I was watching a you tube video of a master test last week. During the honor, the handler was kneeling next to his dog and picked up a small branch off the ground - 8-10 inches long and maybe 1/8 inch in diameter. He began breaking pieces off of it throughout the marks being thrown and working dog released.
I suspect it was just nerves on the handler's part, but then I know many a dog who knows what is 'expected' when they see a 'stick like' object in the hands of their handler.
If you were a judge and saw this, what would you do?