Tips for effective headset communication for referees

The importance of effective headset communication for referees was made extra clear during a recent friendly. It was my first time ever with headsets. In the beginning I had to get used to it, but in the end it went well. This blog gives you some tips to keep your headset communication effective.

Jan with effective headset communication

In The Netherlands lots of games are officiated with club assistant referees. That makes them not suitable for intensive communication, because they are not neutral. This time, however, is different. It is a friendly game and my center referee has headsets. She and the other assistant referee use them more often. Before the game they give me some tips, but  it is difficult in the beginning.

Althought I make the right calls, I realise my sentences are a bit too long. “That ball has crossed the line”. Or: “I can’t see who deserves the throw-in.” Why not say the word “out” in the first example? When it’s not sure who has to throw, there are more and shorter options. Say things like “You, Who? or help”. Despite some agreements before the game, I had to get used to it. That grows. The second half is easier and I notice less or no odd phrases.

The advantages of headsets

  • Better and easier to communicate with assistants with controversial decisions
  • Quicker decision-making
  • Better team work
  • There’s always an option to get advice

Headsets for referees

Tips for effective headset communication

But this first time got me thinking about effective headset communication and here are some clear tips for you.

  1. Keep it short. The less you say, the better you can communicate.
  2. Make agreements before the game about words you’ll use. Which word will you use when you don’t know? Try to avoid different phrases to tell the same. Repetition of the same phrases goes better than using different words with the same meaning.
  3. Ask and give confirmation. It gives a strong feeling if you can confirm a call by the referee. But make sure how you communicate it. With background noise or more people talking, you might miss something. Saying “no foul” is gets a different meaning if the “no” doesn’t come trough. Be smart and say “go on” or “well done”.
  4. Be precise. Saying just the fact that a player fouls his opponent is not enough. “Foul” is not specific enough. Mention who the offender is. Or if two players run after a long ball and one of them was in offside position. A headset gives assistant referees the option to inform the referee about this. Then he or she knows when play has to stop and the flag signal for offside doesn’t come as a surprise then.
  5. Keep talking and communicating. Don’t mention unnecessary things, but what if a player blocks your view. On my blog is a case study with Bjorn Kuipers about this subject. “You can think that you are the referee who has to make the decisions”, says Björn. “I’m close to the situation, why are they talking to me via their headsets. But as referee you should take into account that it’s a possibility that someone suddenly blocks your view.” So keep in contact. If you constantly give advice, you’ll be more alert. A request for information willl not come as a surprise. Check the case study with Bjorn Kuipers.

What are your experiences with headsets? What tips and suggestions do you have for others? Share them, because it will help others!

One thought on “Tips for effective headset communication for referees

  1. Good equipment for the team But for referees and assistants rerferees just starting out they should go back to basics of the referee looking at the assistant and looking for the flag .A lot of money when your are just starting out in the refereeing world . My opinion basics first and then the communication kit later .

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