The following is an excerpt from Basketball Victoria’s Community Coaching Clinic that was run at Frankston Basketball Stadium in April/May 2019.

1. Build Trust and be Polite

You often have the same referee a few times a season so building a rapport with them can go a long way to better results. Not because they’ll favour your team, but, for example, once you develop a rapport with a referee, there’s a far better chance they’ll listen to what you have to say during a game instead of handing out a technical foul.

2. Learn Their Names

Taking the couple of extra seconds before the game to remember the referee’s name’s is important. There’s a big difference between…“Ref! Come on, call the charge!” and calmly saying “Michael, that was a charge from my angle”. Referee’s will be more inclined to talk to you if you address them by their name.

3. Communicate in a level tone

When you NEED to ask a question of the referee do so in a level and professional manner and take your emotion out of the question. Listen to the answer and NEVER nag on and on. Make the point and move on as you have important coaching of players to do.

4. Teach Players how to NOT Respond

Just as players don’t make every shot and coaches don’t make all the right substitutions, referee’s don’t get every call right 100% of the time. The last thing you want is for your players to complain on every missed call and the referee becomes annoyed with your team. Teach your players to NEVER question calls and get on with the game. If anyone breaks this rule and complains then substitute them straight off as this behaviour usually impacts negatively on your team anyway.

5. You Must Adjust to The Referees

Here’s the truth: All referees are different. What they call will depend on how the referee has been taught, what they’ve been taught to look for, where they’ve been taught to stand, what they’ve been taught warrants a foul and what doesn’t, etc. This is especially evident in Junior basketball where the referees are mostly young and are still learning. You’re not going to have NBL/SEABL referees on your games so respect they are learning just like your players are learning.


We must all understand refereeing is an incredibly tough job. All coaches must get used to that, understand that they will sometimes be on the positive side and sometimes on the negative side of the referee’s calls.