Dealing with Conflict

Preventing and dealing with conflict

Conflicts for all sports officials is usually a difference of opinions between the officials the coach, the player, the spectators and even the administrators. There are occasions when conflict in the sporting environment is inevitable, however developing strategies to minimise conflict from arising is vital. The following tips recommended by the Australian Sport Commission may assist officials’.

Preventing Conflict:

  • Prevention is always better than cure!  If action is taken early in the game, conflict is less likely to occur
  • Make competitors aware of your presence by reacting immediately to rule infringements (when appropriate)
  • Be definite and firm with decisions and communication
  • Look sharp and act sharp - this will gain respect as an official
  • Don’t take criticisms personally. Remember that coaches and participants are seeing the game from a different perspective to the officials
  • Speak clearly and firmly in heated situations. This will indicate confidence in managing the situation
  • Keep calm


Resolving Conflict:

  • Be professional: Speak clearly and stay composed in heated situations. This demonstrates confidence in managing the situation.
  • Remain calm: Don’t over-react. Stay relaxed and adopt a low-key posture/body language.
  • Address the problem - not the emotions: Try to put aside the emotions of all parties.
  • Focus on the person: Acknowledge a participant with eye contact and use their name if possible. 
  • Be fair: Avoid team or individual bias at all costs. Demonstrating integrity is one of the greatest assets of an official.
  • Be confident and open: Don’t be defensive or try to justify actions. Clarify decisions when appropriate, based on the facts and the evidence presented.
  • Be firm: Deal with unacceptable behaviour firmly and quickly.  Set boundaries in a polite, professional and assertive manner.
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