I follow very few hard and fast rules when I officiate. I prefer to maintain a high level of adaptability and flexibility so I can appropriately handle whatever situation comes my way. One of the hard rules I follow is that I do not respond to statements from coaches.
Note that I do not respond to statements. I will give my best answer to any question I get asked, but statements fall on deaf ears. All I do when a coach makes a statement to me is say, “OK coach,” just so he knows I’m not ignoring him. Many times a coach wants to vent to the closest official about a particular call, and all he wants is confirmation that you heard what he said. I see too many officials getting into unnecessary conversations with coaches while a game is in progress.
Here is an example of an official hearing too much from the sideline:
Coach: “You missed an offsides.”
Official: “Coach, there was no advantage gained so I didn’t call it.”
Coach: “You haven’t called offsides all game!”
Official: “Calm down coach.”
Coach: “Don’t tell me to calm down! Just make the #$&^ offsides call!”
Official: Throws flag for conduct foul
The worst part about the above exchange? The official on the field turned away from the game to look at the coach during their conversation. All the official did is walk a coach down the path of a conduct foul while not looking at the play in front of them.
If the official had only said, “OK coach,” he would have confirmed the coach’s gripe and ended the conversation by acknowledging what the coach had to say. The official made things worse by telling the coach to calm down. Saying calm down might be the single worst thing to say to an angry person. So the coach got angrier, cursed at the official and the official conducted the coach. All because the official responded to a statement.
If a coach has a question we are in different territory. Unanswered questions really piss coaches off so don’t blow off questions. If you can’t answer it because the ball is live tell the coach, “I’ll get back to you at the next dead-ball.” If it is a dead ball or between quarters when the question is asked then answer it as best as you can. If the coach starts making statements after your answer, wait for the coach to take a breath and ask, “Coach do you have another question for me?” If he does not then tell the coach you need to talk to your partner and disengage from the conversation.
Make it your policy to not get in deep responding to statements. Take your time with questions to ensure that everyone is on the same page, but when it comes to statements don’t worry about them. You’ve got more important things to worry about in front of you than some coach saying “you missed one” behind you.