Teamwork is essential for anyone involved in sports, whether you’re an athlete on the field or the officiating crew on the sidelines. Everyone that’s out there knows what to do and what their responsibilities are, but what can we do for our crews to make sure that the right calls are made?

The team at ArbiterSports thought that sports officiating magazine Referee scored with “The Secret of ‘Officiating Up’.” Their secret to being a leader for your crew? Learn from American business leaders and lead—or, in our case, officiate—up to ensure success and enjoyment for everyone.

Why Crew Members Might Stay Quiet

A leader would be nothing without their crew, so why might some crew members stay quiet when their opinions could be useful—or even change a call completely? Whether you’re a new official or a veteran, it’s a matter of uncertainty. You might not be sure if you have something right: we’ve all had those moments where we saw something a little differently than the rest of the crew, because of your position on the field or the angle you saw something from. You might be scared of your boss or team leader. You might be afraid of getting sanctioned.

In these cases, some crew members choose to stay silent rather than make the right call: while it’s better to miss something than to call something wrong, referees still have a responsibility to do what they can to get things right. The right leadership style will help your team speak up when it counts.

Where and When to Officiate Up

Any time you can take the steps you need to in order to call something properly is a good time to officiate up. Those times when you have rookie crew members, someone inadvertently blows a whistle on a play when they shouldn’t have, or when the crew is otherwise intimidated are good times to step up.

Look for opportunities to lead during play and during crew discussions. You might have to stop the action of the game or prod your crew members a bit to encourage discussion, but when your goal is to get things right, silence isn’t the answer.

How to Officiate Up

Start officiating up by knowing the rules of your game and keeping yourself in good mental shape. Absolutely prepare for the game ahead of you, but make a point of regularly studying your rules, even when it’s in the off season. Taking time off is necessary to stay healthy, but knowing your stuff will help you be a confident leader.

When you get to the game, start building a rapport with your crew, especially if it changes. Introduce yourself, call everyone by their names, and have meaningful engagement with them that includes polite dissent. You all have a common goal and can learn something from each other.

Ask for help when you need it! Officials who think that they know all of the rules when they don’t are some of the toughest to deal with, and it’s another thing to let them get away with it. Great officials know their limits and recognize when they need help rather than fake their way through it.

Above all else, remember that your goal is not to rub elbows or getting to the next tier of officiating: it’s about making sure the game is officiated properly. Give everyone the tools they need to achieve that goal by officiating up.

ArbiterSports Leads Referees to Success

A big part of being a leader is knowing your skills, and when it comes to referee training, we can help you with that. We at ArbiterSports know about being leaders and pioneers: we’ve been developing technology for game officials and organizers since 1984, and we’re proud to keep that legacy moving forward. Whether you need help managing pay day or game day, we have something in our suite of products that can help you stay in the game. For more information or demos, call 800.576.2799 or email