It’s safe to say that referees don’t often get a lot of love on the basketball court. They can be blamed for bad calls, and sometimes even costing one team a game, even if that blame is unwarranted. Basically, the refs are frequently the scapegoats of sports, but they’re also an important part of any basketball game. Yes, they do occasionally make a bad call, and it can feel cathartic to scream at a referee if you’re a fan, but it is always a bad idea if you’re a coach.


Yelling at a referee as a coach not only distracts you from properly coaching your team, but it sets a bad example if you’re coaching children or young adults. Losing your temper could also result in unnecessary fouls and penalties.

Treating Referees With Respect

No matter how well or poorly a game is going, or how much you think the referee is to blame for anything that happens, you need to treat all refs with respect. This means speaking to them as fellow professionals on the court instead of yelling at them in a disrespectful manner. It means confronting them calmly and rationally if you don’t agree with a call that they made. You might even want to speak with them before the game starts.

Find out what their names are so that you can better communicate with them and make it very clear that you wish to remain professional no matter what happens during or after the game. They will then be far more likely to listen to you in the event that you do have an issue with a call that they make, and far less likely to penalize you and your team for poor conduct. Once again, all of this is especially important if you are coaching young children. The last thing you want is to teach a young athlete that it is okay to disrespect his or her peers in any situation on the basketball court.

Successful, professional coaches understand that the referee is an important part of any basketball game, and one needs to respect their calls at (nearly) all times. You will find that most referees are perfectly fair, and any bad calls that they make will be due to honest mistakes. When bad calls do happen, don’t take it personally. Focus on your team and winning the game through skill and teamwork, not by complaining when a foul is called against one of your players and making wild accusations toward the referee.