Many coaches spend part of the game each Friday night yelling at officials. No one likes to be yelled at while they are doing their job and officials are human, just like your coaching staff. One of the best things you can do for your team is to foster a good relationship between your staff and the officials. Increasing the respect for these important referees will lead to more respect for the officials by your team and the fans as well.
There is an old saying about catching flies with honey..... your team and community will learn some important lessons and you might just reap the benefits with a little change of attitude toward the way you deal with your officials association.
One of the best things a head coach can do to help prepare his team for the upcoming season is to invite his officials association to be a part of the fall preparation. Officials are preparing for the season just like the coaches and players are.
Here are some ideas to increase the respect between your officials association and your team and staff.
1) Invite the officials to come and call a scrimmage for the team. Give them the opportunity to coach the players and coaches a little along the way. Video the scrimmage and give your association access to the video. This builds an enormous amount of good will. If you happen to be feeding the team afterward, make the officials part of that meal as well.
2) Let the officials talk to the players after the scrimmage or practice. They can cover new rules, things that they have been told to emphasize for the 2021 season and address some problems they have had in the past that can be easily avoided. Give the players an opportunity to ask questions at the end.
3) Get some food and invite some members of your association to come and talk to your coaching staff. Again, they can cover new rules and how they will be called. This is a great time to talk about problems that have occurred in the past, how certainly rules will be called, etc. Coaches and officials should discuss sportsmanship, and how coaches should address certain situations that they might question during the game. Knowing what officials like and dislike and what kind of sideline conduct they appreciate will be valuable information. Knowing what players can do and not do on the field from an officials standpoint will allow you to do a better job of preparing your team. Again, allow your coaches to ask whatever questions and have some great discussion with your association. You may find out that there are some rules that the officials don't care for as well. This is the best way to build relationships with the members of the association.
4) Have a plan to take care of the officials as soon as they hit your campus and let the officials know this plan. Reserve parking for them near their dressing area. Create the best dressing situation for them as you possibly can. Having some snacks, a meat and chess tray, etc and drinks sends a message that the officials are important to the game and you intend on treating them first class.
5) Assign someone to meet them in the parking lot and escort them to their dressing area. Have that individual escort them to and from the field at all times. This could be a policeman or just a big JV coach, but it sends a message that you plan on protecting them while they are at your field.
6) At your parents meeting, talk to them about sportsmanship and treating officials with respect. Let them know that there are state laws in place to protect the officials. Let your officials association know that you have spoken to your parents about sportsmanship and officials.
7) Develop relationships with the individual officials. Learn as many of their names as possible.
8) As the game comes to an end, let them know you appreciate them and that they did a good job.
9) Make your game film available to them for their training purposes.
10) At the end of the season, have the leadership of your association come by and review the season. Get together and work to fix any problems that occurred this season before the next year.