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How to Treat Referees

“If you get too engrossed and involved and concerned in regard to things over which you have no control, it will adversely affect the things over which you have control.” - John Wooden

Coaches often tell players to focus on “controlling their controllables” in practices and games. It is an important reminder for players, as their time and energy should be focused on areas within their control, such as their preparedness, punctuality, effort, attitude, and how they respond to ups and downs of a game. Focusing on areas outside of their control, such as the weather, the opponents, the fans, or the referee only serves as a distraction and does not contribute to the desired outcome of a match. 



As we begin the fall 2019 season, players, parents, and coaches should all take a moment to reflect on “controlling their controllables,” especially with respect to the referees. We cannot control the experience level, demeanor, and decisions of referees. We can only control how we interact with them and our reactions.


When a referee makes a call that you disagree with, consider your non-verbal and verbal reactions. Consider what message those reactions send to the players, coaches, referees, opponents, and others at the match. Consider the environment that it creates on the sideline. Rather than yelling at the referee or throwing your hands in the air, try to take a deep breath and remember that those reactions only serve as a distraction, and they do not contribute to the desired outcome of the match. 


We can’t control the referees, but we can control how we interact with them and how we react to their decisions.