The number one thing to remember as a coach, parent, or even as a player is that there will be bad calls. Officials are human, and humans are not perfect. Many youth sports have inexperienced or volunteer officials that are just trying to do the best job that they can do, but even the most experienced officials miss calls and make mistakes. Understanding this will help you respond with patience and calm when there are bad calls.
As a coach, I always reminded my players not to worry about things they could not control, like calls by the referee. This is good advice for coaches and parents alike. The best way to handle a bad call is to ignore it and move on no matter who you are.
Enjoy The Game
As a parent, you attend your child’s activities to support them and enjoy the games. Don’t let bad calls ruin your fun. When an official makes a mistake or misses a call, let it go and focus on the game. Spend your energy encouraging your child and the rest of the team. Getting angry about bad calls and yelling only angers the officials, embarrasses your child, and leaves you frustrated. Set a good example for your child, be calm, and let the coaches handle any bad calls.
Focus On Your Job
Don’t let bad calls distract you from your job. Your players, and the game at hand, need your focus and your attention. If you worry about every missed call, you will be less effective as a coach. As a general rule, ignore the bad calls.
However, there may be situations when you need to communicate with the officials. Perhaps there are more calls against your team than what would be normal, or the referees are not in control of the game, and you feel that your players may be in danger due to over aggressive play. These are a few times when talking with an official is important and appropriate.
Officials don’t like coaches who complain non-stop. So it’s important that throughout the game, and the season, you have a calm demeanor. This also sets a good example for your players. As a coach, I rarely expressed anger with a referee, but when I did ask to talk to them, or raise my voice, they understood that I meant it because it was out of character.
Ask A Question
If you feel that too many calls are going against your team or maybe a lack of calls is putting your players in danger, then you may need to talk to an official. The best way to do this is to ask them a specific question during a break. Check-in with them when there is a timeout or during a more relaxed part of the game when they pass by you on the court or playing field.
Ask your question in a calm purposeful voice. Keep it simple and to the point using a positive tone, and you will be more likely to get a good response.
- Can you help me to understand the last call?
- What can we do differently so that we don’t get that call in the future?
- Can you watch 22, they’ve been holding?
Know The Rules
As a coach, it’s important to know the rules of the sport that you are coaching. Even if you know the sport well, make sure that you are up-to-date as rules do change from season to season. Understanding the rules will help you to better understand the calls.
Sports are fun, and they teach young athletes life lessons. What to do when things don’t go your way, is one of those lessons. When there are bad calls, and there will be bad calls, it is your job (as a coach or a parent) to help young athletes learn to be cool-headed when conflicts arise. To control what they can control, stay positive, focus on the game and most of all, have fun.