How Officials Work with Others

Working with the League Director

It's important to form a relationship with the league director or game site administrator. Prior to the season, you should meet with your league director to be fully aware of any special league rules or policies.

Keep the relationship strong throughout the season. Your league director or site administrator can help you deal with the unexpected that might occur during a game, such as unruly fans or an injury. The league director is responsible for all aspects of managing the league and the games. When it comes to officials, a league director has three basic responsibilities: security, communication and support.

Prior to every game, officials should cover the following with the league director or site administrator:

1.Check in and introduce yourself.

2.Confirm the day's schedule of games and start times.

3.Ask where the league director or site administrator will be located during the game, so officials can easily find the them.

4.Inform the league director or site administrator that if there are any unusual problems with fans (throwing objects on the floor, yelling obscenities at opponents, etc.), you will stop the game and call on the them to take care of the problem. Taking care of the problem may mean a warning to the offender or an immediate ejection from the facilities based on an assessment of the situation.

5.Inform the league director or site administrator that if a player or coach is ejected, the they may be called upon to help lead the offender from the court area.

6.Thank the league director or site administrator for their support.

The importance of keeping in close communication with league administrators cannot be overstated. Their cooperation is necessary to keep the game running smoothly and to ensure the participants' safety.

Working with a Partner

Partnering in officiating is no different than in any other facet of life. The underlying principles remain the same whether you're dealing with a marriage, work environment, friendship or team. The goal is to make the whole better than the sum of its parts. Each individual is responsible for making the team, the crew and the partnership better. This is not an option; it is a requirement.

Here are some things every official can do to, not only help your officiating, but to help as a partner:

1.Come to the game prepared. Specifically, being prepared requires you to be physically ready, mentally sharp and emotionally stable.

2.Become a leader. Exhibit leadership skills. Skills are often best displayed when you lead by example. If the time comes when you must delegate, do so with authority, not arrogance.

3.Become a team player. Add your knowledge and experience to the game but do not exceed it. Knowledge is the tool to being able to handle situations in the game. Stretching beyond your capabilities makes you a bad partner.

4.Trust and teach your partner. Great partnering means being willing and able to trust your partner. However, trust is a two-way street. You get it when you give it. Trust in your partner's ability as you would your own. Challenge yourself to better your partner with the intent of bettering the game.

5.Overcome roadblocks. The most obvious is ego. Check it at the door. If you feel you are bigger than the game and bigger than your partner, you can never be a great partner.

Working with Coaches

Coaches and officials can have an adversarial relationship because of one major factor: Coaches care who wins and officials don't. Because coaches are pulling for their team, they see the game with a built-in bias. As a consequence, they are sometimes quick to view officials' decisions as unfair.

No matter how the coaches act toward officials, officials can work with coaches to try and get them to understand the officials' role in the game. Listening to legitimate queries, talking with coaches at appropriate times and keeping open the lines of communication help bridge the gap.

If you are able to keep the coach informed of odd situations and the reasoning behind certain calls, you can keep the coach from becoming a volatile game participant. That goes a long way to keeping the coach's mind on the game and not on you.

If a question is reasonable, answer it. If a reasonable question is followed by comments on a play that happened three minutes ago, kindly get the coach on track. If he or she doesn't follow your lead, end the conversation.

How you say something has as much impact as what you say. An official who is able to keep a cool head in turbulent times will be ahead of those who can't do the same. Being able to stay emotionally detached from the game and deliver information to a coach in an even tone puts to rest any doubt of favoritism. Work with coaches and not against them. It's in the best interest of the kids.

Working with Parents

Parents who attend games have a vested interest. Officials come under the scrutiny of parents when, in the parents' eyes, there was an injustice to their team, son or daughter. The close confines of the court and seating area for fans -- typically found at youth games -- magnifies some situations.

While it's not recommended to work with parents while officiating at all levels, the youth arena is special. Players are typically just learning the game and coaches and officials are usually newcomers. Parents, coaches and officials who recognize the opportunity to play basketball as a learning opportunity can work together to foster a positive and energetic atmosphere for all players.

If parents have reasonable questions about a play or ruling, and the opportunity to explain it is there, do it. If you can offer insight on rules or topics of concern to the parents during dead-ball situations, you will be viewed as a positive contributor to the game.

When you are on the court, you are the ruling authority. When the whistle sounds, what you say is gospel. Use your authority judiciously and always remember that the player you're dealing with is someone's son or daughter. How would you like your child dealt with by an official? Always keep that in mind and you'll earn the respect of the parents.


If all else fails in dealing with coaches (and players), a technical foul should be called to maintain the integrity of the game and the official's position of authority.


Use these management tools when dealing with parents (and coaches, too).

Your Presence. Presence is a selling tool, so walk confidently with a strong posture. The more authoritative you look, the more accepting people are. The more accepting people are, the less conflict you'll have to manage.

Your Body Language. Consider what your body language says to observers. Good body language (eye contact, a comfortable stance with hands behind your back, a nod to let the coach know you heard the concern) will help you address a coach professionally.

Your Voice. If you decide to address a parent, the way you talk has an impact on the response you receive. Never indulge in verbal retaliation. Be firm, loud enough to be heard, but not challenging. Use your voice to defuse situations, not add emotion. Avoid threats, don't argue and be honest.

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