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The Coach – Official Relationship

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1 The Coach – Official Relationship
James P. Gross PIAA District 2 Basketball Rules Interpreter

2 Understanding Why There Is Tension
Coaches have a VESTED INTEREST in the OUTCOME of the contest, whereas Officials do not. We certainly BETTER NOT… Officials have a goal of maintaining a Competitive Balance of Opportunities – “Fairness” – dictated by the participants SKILL LEVEL for that particular game, on that particular night. Therefore, the 50% correct theory is invoked…every time the whistle blows, someone is going to be happy, someone is going to be irritated.

3 Who’s Involved Here, Anyway?
The Professional Coach is not…high priced, short term The Collegiate Coach is not…high priced, longer term We are dealing with a High School Coach, a Mentor, a Teacher, a Supporter, a Role Model, and someone who does this for the love of the game, and the love of his / her players. This generally is not someone who makes their livelihood by coaching high school basketball. These Coaches are often teachers, or often retired altogether. Sometimes they are business people from the local town. In any event, these Coaches are not paid the big money that professional and collegiate coaches earn. Therefore, we need to keep that in perspective as well.

4 Ok, But Who’s In Charge? Officials jurisdiction begins at the 15:00 mark prior to the start of the Contest, and ends when all officials leave the confines of the playing floor. Officials work as a Crew, not as two or three individuals, and that Crew is in charge of the contest. The Referee is in charge of that particular Crew on that particular game. The Coaches are in charge of their respective teams, not the contest. HOWEVER, we must ALWAYS work together, within the Rules, with the Coaches and the Players involved. Remember that the High School game of Basketball should focus on the Players, those Student-Athletes that are participating.

5 What’s the Most Frustrating Thing?
To Coaches, it comes down to their expectations that Officials are first and foremost knowledgeable on the Rules of the Game. Secondly, Coaches expect you to be in the best position to give you the best opportunity to make the correct call. Coaches also expect you to communicate with them appropriately. Frustration sets in immediately if ALL of these are not handled by the Officials. To Officials, it’s the tainted negative feedback throughout the contest that emotional Coaches display or verbalize. The Solution seems to always be CONSISTENCY. If a call is expected, there is less negative emotion. INCONSISTENCY drives Coaches NUTS.

6 Resolution for that Frustration
Officials need to be Rules Experts. Period. There is NO reason all of us should not be Rules Experts. Officials need to stay in good enough physical condition that allows them to work the level to which they are working, to get the best angles, to be in the best position to make the proper call. Officials need to communicate APPROPRIATELY with the Coaches. Rarely respond to a STATEMENT, always acknowledge a QUESTION, but NEVER lose your cool or say anything you will most definitely regret later. Most times, the Coaches just want to know you are aware of their presence.

7 Who Are We Anyway? First of all, Officials are Human Beings. We do miss calls, and we do get trapped or straight-lined on occasion. Just don’t make a habit out of it. And when Coaches yell and scream to you about a call, keep in mind they are generally talking “to the striped shirt.” Don’t TAKE it Personal, and never MAKE it Personal. Most of us do this as an AVOCATION – a hobby, or a minor occupation -- not a VOCATION, defined as employment or main occupation. Officials do not take the floor hoping to do a bad job. We all want to work hard and put our best effort forward. We want to have a great game, and we also want the game to be great.

8 Avoid the Mistakes You Can Control
NEVER Solicit games from a Coach, Athletic Director, or School Personnel. If you’re THAT GOOD, you don’t have any Open Dates anyway. Stay away from Coaches prior to the contests. If you see them, be courteous, say “Hello,” even shake their hand. Then get out. Invariably, as soon as you put your arms around the Coach, the opposing Coach is looking right at you. For 32 minutes that day, you can’t be Friends with the Coach. You have a job to do, one that involves clear, precise thinking. We don’t officiate the names on the uniforms. If you can’t separate your friendship with a Coach, you should scratch him / her. Work somewhere else.

9 Helpful Hints… Never get defensive with a Coach over a call. Body language says a ton about you. Remain Calm, Cool and Collected. “Coach, you may be right, but I stand by my call.” Proper communication also involves being a good partner to others in the Crew. Coaches will often try to drive wedges to gain an advantage. Become a Rules EXPERT…BE that guy or gal. Your confidence will soar, and your stock will rise. That, my friends, is a promise. Proper Play Calling and knowledge of the Rules increase Coach and Player confidence in you. THAT’S what they want, so GIVE IT TO THEM.

10 Final Thoughts… Work every play in every game in every season.
Try to avoid “Refereeing on the Move.” Know what’s happening around you, and get to the proper spot before the contact so you can best accept the play. Don’t ever discount the value of a thorough pre-game conference, and include discussion on the Coaches. It’s THAT important. We are getting paid to work games, which makes us Professionals. Be a Professional. Be the guy or gal that others seek out. Be a leader, a mentor, and yes, to other Officials, YOU be the COACH.

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