For officials


Communication Skills

Communicating cross culturally

Key points to consider when communicating with others whose English language skills are limited.


  • avoid jargon and slang
  • use an interpreter to assist in communicating your message
  • explain technical terms
  • keep language simple and use short sentences
  • remember that you are engaged in a conversation rather than just needing to get your message across
  • make it visual if you can
  • check to see that the message has been understood - ask questions and be patient
  • listen attentively
  • recognise diverse communication styles and meanings
  • remember that many languages are structured differently to English and some English terms will not have a direct translation
  • use direct questions - for example, 'Have you finished signing that form?' rather than, 'You haven’t finished that form yet have you?'.


  • shout
  • mumble
  • show impatience
  • speak really slowly
  • replicate the participant’s accent.

Working with other officials

Often officials are appointed to a competition as part of a team, eg. Three referees in basketball, field, boundary and goal umpires in Australian Football, and twelve officials in a cycling race. This includes situations where officials work with another person or a number of people to undertake the officiating role. To be effective in team situations, officials need to demonstrate an ability to:

  • Cooperate with colleagues and others
  • Communicate with colleagues and others
  • Share with colleagues and others
  • Support one another (colleagues)

Cooperation between officials leads to a much smoother running of the competition and conveys to participants and others that the officials know what they are doing and are in control of the situation.

Communication within the ‘team’ prior to, during and after the competition contributes to a sense of certainty for participants and others and reduces the risk of confusion during the competition.

Sharing of information between officials can add to the accuracy of official’s decisions. From time to time, officials are unsighted and might ‘miss’ a decision if it weren’t for a colleague assisting them. Sharing of experiences within a team of officials can assist with the development of colleagues.

Supporting each other, particularly through tough times when the environment can be daunting to the inexperienced official, can add strength to an official’s team.
Depending on the competition, there could be a range of officiating roles that are undertaken to stage the competition. For example, at a swimming meet there is a starter, timers, referee, and recorders. Officials need to cooperate with colleagues for the successful staging of the competition. Each official is reliant on the other. It is important that each is aware of the different roles and the requirements of each official’s role. Communicating and co-operating are two key ingredients which contribute to effective officiating.

Communicating with participants and coaches

Written reports

Written Reports

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Last updated: 14 January 2019

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