON.org

99 | RefLaw.com

100 | Donaldcollins.org

101 | Digitalcritic.ca

102 | Refnation.com

assigning  ASSIGNING & PAYMENTS

103 | ArbiterSports.com

104 | Refpay.com

105 | APP: ArbiterSports

 

How to Give Accurate Evaluations

You’ve been asked to evaluate a fellow official and have been given an evaluator’s checklist. In many instances checklists offer only a limited perspective on how officials perform. The trouble is that listed characteristics are often too general and don’t reveal specific officiating actions in a contest. There are specific things you can do to improve your evaluating.

Use descriptions. An evaluation or observation report must describe, and doing that requires more than a traditional number system, which can be rather vague. Descriptions should be done in neutral phrasing, using non-opinionated terminology and avoiding critical remarks as much as possible. When officiating judgments are part of the picture, the description should be couched in tentative terms, such as, “You appeared to call strikes on pitches that may have been high in the strike zones of shorter hitters.” (Using you means that the evaluation report will be produced for the official as well as an administrative entity.)

Keep score. An observer can itemize behavior by making a tally of the way an official operated. If you’re in a good position to evaluate strike calls, say directly behind home plate, you can “keep score” by tracking pitches that either seem accurately called or else seem off the mark. Charting would also reveal patterns of an umpire’s judgment: missing low pitches, expanding the strike zone beyond the outside corner and so on.

Charting can be done in other sports as well. Keep track of how many times a football wing official adopted a progress spot on running plays by moving downfield parallel to the play and pivoting at a 90-degree angle to identify a dead-ball spot. In basketball, record how often a referee got caught trailing a fast break by several yards. Signals can also be described.

If isolated behavior needs recording, that can be done in narrative language: “With two minutes left in the first quarter, the referee and umpire conferred for 38 seconds before administering a penalty for holding.”

Give positive reinforcement. At upper levels of officiating, observers often try to record many more positive behaviors than negative ones. Part of objective evaluating is to reinforce correct officiating. With narrative descriptions, you can explain how an official appears to adopt the correct positioning before play, how he or she moves according to action and if the official seems to be looking in the proper places to execute judgments.

Share it. Should you share an evaluation with the person being observed? If you don’t, there’s little hope for improvement. Plus, a secret evaluation will likely be resented. Sharing a summary of patterns allows the official to reflect on the observations, moving the recipient to counter the perceptions or accept the evaluation as a positive stimulus for change.

Written by Jerry Grunska, a retired educator who lives in Evergreen, Colo. He officiated football for more than 40 years. This column originally appeared in the 11/04 issue of Referee.

Copyright© Referee Enterprises, Inc.
This article is copyrighted by Referee Enterprises, Inc. (REI), and may not be republished in whole or in part online, in print or in any capacity without expressed written permission from REI. It is available online as an educational tool for individuals. Visit us at www.referee.com.

There’s No ‘I’ in Crew

“Perception is reality.” When it comes to officiating team sports, that’s often the absolute truth. It doesn’t matter what sport you’re officiating, crew cohesion is a must if your crew is to be perceived positively. Another absolute truth is that when everyone isn’t on the same page, it doesn’t take players, coaches and fans long to recognize that “tonight’s officials are struggling.”

The best officiating crews take the field or floor as one official. They know that the only philosophy that matters is the crew’s philosophy. They’ve invested time together away from the sport. They know each other, respect each other’s judgment and approach the game with confidence. Because there is no room for “the individual,” they’ve worked hard to create a team approach.

No crew establishes a quality reputation quickly. It takes time. Only after working many games together, suffering through mistakes and sharing the highs and lows of several seasons, can a crew establish itself as one that can be counted upon to work the big games consistently.

We’ve all seen the football crews that have one official who throws many more flags than his partners. His definition of fouls is different from the other officials’. Then there’s the basketball ref who calls a close game while her partners “let them play.” The perception those officials are sending is that not only are they not on the same page, they haven’t even entered the library together. It’s a recipe for disaster.

If you’re not in that situation and never have been, don’t get cocky because it’s only a replacement official away! As you work toward cohesion, thorough pregame sessions are essential. But even with plenty of game preparation and years of experience, every crew and official eventually runs into a situation in which there is disagreement. It’s how the team handles it that makes the difference. If you disagree with a call a crewmember makes during the game, discuss it at halftime or after the game. Let each member of the crew weigh in.

Confrontation leads to expression and allows officials to develop a closer understanding of each other’s priorities – get a better idea of what makes each other tick. Knowing how and why your fellow officials may react to situations allows you to relate to each other instinctively. Any psychiatrist will tell you that understanding others is key to effective communication! Even if you don’t build a campfire and sing Kumbaya together, those situations can serve as defining moments in the development of your crew’s ability to relate to one another more effectively.

It’s important to know that the other officials on the field or court are with you in every sense of the word. It’s not enough to just wear the same clothes, you’ve got to take the time and make sure everything fits! Your performance and your crew’s reputation will benefit from the extra effort.

Written by John Jay Stone, a high school football official from Swanton, Ohio.

Copyright© Referee Enterprises, Inc.
This article is copyrighted by Referee Enterprises, Inc. (REI), and may not be republished in whole or in part online, in print or in any capacity without expressed written permission from REI. It is available online as an educational tool for individuals. Visit us at www.referee.com.

Practice Proper Preparation

Your game assignment actually begins well in advance of game day. Here is a list of important things to do as the assignment approaches:

Verify the assignment. At the very least, call the school within a week or so of the game. Talk to the person (usually the athletic director) who catches the heat if the officials don’t show. Don’t just leave a voice mail that says you’re coming because you can’t be sure what a lack of response means.

Confirm the time and location of the game and any special conditions that will exist. If you can, exchange cell phone numbers with the game manager, so you can inform each other of any last-minute problems all the way up to game time.

Firm up your travel arrangements. My football crew makes up a spreadsheet that includes the driver, the meeting point, who will provide the snacks and so on. Then I confirm each week’s plan as one of the last things we do before we part company after the previous game. The good crew chief also insists that the whole crew has each other’s cell phone numbers.

Check your equipment. Never trust anyone else to pack your gear for you. Check everything in your bag well ahead of time in case something needs mending or cleaning. A good approach, if somebody besides you washes your uniform, is to have the person return it fresh from the dryer so you can check, fold and account for it going into your bag yourself.

Do some homework. Opinions vary on how much you should find out about the teams before the game. You owe it to them and yourself to have at least some idea of how competitive and skillful it will be, plus what’s on the line for each team. Conversely, you don’t want to have so thick a book on the teams that you anticipate things that don’t actually occur.

Check the weather on game day. If a monsoon or blizzard is in the forecast, consider padding your travel plans. Remember that one person’s short sleeve weather is another person’s visit to the South Pole. Get to the crew ahead of time to agree on dress and an updated travel plan well in advance.

Physically prepare. Each person has his or her own standard for sleep and food intake before a game. The best plan is to stick to it. Don’t experiment the night before the championship game, especially when you travel to a place where the water or menu is likely to be different from what you’re used to.

Adjust your workout routine and preparation as the season progresses. Watch for the signs of feeling stiffer and less flexible that come when you’re working too much. Allow yourself more recovery time. It’s easier to stay in shape than get back in shape with each passing year.

In all your preparations for an assignment, bear in mind a sure way to ruin a reputation is to miss an assignment in a way that was avoidable. Never assume details. Look after yourself and you’ll be a long way toward being the type of official who keeps getting invited back.

Tim Sloan, Bettendorf, Iowa, is a former football and soccer college official who now works high school football, basketball and volleyball.

Copyright© Referee Enterprises, Inc.
This article is copyrighted by Referee Enterprises, Inc. (REI), and may not be republished in whole or in part online, in print or in any capacity without expressed written permission from REI. It is available online as an educational tool for individuals. Visit us at www.referee.com.

Who’s Worth Watching?

Officials, like anyone else, are never too old or experienced to learn. And sometimes the best way to do that is through observing others. Not only can you get better by watching other officials, it often gives you the chance to help other officials to improve.

Watch newer officials. Go to a game prior to your own varsity game. Get there early enough to watch a quarter or a few innings. Watch other officials work with their partners, players, coaches and even fans. Seeing how they respond to situations or calls may help you either give them suggestions or come up with ways to handle similar situations yourself.

After the game, if you’re familiar with the officials and they are able to spend a few minutes with you, give them some feedback. By caring enough to confront a fellow official, make suggestions and give pats on the back, it will help that official and you as well.

Watch experienced crews at your level. Don’t only watch the younger officials. Get out and watch experienced crews. Last football season, I helped out with a crew that included several younger officials along with an official being groomed to be a referee. After the game, we recapped what went well and what needed improvement. When those officials left, I observed the varsity crew for a half. It was not much of a game, but I picked up some things to work on. Then I drove to where a crew that worked the state finals was working. I watched them for their second half and talked with them following the game.

In each case, I was able to pick up things from the officials I observed to incorporate into my mechanics and philosophy of officiating.

Watch officials in other sports. You can learn from all officials, even if you don’t work the sport they work. If you’re a basketball official, for example, watch baseball umpires handle confrontations with players or coaches. You may be able to use their game management techniques.

Watch how officials in other sports handle out-of-the-ordinary situations. Do they get together and talk about it? Do you see them discuss it and then give an explanation to not only the coaches, but to the players as well? Good communication skills are important and can help to calm potential problems. Officials in other sports may be able to help you improve yours.

Watch higher-level officials on TV. Watching how professional officials work, whether it be in person or on television, can help you advance in your officiating. They are working at that level for a reason. See where they position themselves, how they use different mechanics and how they work together. Incorporate some of their techniques into your own officiating.

Be aware of what you are doing as well as what others on the field or court are doing. Go that extra mile or stay to watch that experienced crew. When you’re done observing, make adjustments and changes for the better

By Michael Babicz (A high school basketball and football official for more than 25 years. He lives in Gurnee, Ill.)

Copyright© Referee Enterprises, Inc.
This article is copyrighted by Referee Enterprises, Inc. (REI), and may not be republished in whole or in part online, in print or in any capacity without expressed written permission from REI. It is available online via REI’s archive and/or its MyReferee web portal as an educational tool for individuals. Visit us at www.referee.com.

Buying Gear

Paging through any issue of Referee magazine, you’ll see many advertisements by companies that sell officiating-related uniforms and equipment. The choices have never been so plentiful.

The average multi-sport official spends hundreds, even thousands, of dollars buying officiating gear. In fact, for many people considering getting into officiating, buying uniforms and other items is a drawback that may just persuade a person to seek another hobby.

Today, with so many uniform requirements and so many choices, you must be a careful shopper — no different from most other types of shopping.

Follow these gear-buying commandments:

1. Wait to make goal-oriented buys. If you’re dreaming of advancing to the proverbial “next level” in officiating, but the dream is a few years away from becoming reality, there’s no need to rush out and buy the necessary equipment until it’s needed. For example, many small college football conferences want position placards (“U” for the umpire position, etc.) on the back of the striped shirt. For those referees, it means purchasing the placards and possibly a few extra short- and long-sleeved striped shirts to attach them to. If that small college official is still working high school games on Friday nights, that official must also have striped shirts without the placards. Wanting to be a small college referee is an admirable goal, but save your money until that goal is closer to becoming a reality.

If you’re on the cusp of advancing and may get a phone call from the supervisor any day now, you should go ahead and make the buy. That way, you’re not scrambling for the right stuff days before your first game at that level.

2. Measure yourself. Most officiating-related purchases are made via catalog mail order. When you call or go to a website to place your order, have your measurements ready. Use a measuring tape to get your exact measurements. Many customer-service representatives from reputable stores will be able to recommend sizes based on your measurements. That’s certainly better than guessing between a large and an extra-large.

3. Do you really need that? Judge the level of officiating you’re doing and estimate the number of games per week you’re working to make a smart purchase. If you’re working relatively few games and at the youth softball level, for example, you may not need the top-of-the-line chest protector that is designed for baseball players throwing the ball 90-plus miles an hour.

It also might be cheaper to buy a 12-pack of basketball lanyards, but just how many do you think you’ll need in the next three to five years? Don’t buy more than two sets of anything unless you’re likely to use them.

4. Look for quality. Buy the type of equipment and clothing that makes you feel protected and that looks sharp. Avoid that uneasy feeling that comes with going behind the plate in a baseball game with a chest protector you know wouldn’t stop a ping pong ball. If you’ve ever had a fleeting thought during any of your games that your equipment might not protect you, it’s time to buy better equipment. You can’t concentrate on the job at hand if you’re worried about getting hurt.

5. Talk to others. One of the best ways to find out about quality equipment and reputable companies is to talk to other officials. At local association meetings around the country, officials often talk about equipment. Rumors of shoddy material or poor customer service run rampant through the officiating grapevine. Don’t take every rumor as gospel but look for patterns. If you hear a number of sports officials bad-mouthing a certain product or company, chances are pretty good they’re right.

Also, look at what the pro and college referees are using. Most of the time, those officials are using high-quality gear because they’ve got to be heavily protected and look professional at all times.

The difficulty in recent years is that it has gotten very expensive to look like the pros because the uniforms keep changing. Just ask any umpire who now owns a light blue shirt, a dark blue shirt, a red shirt, plus a new pullover with a red turtleneck (or sometimes a blue undershirt). You need an oversized suitcase just to pack for the game!

6. Watch out for fads. Yes, marketers love to test “new” and “improved” stuff on referees, too. While advancements and upgrades are welcome, be careful of the items designed to revolutionize your officiating. The old adage is on target: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

7. Ask about the return policy. Since most items are purchased through mail order, be sure to carefully examine the return policy. You don’t want to be stuck with shoes that don’t fit.

As with all purchases in life: Buyer beware. Stick with the good companies that sell high-quality gear and you’ll be better for it. Cheaper prices are not always better.

 

Copyright© Referee Enterprises, Inc.
This article is copyrighted by Referee Enterprises, Inc. (REI), and may not be republished in whole or in part online, in print or in any capacity without expressed written permission from REI. It is available online via REI’s archive and/or its MyReferee web portal as an educational tool for individuals. Visit us at www.referee.com.

Don’t Do It

By Dave Sabaini

It seems no matter how long a person has been officiating, and regardless of the sports they work, any official can fall into situations in which his or her judgment or ability is questioned.

Often those situations are a direct result of officiating “errors” that are all too common, and can certainly be avoided under most circumstances with just a little bit of preparation. Look at the following errors, see if you are prone to any of them and then check their solutions to help you improve.

Error: Anticipating the play too much. You’re working your umpteenth game of the year, when a seemingly routine play develops. You’ve seen the play dozens of times, so you turn your head or orient your body away from the action for a moment, to get a jump on where you know the ball is going. The trouble is, the ball never arrives, and you have no clue what happened. Solution: Never anticipate a play to the degree that you turn your attention away from the action. Especially at lower levels, nothing can be assumed.

Error: Anticipating the call. The bad cousin of the previous error, anticipating the call never seems to work. Thinking, “Oh, the shortstop got to that ball in plenty of time, the batter is a dead duck at first,” will cause you to blow more calls than a blind man. Solution: Never anticipate the outcome of a play. Let the players determine what the call is to be.

Error: Being out of position. Most coaches can handle a call that happens to go against their team if the official was hustling and in position to make the call. But if you’re getting tired and a little lazy, or worse yet, careless, and miss a call, expect to get roasted. Solution: Hustle. You’re being paid for a full game, so give it. You’ve heard it a hundred times: The game you’re working is the most important game in the country that day to the participants. Treat it that way by hustling from start to finish.

Error: Letting your concentration wander. You kicked a call, you fought with your spouse, your mother-in-law is coming over, or who is that gorgeous person in the third row? Next thing you know, you’ve missed a play or a call. Nothing will cause a bad game more often than a simple lack of concentration. Solution: Every play, every pitch, every moment, keep your mind on your business. The players and coaches deserve your attention during the contest, so give it to them. If you’re having trouble, get with your partner and ask him to “check” on you.

Error: Being a “hard guy.” Those are the officials who always seem to have a chip on their shoulders. Nothing they do can be questioned. Any comments are met with a hand so firm you could hammer nails with it. Those officials are tough to work with and tougher to play under. Solution: If you are a hard guy, lighten up! True control of a game comes with respect of and from all involved. Respect is earned from being fair, approachable and competent. If you’re having trouble controlling games, work on those things.

Error: Not knowing the rules thoroughly. There isn’t anything much worse than officials who don’t know the rules the way they should. Credibility begins and ends there. Solution: Make rules study a part of your regular routine both in and out of season. Get with some friends and quiz each other, or discuss scenarios. Develop the muscle between your ears, and you’ll be able to carry a game with it more often than not.

There are other errors you’ll make, but those are the killers. Work on your “game behind the game,” and rediscover why you became an official.

Written by Dave Sabaini, a freelance writer and official who lives in Terre Haute, Ind.

 

Copyright© Referee Enterprises, Inc.
This article is copyrighted by Referee Enterprises, Inc. (REI), and may not be republished in whole or in part online, in print or in any capacity without expressed written permission from REI. It is available online via REI’s archive and/or its MyReferee web portal as an educational tool for individuals. Visit us at www.referee.com.

We All Make Mistakes

By Lawrence Tomei

Officials are human, and therefore prone to making mistakes. We spend hours learning the rules and years honing our mechanics on the court, the diamond or the field. But even with all of that work, mistakes are unavoidable. How we handle those gaffes is what separates the novice from the professional. It is often said that we only grow and improve when we learn from those mistakes.

Below is a checklist for managing mistakes. You can use it to review your calls after games or use it in a chapter training session to discuss the proper ways to handle errors. It will help you think about the critical components and how best to turn any mistake into a valuable learning experience.

  • Make sure you understand the nature of the mistake that was made. Do you know what went wrong?
  • Work to understand exactly why the error happened. Was it bad judgment, an inadvertent call, or a mistake of omission or collaboration?
  • Identify associated factors that contributed to the mistake, not just the mistake itself. Were you out of position, blocked from view or physically impaired?
  • Review how you responded both to the slip-up and its resolution. Did you make matters worse defending your mistake with players or coaches?
  • Identify long-term areas for improvement. Could attendance at rules interpretation meetings or mechanics sessions reduce the chances of the mistake re-occurring?
  • Identify new or additional information that reduces the chances for the mistake in the future. Are there extra resources (books, films, etc.) that address the mistake?
  • Consider your behavior before, during and after the error. How do you think your behavior might change in a similar situation?
  • Don’t compensate — in officiating, two wrongs never make a right. Do not search for a violation on the other team to square a previous blunder.
  • Know which (and when) decisions are subject to correction and which calls are not open for debate. Is the mistake correctable before the game continues? Is the mistake reviewable? Can you ask for help on the call from a fellow official?
  • Study the rules, mechanics or applications necessary to avoid the mistake in the future. Practice the situation so that you are less prone to repeat the mistake.
  • Correctly apply the rules (penalties, enforcement spots, identification of players, etc.). Do not compound the mistake by a further misapplication of the rules.
  • Accept responsibility. Can you admit you messed up — at least to yourself? How about to your colleagues? Share your lessons learned.
  • Learn from your mistake. Regardless of circumstances, can you make every misstep into a chance to further your knowledge, skills or aptitude as an official? Good officials admit their mistakes and move on. Great officials admit mistakes, learn from them and seldom make the same one again. Are you a good official or a great official?

Written by Dr. Lawrence Tomei, EdD, the dean of academic services and associate professor of education for Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania. He is a 10-year official with the West Penn Football Officials Association and has officiated football in several states over the last 21 years.

 

Copyright© Referee Enterprises, Inc.
This article is copyrighted by Referee Enterprises, Inc. (REI), and may not be republished in whole or in part online, in print or in any capacity without expressed written permission from REI. It is available online via REI’s archive and/or its MyReferee web portal as an educational tool for individuals. Visit us at www.referee.com.

Tips on Handling Blowouts

By Jerry Grunska

Sometimes games are less than games; they are a mish-mash of horrendous play and lopsided scores. Officials can either contribute to the mayhem or else help to tone it down and ease it to a comfortable conclusion.

Premise number one: We don’t want to subvert any basic rules. We are obliged to observe the rules. Premise number two: There is a spirit to the rules, undefined areas of ambiguity, in which considerations of context should be taken into account when applying the code. That means that borderline calls – ones that could go either way – should result in favorable decisions for the team that exhibits qualities of ineptitude and which may be way behind in the score.

But that simplistic statement presents complications too. Here are examples:

A basketball team opens the game by scoring 15 straight points.

A soccer team punches in a trio of goals shortly after the opening kickoff.

A football team picks up fumbles and scores a pair of touchdowns before the other team has run a single play.

A baseball team scores seven runs in its first at bat, against none for the opposition.

Officials first of all should not act in haste and jump to questionable conclusions. Teams can come back from early disadvantages, and they should be allowed to have that chance.

Truly, there are no borderline foul balls back to the screen in baseball and softball, nor are there borderline baskets in basketball. But there are borderline pitches and borderline traveling violations. Should the officials begin making distinctions to even up competition right off the bat? Probably not. The initial burst of superiority may be a fluke; it could be an illusion. A game must move into a pattern before it is evident that one team has overwhelming skill.

An arbitrary guide is of little use, but as a possible reminder let’s put it at a four-touchdown lead early in the second quarter; a dozen-run advantage in the third inning; a point spread of 20 to open the second quarter; or four goals at the close of the first half.

Officials can contribute to a smooth flow in such games by personally hustling the ball into play, by moving swiftly themselves to cover play action and by encouraging the team that is woefully in arrears (often by gestures rather than by voice).

The danger for an official in blowouts is losing concentration. One cannot operate in a lackadaisical manner and at the same usher a game to a satisfactory ending. Premise number three, then: You cannot stop runs from scoring or baskets from pouring through the nets, but you can have an effect (avoid the word control) on player behavior.

For instance, you can prevent the winners from taunting or puffing themselves up. You can aid the losers in adding resolve and determination to their efforts. You can also deal directly with coaches who seem to revel in running up the score and humiliating opponents.

Another practice to avoid is giving players, coaches and spectators the impression that you’re bored or would rather be anywhere else. Slumped shoulders, sloppy signals and a lack of hustle must be avoided.

Remember also that the tide can turn quickly. Not every team simply rolls over when it falls behind early. A grand slam, a touchdown and recovered onside kick or an injury to a key player on the leading team can change the complexion of a game in short order. It’s often difficult to regain focus once it has been lost because it seems the outcome has been decided. The key, then, is to stay alert and not allow your guard to fall.

But if a rally doesn’t occur, how can you help the game along? Borderline calls go against the team that is substantially ahead. Minor transgressions of the rules that are not potentially harmful may be interpreted in favor of the team with lesser skill. That’s not saying you should wink at the rules. Do not cheat. Rather, if a runner moves slightly out of the line between bases to elude a tag and that act aids the team that is behind, such a move may be permitted with no clear harm derived. That is what making a fine distinction means. A swipe tag sometimes does not nick the runner’s foot is another case of making a judicious distinction.

If a runner plunges into the line in football and is momentarily stopped, a distinction can be made about whether the play has ended.

The whole approach for officials working a game with a pronounced point differential is making careful distinctions. For officials, a game need not get out of hand.

Jerry Grunska is a frequent Referee contributor. A retired educator, he lives in Evergreen, Colo.

 

Copyright© Referee Enterprises, Inc.
This article is copyrighted by Referee Enterprises, Inc. (REI), and may not be republished in whole or in part online, in print or in any capacity without expressed written permission from REI. It is available online via REI’s archive and/or its MyReferee web portal as an educational tool for individuals. Visit us at www.referee.com.
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