Archive for the ‘referees’ Category

Referees Are Teachers Too

April 25, 2010

I recently published a post with the title, “All Adults Are Teachers.” That post was geared more to coaches and parents who needed a reminder of the awesome responsibility adults have in teaching our kids and that some of our actions, though unintended, may be sending the wrong message to our kids.

Carrying on with the notion that it “Takes a Village to Raise a Kid,” it is important to remember the role of the referee. Sure the main responsibility of the referee is to officiate the game. But when officiating games that involve …

  • Young players
  • Players who don’t have a lot of soccer experience
  • Players who are being coached by someone with little soccer knowledge

… referees should also assume the role of on-field teacher.

There are many teaching moments and opportunities for referees to set a good tone for a game.

  • It is important for all players, as well as coaches and parents, to understand the rules and violations of the game and why a certain call is made. When I blow my whistle, I like everyone in the immediate vicinity to know why I did it.
  • The offside law is particularly difficult to understand. When I make this call, I always try to let the nearby players know why I made the call and which player was in the offside position. Sometimes I will tell a player I’m close to when he/she is in an offside position.
  • Be quick and decisive on all calls. Don’t leave the teams and fans wondering who the foul was on. Point as quickly as possible in the direction that the ball should played.
  • Be animated. If there is a bad throw-in, make sure to mime the infraction by raising your back foot off the ground.
  • Don’t enforce all infractions, especially with young players and when no advantage has been gained. Let the first infraction slide but remind the players that the ball must be played forward on a kick off and that both feet need to remain on the ground on a throw-in.
  • If a player does not know what to do with ball once the whistle is blown, make sure to be close enough to the action to be of assistance. I don’t like it when a referee can help speed up the game by helping but chooses not to.
  • Care about what you are doing. Run and always be in position. You’ll make the right calls more often and you will show the players that you are working hard just like them.
  • Have fun! Fun is contagious.
  • Talk to the players. Don’t talk only about fouls or infractions. Tell them, “Nice pass” or “Good defense” or “I like your sportsmanship.” Validate the positives.
  • Teach and educate but never be condescending. Don’t be a know-it-all.

Though they may not agree with all of your calls, players, coaches, and fans will appreciate the effort to help everyone understand the game better. In doing so, you will gain the players’ and adults’ respect and refereeing will be that much more joyous and rewarding.

Coin Toss Alternatives

October 19, 2009

I came across an interesting newspaper article entitled, “Heads or Tails? It Depends on How You Flip It,” in the October 18, 2009 Sunday edition of the Contra Costa Times. The authors Jon Wilner and Mark Emmons reference a study conducted by Stanford and UC Santa Cruz researchers that claim that a coin toss may not be a 50-50 proposition if you know which side is facing up when the coin is tossed. The study claims that the probability of guessing correctly could be as high as 60%.

I can definitely see this hypothesis being correct but I’m guessing it would be more in the 52% – 54% range. That is assuming, of course, that the referee does not catch the coin and flips it over before revealing heads or tails.

This got me thinking about alternatives to coin tosses. Once I could not find a coin so I took a blade of grass and hid it in one of my hands behind my back. The player had to guess which hand the grass was in. And the other day, my son did not have a coin so he had the captains ‘row-sham-bow’ (rock-paper-scissor). The nine-year old boys seemed to enjoy that interaction.

The best alternative I’ve come across and have used on several occasions is the odd-even guess. This is how it works:

  • I put my watch on stop-watch mode and start the timer. The time displays to the nearest hundredths.
  • I show the captains what I’ve done and tell the captains who would normally call the coin toss to pick ‘odd’ or ‘even’.
  • After he/she chooses, I stop the watch and whatever the last digit is determines which team ‘won the toss.’

I know this goes against what FIFA would like the referees to do, but at least it is a 50-50 proposition … I think.


Referee the Way You Would Want Your Game Refereed

October 1, 2009

I have many, many pet peeves. When it comes to refereeing, my biggest is when a referee or assistant referee (AR) simply does not put forth the effort.

I would like to see all referees recite the following oath before receiving or renewing their referee license: I will referee all games the way I would want my games refereed. If you can’t or don’t believe in this, then you should not be a referee.

I understand many referees may never have played soccer or will never play. That’s OK. Then these referees should recite this backup oath: Soccer players, coaches, fans, and my fellow colleagues deserve 100% of my effort each and every time I referee a game.

Nothing upsets me more than when I see young, able-bodied referees and ARs officiate from the center of the field or in only one position on the touchline. There is no way you can properly and consistently call fouls, out-of-play, throw-in direction, or offside without being in the proper position. As a center referee, it is not necessary to always be on top of the play but the effort needs to be there. As for ARs, there is no excuse for not being in line with the second-to-last defender. If you are unwilling or incapable of putting forth this effort, then you should not be a referee.

The following is some advice I have received or believe strongly in:

  • Don’t officiate too many games per day. While you may be physically fit, the mind tends to wander after a while. 3 games per day is normally plenty.
  • Try to learn something new or improve in some way every time you referee. This will keep you focused and motivated.
  • Be in shape

What other advice to do have?