Officiating in Australia and elsewhere, tend to have a high rate of turnover, particularly at the grass-roots level of sports, some as high as 50-60% and 30% overall.
Retention and long term commitment is actually depended upon their perception of how the organisation supports them. This means the degree to which officials believe the Sporting Organisation values their contribution as well as caring about their well-being and helping them fulfill their role with respect to them being an official.
Several factors are believed, to combine, to cause the high turnover rate. Not all things are in your sports control eg. An official’s obligations to their full-time career or job take priority over officiating, or for a young official entering tertiary education in another state for the first time and they don’t know how to contact the new organisation or don’t have the time or energy to continue. However the following factors sports do have control to make the officiating environment suitable and enjoyable.
- Poor support mechanisms in place by clubs and sporting associations (i.e. lack of ongoing training, support, recognition).
- Too much time away from family, friends and social activities.
- Low pay or insufficient reimbursement for personal expenses.
- Fear of liability and other legal issues.
- Lack of opportunities to advance as an official.
- Mental and physical stress (i.e. injury or too high a workload) that may lead to burnout.
- For young officials poor sportsmanship exhibited by players (i.e. verbal abuse, etc.) or not getting paid regularly/on time.
- Pressure to perform at a high level of proficiency.
Perception of organisation support can best be achieved in the following ways:
- Clear, transparent and objective evaluation of your officials.
- Human resource investment are you committing to your officials
- Opportunities to be included in the relevant decision making process
- Organisational commitment to formally implement officiating development
- Are there formal or structural recognition mechanisms in place within your organisation e.g. official committee, someone from officiation on your board
- Providing awards that recognise their contribution to your sport’s organisation
- Clear policies and procedures with respect to the advancement of your officials
See below for a few tips that will help to retain officials for your organization;