Some sports officials do not have the luxury of choosing their game partner. Many organizations have a commissioner or game assigner that schedules each game assignment and crew. If you’re lucky enough to be able to choose, what attributes would you prefer in your partner?

Think about the officiating traits and behavior that you would favor. Perhaps you already have a shopping list of “must have” traits you want in a partner. Probably the most prestigious quality an official can have is the ability to render decisions under difficult conditions. Several other more common characteristics most wanted include honesty, rules knowledge, consistency, good communication skills and physical ability.

Being the best of friends is not a prerequisite to crew harmony. At the very least you should get to know each other before the start of the contest if you have not worked together before. Start by discussing any unusual game situations you may have had in recent games. From that explanation you can get a gauge on experience level, rules knowledge and ability to handle adversity. Through that exchange, the partnership can plan, organize, motivate and alter individual attitudes and philosophies for the betterment of the officiating team. The sharing of ideas develops strong relationships which extend not only to a personal level, but also onto the court or field. Without a coherent, smooth and consistent working relationship between crew members, the partnership will suffer.

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One key to being a successful official is having the ability to be flexible in order to adapt your style to the changing game situation. Styles vary not only among officials, but also with each game worked. There are preferred ways to operate, each with its own course of success. You may find yourself adjusting your style to fit your partner’s abilities. Successful officials do not operate entirely in one mode, adapting to the change in circumstances with their partner and the style of play in the contest. Conflicting styles, philosophies and different ideas can hinder partnership success. A solid pregame will reduce confusion and get crew members in line with game responsibilities and help equal officiating understanding.

Just as athletes need to warm up before the contest, officials must prepare themselves both mentally and physically before entering the court or field. Your pregame conference can be the introduction you need in understanding your partner’s rules knowledge, ability and confidence level.

Great mentors understand the benefits of developing strong relationships which provide valuable support and advice. It should be every official’s obligation to help encourage growth within their sport. Passing the torch to the next generation is a great way to give back to your organization and the sport you love.

Officiating builds skills that can be used over a lifetime. The qualities that are the makeup of a good official are also the qualities that make up a good employee, spouse, parent and friend. Teamwork, loyalty, sacrifice, decision-making, fair-mindedness, accountability and honesty are some of the positive skills and qualities that can be learned, developed and implemented into your game. All should strive and aspire to achieve those qualities. Bring those qualities to your game and share them with your partner.

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Our interaction to our sport is to manage situations and players first and foremost. But the building of solid relationships with partners plays a big part into the level of success achieved. For most, officiating is an avocation where you are compensated, but the real benefits come from the friendships and relationships developed over the years.

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There may not be a perfect officiating match, with everyone bringing his or her own personality traits and styles to the game. Each of us matures differently throughout our careers. Undoubtedly, what makes the best partnership is through our officiating training. Mechanics, signals and rules knowledge are the foundation needed to successfully manage a game. Those are the standards that represent the attributes that all must obtain and expect from their partner. Think of it as the skill set needed to get the job done right. With each official armed with that knowledge, it can be assured that each athletic contest can be correctly managed.

Game control is easier when the crew is thoroughly prepared and shares a respectful, supportive and collaborative attitude. No matter the differences or similarities in personality and styles, understanding and implementing the officiating basics into every game assures a

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Note: This article is archival in nature. Rules, interpretations, mechanics, philosophies and other information may or may not be correct for the current year.

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