Officials are one of the most important variables in youth sports. Without them it’s just practice. If your club struggles with retaining your top officials, we have put together some helpful tips to keep your referees returning season after season:
Provide ongoing training and support resources
Officials are always learning. As they continue to gather experience, it is vital for any club or league to provide continuing education resources. Their growth doesn’t stop after they achieve their licensing requirements. Clubs or leagues can continue to provide experiential learning opportunities throughout the season by offering referee clinics, or assigning mentors during gameplay to provide feedback.
Back your officials’ decisions
Clubs or leagues must stand by their officials’ decision-making. Officials must feel confident that they are supported by their assignors or club administrators. This foundation of trust allows officials to accomplish their job without hesitation. When faced with negative behavior, outbursts, or derogatory comments or altercations from coaches or parents, officials must know that they have someone in their corner to back them up.
Be fair with your officials
All of the officials associated with your club or league should be treated with fairness. Assignments should be fairly distributed in volume and by levels of experience amongst your pool of officials. Consider the number of assignments that each official receives, as well as increasing their responsibilities throughout time as they continue to gain experience.
Be competitive with compensation
Becoming a referee can and will be costly. When you factor in equipment, travel, and continued education, officials are faced with many associated costs to accomplish their role. Consider this when evaluating the pay you will assign to your officiating staff. Compensating officials with travel pay, or extra pay depending on level of competition will help keep your top referees coming back to work with your club or league season after season.
Clearly outline behavior policies
Within your club or league, behavioral policies must be clearly defined and advertised consistently. From coaches, to spectators, players and parents, and everyone in between, your club or league should have a grasp of acceptable behavior and etiquette, and repercussions of violating these guidelines. Having these policies or guidelines posted at your facility for all to see helps increase adoption and awareness from your members.
Express your gratitude
Lastly, but arguably most important, is showing gratitude towards your officials. Becoming a referee is rewarding, but at times can be very challenging. It is imperative that you as a club or league show gratitude to your officials for the services that they provide. Providing them water or electrolytes, allowing them to choose snacks from your concession stand, or even sending them a birthday or Christmas gift each year goes past the tangibles that you can provide for your officiating staff.
With these tips and tricks, we hope that your club or league can enhance the relationship between officials and your supporting staff or administration, and boost your officials retention in the long run.
Read more on how to interact with officials.
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