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What sports officials REALLY want

Updated: Aug 2, 2020

The catch cry of “we don't have enough officials" can be heard across nearly every community sport around in every corner of the globe.

The number of officials is a simple equation: New officials + Returning Officials

Here we focus on what current officials say they really want and how addressing this may aid in retaining your most experienced officials for longer – and it may not be what you think.

A survey of 4,219 officials in Australia showed that single greatest concern was not abuse, but rather lack of performance or match day feedback. Responses totaling 64% highlighted lack of feedback as a major area for improvement.

This is sentiment is confirmed by a survey of nearly 1,500 rugby referees that showed satisfaction levels of referees significantly improved when they were coached two or more times during a season.

Drilling down on this data, frequency of feedback (38%) is considered more important than the quality of feedback (15%).

Now we know what the greatest area for improvement is in officiating development, addressing this concern presents a significant challenge. With a shortage of officials comes a shortage of coaches of officials.

If officials want more/some match day feedback, we need to be innovative and think how to provide a solution that will meet needs on a local level. Can we call on recently retired officials or suitably experienced current officials to fill the void? Some officiating clubs (aka associations) provide a small payment for the provision of written match day feedback. This is submitted online by the official’s coach providing the observed official a brief written record.

Now that you know what officials want, it’s time to get thinking how you can practically implement this and reduce churn of officials.

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