Ground marshals work on the front line at sporting events dealing with crowd control and conflict situations to ensure the inappropriate actions of a few don't ruin the overall sporting experience for everyone. Just like administrators and officials and coaches, they are an essential part of making sport run smoothly and without incident. But well before they don the shirt for their turn at 'ground marshal' they need to know what they are doing and how to do it...
What does a ground marshal do?
- You are responsible for managing sideline (off field) behaviour
- You support and uphold the principles of fair play
- You wear a vest and represent your club
- You are a complaints receiver, a listener and an enforcer
- You issue warnings the first time a person breaches a code of conduct on the sideline
- You report off-field inappropriate behaviour that contravenes the codes of conduct using formal incident recording and reporting processes
- Facilitate the removal of people where appropriate
- With the assistance of committee members/referees you involve the Police if the situation escalates beyond your control.
For further information see Fact Sheet 1: 'Who is responsible for dealing with an incident'.
What do I need to know?
You need to thoroughly understand:
- Your club/association codes of conduct/behaviour for parents, players, coaches and officials
- The degree to which ground marshal's can enforce club/assoc rules on non-members
- Your club/association processes for reporting incidents
Tips for conflict resolution
- Don't become emotionally involved
- Acknowledge the person's anger up front
- Listen to what the person has to say and ask questions
- Give the person space
- Remain calm and confident (don't yell or interrupt)
- Be aware of the tone of your voice and the type of language you use
- Use non-aggressive body language and facial expressions (e.g. don't point your finger, don't stand with your hands on your hips)
- Be patient
- Summarize the situation as you see it
- Give realistic choices/work towards a solution
- If the conflict turns physical, don't get involved – call the Police immediately.
For further information see Fact Sheet 2: 'Resolving conflict steps (Stop, Look, Listen, Respond)'.
The following scenarios are designed to show you situations that might arise at your own club. Click on a scenario below to find out more.
- Spectator threatens referee - A referee receives threats from a spectator and stops the match to report the matter...
- Parents abuse referee - A coach takes appropriate steps to stop parents abusing a referee...
- Player taunts opposition - A player uses racial taunts to stir up trouble but a referee is quick to respond...
- Parents chastise young player - A parent is horrified at the behaviour of a group of parents towards some young players...
- Verbally Abusive Coach - highlights the issue and the challenges the club needs to consider to address this behaviour.
There are a number of people in sporting clubs that deal with conflict situations and complaint handling issues. Following are a range of resources to increase your skills and confidence in this area:
- See the 'About Complaints' section and the 'Complaint Handling Tool' to test yourself with real-life complaint scenarios.
- Complete training modules from the ASC's Complaint Handling Course ('Nipping it in the Bud' and 'Listening and Responding').
- Educate yourself by reading relevant articles on the Play by the Rules website, for example: what to do 'When good parents turn ugly', how to manage 'Players who behave badly', and 'Tips for resolving conflict in sport'.
- Watch the YouTube videos: 'Ugly Parents and Abuse of Umpires'