Are You Using Chief Judges at Your Local Meets?

By Steve Lottes // Maryland Swimming


Steve has worked as a chief judge and team lead at several national meets and at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Trials.
Chief judges not only enhance the professional manner with which we serve our athletes and the coaches at sectional and national meets but are also invaluable at local meets.


Have you ever been the only deck referee at a local mini meet trying to process 50 or more disqualifications in one session?  Despite your best intentions to be completely calm and focused, it can get chaotic.  Now reflect on the same session with two experienced chief judges, coordinated radio protocol, accurately written DQ slips, swimmers notified of the disqualifications and quality mentorship of deck officials.  Chief judges can make it happen.


The chief judge can assist the meet referee with the officials meeting by presenting the briefing, completing deck assignments, discussing rules and jurisdiction, reviewing radio protocol and how DQ slips are completed.  Deck referees can provide support as needed on interpretation of the rules or deck protocol.


Radio protocol is probably the most important skill that a chief judge needs to master.  Effective communication is vital to a smooth running session.  Radio protocol should be rehearsed between the chief judges and deck referee prior to the session.  It’s important to take time when responding to an official who may have a possible disqualification.  With experience, radio protocol becomes more routine and efficient.


Chief Judges are instrumental in helping a new official become a highly qualified stroke and turn judge who enjoys the opportunity to be on deck and to serve as part of the team.  When the chief judge demonstrates that officiating is not only rewarding but purposeful, there is a greater chance that officials will want to come back for an even richer experience that builds character and contributes to our professionalism as officials.

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