It’s not easy to admit weakness or own up to making mistakes, especially if you’re a leader. People think that being a leader means being infallible and mistakes are a mark of recklessness or weakness. When this notion gets combined with egos, the fear of making mistakes can keep leaders and their teams stagnant.

As a referee, it’s your job to do what you can to constantly improve yourself and the game you officiate. You can’t properly improve if you don’t give yourself the freedom to take risks, especially if those risks lead to mistakes. Everyone can make mistakes, but only a good leader will be able to embrace those mistakes and move forward from them. Here are some reasons why you should admit to your mistakes.


Crew members don’t expect their leaders to be perfect all the time: they’re more comfortable with a referee who is attentive, honest, and takes initiative without hesitating or faltering. They want someone who can find solutions and keep moving forward from a problem and empower them to do the same thing. This kind of fearlessness is a delicate balance: you need to be able to take calculated risks, anticipate changes, and take action before an opportunity passes, but not be reckless about it. It’s not easy to achieve, and instead of pretending that it is, your crew, players, coaches, and everyone else on the field will respect you more if you’re honest about your shortcomings.


Seeing where you slipped and getting back up can not only strengthen you, but also your team. While you might feel like you’re undermining your own authority by admitting mistakes, hiding them keeps everyone around you from improving. People look up to and want to emulate leaders who can relate to them and have experienced the same problems that they’re having. Admitting mistakes means that all of you can see places to improve and keep each other accountable for preventing mistakes or seeing opportunities in the future.


Leading by example is one of the best ways to lead. Putting yourself out there, even if it means making mistakes, can lead to more engagement from your referee crew members. When you accept challenges, make mistakes, and learn from them, the people around you learn to pick up on your leadership style and observation skills. Seeing you make refereeing decisions or not always having the right answer will empower them, not make them lose your respect: you give them permission to learn, act fearlessly, and grow as referees thanks to your initiative and honesty.


Above all else, you want your fellow referees to trust you, which isn’t possible if you pretend that you never make mistakes. The fact of the matter is that people don’t like surprises: your crew members would rather be on the same page as you, which requires truth and transparency. Being able to see and think about weaknesses out in the open gives everyone the opportunity to solve problems, which leads to innovation not only in the immediate game, but in the future of your careers. You can’t learn from experiences you don’t have, so be open with your referee crew and be a game-changer.

ArbiterSports Referee Training

All referees make mistakes, but the great leaders among them know how to use those mistakes to help themselves, their crew, and the game improve. There will always be more to learn.

The ArbiterSports suite of products is designed to help officials like you stay on top of your game. Whether you’re new to the officiating world and are looking to get your referee training done before you go to the field or a veteran who wants to make sure that you’re on top of rules changes, we can help you feel more sure about yourself no matter what call you make. For a demo or more information on anything we offer, call 800.576.2799 or email