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Official to Coach Communication Lesson #1: Speak to Me, I'll Speak To You

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I love Frank Sinatra! His music relaxes me. I listen to him as I take my daily power walks and contemplate an upcoming game or review games from  the past.  On yesterday's walk, I was replaying in my head, a caustic exchange with a coach, when at that very moment, my iPod shuffled to " I've Got You Under My Skin". I laughed at the uncanny timing of this and also at how the song's title appropriately describes officials; feelings about some coaches, and vice versa.

This blog begins a series of lessons learned from my mistakes in dealing with coaches.  I hope that officials and coaches who read this may see some of themselves in these and take heart that we can listen to each other and learn together.

Lesson #1:  Speak to me, I'll Speak to you!

Officials and coaches should speak to each other in a civilized manner, not yell, and certainly not ignore each other.  As simple as this sounds, I am amazed at how we are sometimes unable or unwilling to do so.  I charged a coach with a technical foul after he refused to stop complaining loudly over every call. Later, before tip off in another game, this same coach said to me in a cutting tone, "Talk to me, dont just T me!". My instinctive reaction was to retort "Same to you, Coach!", but I opted for silence instead at the risk of looking retaliatory.  I later asked mentor officials what I should have done. They counseled NOT to ignore the comment, but respond with , "Coach, you speak to me, I'll speak to you!".  By acknowledging the mutual irritation of the exchange in this manner puts both of us on notice that we do not wish to repeat events from previous games.   Officials must take the initiative to establish the appropriate tone for verbal engagement with coaches.  Just a few words offered at the right time, in the right spirit can go a long way to mitigate the chances for a technical foul later.