As many of us look forward with optimism for a prompt return to active play, the time for referees to return to the fields may be just around the corner.
There are many preparations associated with being a referee. Some, such as having the proper equipment and being current on the Laws of the Game, are obvious and well known. Less obvious and practiced are the first impressions that officials bring to the match. Whether you are a returning official or a newly licensed one, the impressions brought to and displayed upon arrival at a field can have lasting effects.
Aside from being early and checking the fields and players one should not overlook their meeting with the coaches. When a pre-game meeting is well handled the coach should leave with a sense of trust and respect for the crew. When handled poorly, a game may drag on and on and an official’s questionable decisions/calls may be harder to sell or defend. To build the foundation for a positive and successful meeting, officials should reflect upon and consider the following.
Look and act professionally. Being on time, properly, and cleanly dressed will help make a good first impression. Unpolished shoes, a wrinkled or stained uniform, shirt untucked, and hair uncombed all send the impression that “I am not that interested in the game about to take place”.
Give the impression that you are happy to be there. Approach each coach with a smile, look them in the eye and, if allowed, give a firm handshake. Introduce yourself and your partners. If you already know a coach, be careful not be give the impression that you are overly familiar with him/her as that may give the other coach the impression of potential favoritism.
Keep the pre-game meeting short. During the pre-game discussions be prepared to show confidence while sharing relevant information and answering legitimate questions. Coaches will more likely see you as a credible referee if you show poise, knowledge, and a genuine interest for their teams and the game that is about to be played.