Coaches and officials have been working the same games in our sport since it began. Respecting each other is a key point that US Lacrosse makes in our training and education programs around the nation. The tough thing is that we have so many egos and battle lines drawn between the two, that working together can sometimes be a pain.
Players can focus on their game better if they do not have to worry about a coach vs. official battle on the sideline. Parents can relax in the stands and trust the game is fair when coaches stop arguing every call. Below are some key points for coaches to remember when dealing with officials. They can benefit the game when used correctly.
Introduce yourself and your staff.
When you first meet the officials before a game be sure you points out your coaching staff. It is better to introduce your staff and build relations than to have the first introduction be a disagreement or bad comment from your sideline.
Speak in general.
Call officials “Mr. Official” or “Ms. Official,” etc. When you call them by their first name, it builds bad blood between the other team and yourself. Even if you are personal friends, speak with respect and in a professional note.
Ask questions before the game, not during.
If you need to know how close officials will call certain parts of the game, whether they look for certain things over others or just need a player’s equipment checked—do so before the game. Once the game starts, the officials are in charge of keeping the game moving and on time. If you are stealing time during the game, it is not going to keep the parties involved happy. Be sure to take the time before the game and not during.
Don’t question a call with insults.
Would you be willing to answer my question if I started it with, “What are you, blind? That was a push!” Chances are, you’re not going to get very far if you utilize insults to start your questions.
Question rule application, not justification.
When you find a call made by an official that doesn’t sit well, be sure you ask how the rule is being applied, not why it was called. When an official makes a call, 99.9 percent of the time they will never reverse the call unless they did not apply a rule correctly. Be sure you are questioning a rule’s application or penalty administration—not just your displeasure with your player being caught red-handed.
Correct: What did you see? I thought he established position before making contact with the other player.
Incorrect: No way was that a moving pick!
Officials manage the game. They make calls, apply the penalties and restart the game. If you feel so wronged by the officials in a situation, call a timeout and discuss it calmly with them on your own time.
Also, remember your manners. Yelling at an official is a conduct foul, not your given right as a coach. I forget that at times as a coach. Don’t make the same mistake.
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