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What sports officials REALLY want

Updated: Aug 2

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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