Get the referee onside

Referees are people too. That means, like the rest of us, they’re as susceptible to a bit of psychological engagement that in a 50/50 situation means that they may side with you over your opponent. We’re all familiar with the players and coaches who talk a lot to officials, and they’re not always having an argument. They’re building a relationship.



We really need to acknowledge that they have a hard job on their hands. Read about that here. It’s a very public arena to be making mistakes in. And all referees make mistakes as that is human nature. A good relationship with referees, however, should mean that their mistakes will be less likely to affect you. That could make all the difference come the final whistle.



Here are some tips for your on-field relationships

Flattery gets you everywhere

The first thing you should do is compliment them if they get a call right. We all respond better to compliments, and the response will be better again, if the call is against you or your team. I wouldn’t do this every time, mind. It’s the kind of thing best saved for a 50/50 call and one that is difficult for a referee to make. The world of sport is small, and chances are, that even if it doesn’t give you any kind of marginal gain on that day, it will in future as he/she will be refereeing your team in another match. On that note…

Build rapport

If you see the same referee a few times, make sure you always greet them with a smile and hello. Introduce yourself if you need to. You’d be amazed by how many athletes and supporters who blatantly ignore referees due to decisions made in the past. That will not help your cause in the future. What will help, is that they will view you as an intelligent individual and there’s a greater chance that they will actually listen to you and hear you during a game.

Hi, my name is

Learn their names! It humanises them. It also means that during the game you’ll call them by their actual name and not ‘ref.’ That could grind anyone’s gears.



Did you see…?

Instead of screaming at a referee that they must be blind, ask them when they’re not under pressure, to keep an eye out for certain things. It’s important to remember that this is just one individual trying to keep a rein on teams of people, and sometimes, they genuinely will not notice things until it is pointed out to them. The way to do it is calmly and politely.

Don’t annoy them

What annoys anyone? Whining. Complaining. Don’t do it. You’ll only get their back up. Instead revert to calm explanations of what is not going right for you or your team.

At the end of the day

Shake their hands. It shows sportsmanship and maturity. They’ll remember it, and that brings us full circle back to the earlier point of being mindful of meeting them in future. They’ll have more positive thoughts toward you and your team if their last memory is a good one.