by Jimmy Yoo

“When I am right, no one remembers. When I am wrong, no one forgets.” – Doug Harvey, Hall of Fame Umpire

During competition, referees decision-making is always subject to public opinion. As a result, referees find that they are often criticized and questioned on their decision-making and game-management skills. Good referees can make sporting events flow well and they are able to create a positive environment that is focused on sportsmanship and competition. On the other hand, inefficient referees can make a sporting event seem to drag on because play is constantly being interrupted by fouls or penalties being called, which can also lead to angry coaches and athletes, and unruly fans.

To be successful as a referee, it is important to be proficient in the following areas: game knowledge, decision-makings skills, psychological skills, strategic skills, communication or control of the game, and physical fitness (Guillen & Feltz, 2011).

Game knowledge includes knowing the rules, understanding proper officiating mechanics, and understanding the basic strategy of the game.

Decision-making skills are defined by how quickly and accurately a referee is able to make decisions that include making accurate judgment calls and being firm in one’s decisions.

Psychological skills are defined as focusing attention and concentration, staying cool under pressure, and recovering quickly from making a bad call.  These are almost identical to the psychological skills athletes need, and therefore sport psychology can be beneficial to referees too.

Strategic skills tend to focus on making the right interpretation of the game and its rules. Strategic skills include being able to stay up with the play, being at the proper angles for decisions, and anticipating game actions.

Communication means being able to communicate effectively with players, coaches, and co-officials. Effective communication equates to […]