Referee Nuts and Bolts – January 2010

Published on December 31, 2009


By: Bob Sumpter, NISOA, Florida

1. Coaches.

Some Referees seem to have difficulty dealing firmly and objectively with Coach Misconduct.  The perception among some Referees is that a Coach merits special consideration, even if his or her conduct is unacceptable.  Of course, when it comes to misconduct, this is not the correct approach for the Referee.

Among the responsibilities of the team Coaches is that they must set and enforce a standard of conduct among their team members.  As part of that, the Coaches should want to lead by example and set an exemplary standard of personal conduct for their teams to follow.  Coaches who do this as part of their professional duties are most helpful in seeing that the games in which their teams are involved become and remain fair, safe, and enjoyable experiences for their players.

There are, however, some who act differently in games, and not only set an undesirable example for their players, but help contribute to the deterioration of the game’s positive impact of their players.  I have had conversations with a few coaches who said that they actually baited Referees into issuing a Caution to them in order to “get their team fired up.” This is a questionable ethic.

Dealing with Coaches who merit punishment for misconduct is also made more difficult for the Referee who makes his or her aim being invited back to that Coach’s school for future games, and as a result will avoid punishing that coach’s misconduct  in any game.  It’s not hard to recognize a Referee who lets a Coach go too far in exhibiting misconduct beyond the standard that is set by the rules.  That Referee’s game control is usually not good enough, and that Referee’s lack of integrity is usually well known. That Referee’s attitude must be changed.  Otherwise, players will follow the Coach’s example and attempt to “get away with” misconduct unpunished.

Tip:  The Coach has no special privilege when it comes to violating the standard of conduct set by the rules.  Punish those acts of misbehavior as required, promptly, firmly and objectively, as you are expected to do.

Tip: Remember, the Referee is the game official responsible for enforcing all of the rules, including those involving misconduct.  If you do not enforce the rules, you are acting with a compete lack of integrity.

Tip:  Remember, when a Coach dissents with your decisions, he or she is essentially challenging not only your judgment but your authority.  When deciding on whether or not to act, ask yourself “who’s really the boss here? “  When it comes to controlling conduct in a game, one very fast way to losing that control is to avoid dealing with this type of problem.

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2. Moving the Wall.

I am sure that at one time or another you have had a team that sets a wall too close to an opponent’s free kick each and every time a kick is awarded to the opposing team, and you constantly have to get the players to move their wall the required distance from the kick. Some teams use this as a team tactic to set the opponents off their game.

Being able to move a wall of players back needs firm handling in order to set an example of consequences for a possible next attempt.

Tip:  One way is to walk to a spot which is at the required distance, stand there, and motion the players to retreat to a line parallel to you while indicating the spot to where you want the wall reset.  If players refuse to move, then approach the player on the end nearest you and Caution that first player. When finished with that Caution, again indicate where the wall is to move.  If unsuccessful, then Caution the next player in line.  You should not normally have to Caution more than the first player or two to get the desired result.

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3. Another Way to Move a Wall.

Another way to deal with a wall is to try to become familiar with a team tactic of relying on one player to be the regular “organizer” of a wall at an opposing team free kick.

If you sense that a particular player seems to be the regular organizer of the walls used by his team to defend against the opposing team’s free kicks, then you obviously need to deal with that player before others.  It would not make sense to Caution any other player first, as suggested in the previous “tip.”  This is sometimes referred to as “getting the ring-leader.”

Tip:  As stated before, go to the required distance and motion the players to move back to that distance. If that does not work, then go to the player in the wall you have determined is the “organizer”, and issue a Caution to that player.  Assuming that player is indeed the regular organizer of the team’s walls, he or she is now half-way out of the game and half-way to being eliminated as a future misconduct problem.  Should that player now refuse to move back, you have the option to either Eject that player, or move on to Caution the next player in the wall.  It is unlikely you will have to do either, but if necessary, do not hesitate.

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4. Improving Field Skills through Post-game Discussion.

Briefly, among the several sources of information you can use to learn how to improve you field skills, you should consider using the following two as often as possible: (a) the Assessor who observes your game, and (2) the Referee Team with whom you officiate.

To get the most from these two sources you first have to realize that improving your skills requires that you take responsibility for your own efforts to reach your desired level of excellence.

Second, it requires that you keep an open mind to suggestions, and are willing to openly discuss your performance with others without being defensive or skittish about the need for honest discussion of your performance.

You then need to be willing to try out suggestions that come from such discussion.

Tip:  Welcome a full and complete post-game discussion with any Assessor who has observed your game.  Question the Assessor to make sure you get a good understanding of what the Assessor suggests for improvement so that you can plan to try the suggested technique(s) in your next game(s).

Tip: Do not fail to have a post-game conference with your Referee Team so that you can all discuss your observations of each other’s performance and specific game situations that needed to be better handled.  There is seldom a game where something couldn’t have been better handled. Out of an open discussion can come suggestions for all referee team members to help improve future performance.

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