30 second time outs

Monday, April 21, 2008

Coach/Official Relationships - a work in progress!

When I played, my coaches rarely said anything to officials and I always felt they didn't stick up for us. So I set out to be the opposite. Soon I figured that if the other coach got up to "work the official" that I had to match that and "work him" a bit harder. Punch - counterpunch.

Players definitely should not be the ones to EVER talk to an official. The coach needs to be the one doing the communicating, outside of the team captain, who can be a good buffer by building a good on court relationship wit the officials. However, when the coach does talk, he needs to pick his spots. If you chirp all the time (and I did) they stop listening. It could also backfire on the coach. A coaching friend of mine tells a story about a ref that asked him if he thought it was a good call. When the coach proceeded to tell him all of the reasons that it wasn't, the ref said, "then wait 'til you see the next one!"

Officials are human - as much as we wish they weren't. If the only time you talk to them is when you think they missed one - you're going to get a worse performance from the ref than had you said nothing at all. Studies show that people perform better when they experience more positives than negative interactions with others in that environment. Officials are no different. So it is beneficial to take a "kinder, gentler" approach. Help them by keeping your players under control. Ensure quality crowd control, to whatever extent possible. Laugh with them. Back them up when they make a good call by "re-instructing" your player to avoid what they just got called for. Admit when you think that they made the right call against your team. The official will at least *think* that you feel they made a good call.

On the other hand, I'm not sure that they like coaches to say, "good call!" when one goes your way. That implies that you think they made some bad ones. Maybe, tell them, "yes he did" when one of your guys reaches, charges or walks. They'll respect you more. And you *might* get the benefit of the doubt a couple of times.

I also tried to convince myself when we made a couple of nice plays after I had a little tirade that I "fired the team up". Then I realized, while they might have been a little excited for a while, it wore off pretty quickly - just like a fire & brimstone pre-game speech. Wouldn't it be better if we could just get them to play "inspired" all the time? If we have to coerce our team into playing hard by going ballistic, we're not going to be very good anyway. Convince them to play hard every possession - because it is the right thing to do!

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