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The Importance of Body Language

Communication is more than listening or hearing the spoken words. While communicating with others, our body language is just as important and powerful as the words that come out of our mouth.

Just like using profane language or a different tone of voice, our body language is just as important as verbal communication. Positive body language can ease a conflict while poor body language can further inflame a volatile situation.

When speaking, stand tall, be firm and confident. Your posture will send a positive impression and will help to get you through a conflict. Look people in the eye, do not look down at the ground as that makes you, insecure, unsure and vulnerable to criticism.

Hands on the hips, crossing your arms in front of your chest and pointing fingers at people shows you as an aggressive person and will usually result in an aggressive response for those you are trying to communicate with. Consider putting your hands behind your back.

As mentioned in a previous paragraph, stand tall, make eye contact, be firm and explain your side of the issue. If your head wonders and your eyes are looking around, you may appear to be intimidated or not interested in what the coach or player is complaining about.

Let’s assume that you have not said a word but your body language shows that you are not happy with the communication you are receiving from a coach or player. The coach or player continues and you raise your hand showing a “Stop” motion. The coach or player continues and you eject them from the field. But you did nothing to spot the affront. Had you approached the coach or player in a professional manner, the heated argument may have been avoided.

Our whistle and/or flag are our universal ways of communicating with players, coaches and fans. How and when we use them is very important to our job and communication skills.
If your whistle is not loud or weak, it sends the message that you are not sure of your call. If it is overly loud or long it may send the message that you are upset, frustrated and personally upset with what just happened. There are times when you need a “quiet” whistle just to stop the game and there are times when you want to make the statement that: “This was not appropriate, it crosses the line of fair and reasonable play and I want it to stop”. Multiple whistles are often not a compromise for a loud long whistle.

An “angry” flag occurs when an official gets overly emotional and “loudly” snaps the flag back and forth or yells at the center official requesting for a call to be made. This is the same as screaming at the players and it appears that that official is upset and out of control.

Finally, when an assistant official raises the flag half way slowly or shows it halfway and lowers it, it shows how insecure that official is about the call. That decision not only makes the assistant look insecure but sets the center official for more criticism because he/she now has more complicated decisions to make. What do I do now? Do I follow the AR’s signal or not or make my own decision based on what I saw happening, and the pressure builds?

Pat Ferre

US YOUTH SOCCER (2021 Volunteer of the Year) USSF Referee Grade 15 Emeritus USSF Referee Instructor USSF Referee Assessor USSF Referee Assignor District-7 Youth Referee Administrator (DYRA)