Coaches Who Officiate

Officials Who Coach


Officials who coach should hold themselves to a higher standard. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.


The perception is that as a general rule, coaches who officiate do it well, they understand the importance of being in position and working hard.


Coaches who are also referees know the line and when they cross it … they are very aware, since they know the rules better than most. There are many examples of coaches who also officiate who routinely cross the line.

There is a brotherhood/sisterhood among officials, those who wear both hats know what it is like to work in both arenas. Because those coaches who also officiate have felt the wrath of any angry coach, you would think they would empathize with their brothers or sisters. But, for some reason, we have coaches who puff up and take officials on because they want to show up the officials with their knowledge.

That’s certainly not the expectation. The expectation should be one of respect — shown by both parties — especially those who coach with an officiating background.


Indeed, many coaches turn to officiating in order to help their coaching abilities. It immediately makes you a better coach, you understand what the officials are looking at.


There is a need to hold yourself to a higher standard as a coach because you officiate,as a coach who officiates you should never berate, yell at, or try to show up an official — one, because it lacks professionalism and, two, it does no good.


The brotherhood of officials isn’t lost . Many of the officials who work with coaches who officiate, and as coach that official who antagonized and yelled at officials, it would be tough to work with and be in partnership with those officials later on the court.


Officials who coach recognize more quickly if an official is mechanically sound, in position, knows the rules, often in conversation with an official they are able to ask questions which make them think and realize that they know their trade.


Unfortunately, at times, that knowledge can also lead a coach to let the official know in no uncertain terms about their personal experience on the court — and use that power structure to try and intimidate or sway the referee on their game.


Most officials can withstand the questioning (or arguing) of a judgment call, but when the coach stands and informs the official that a rule has been clearly missed, and the coach knows that because they know the rule, it can put any official on wobbly knees for the rest of the game.


We should be disgusted by all coaches who act out, not just coaches who officiate.


Coaches who officiate should ask only the right questions to let the official know he is a knowledgeable coach, without trying to pull the “I wear stripes” card.


All coaches/officials should be held to a higher standard — forgiving the errors of your players and officials — unless it becomes habitual and unfair.


Still, it happens, all too often, the coach/official crosses the line.


The Coach/official dynamic puts everybody in an interesting position, it’s impossible to take off one hat for another completely, but in that case, the coach/official must be held to a higher standard. It doesn’t mean the coach/official is not going to have a difficult discussion with a referee, but they hold their self to a higher standard.


The ego is a powerful thing. Many a coach is known for lacking impulse control when it comes to arguing a call, but when you add ego to the mix? The normal “you missed that one!” can quickly become “I’m a better coach than you and I’m a better official than you!”


Now the quandary is in place — if it’s just a coach popping off, we are trained to control the bench (while still allowing for the emotions of the game to come through within reason).


What do you do if it’s a fellow brother or sister in stripes? Especially if it’s someone with more experience than you, or in some cases, a mentor and supervisor.


That’s when we have to check our own egos, because the situation can go either way, from “You are not better than me!” to “Oh my gosh, he’s so much better than I am, I can’t throw him out, he probably got the play right.”


It comes down to this: When you are a coach/official , you have one job. It doesn’t matter if you’re a doctor in real life, or a cop, or a fireman. Unless there’s a need for CPR, crime stopping, or fire prevention, you are just a coach/official. Keep your discussions to the game at hand, to the play, to your team.


And vice-versa. If you’re an official who has had wings with the coach as an officials association member in the past, everything up to that play is history. Forgotten. You also have one job — apply the rules, control the benches and players, and most of all, yourself.


The ego goes in your back pocket. Past history or other “hats” you might wear stay in the car. Do your job no matter who is in front of you. Do it the same way every time.


Who can argue against that?


Not the coach, not your supervisor, and certainly not the person in the mirror. No matter what hat that person is wearing.

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