Referee Nuts and Bolts – May 2010

Volume 15,”Referee Nuts and Bolts”, May 2010.

By: Bob Sumpter, NISOA, Florida

This monthly column is written primarily for the college and high school soccer Referee. However, any soccer Referee who wishes to improve personal performance may also find that this series is helpful.

All articles address those BASIC techniques, procedures, practice alternatives, and skills that are sometimes forgotten or overlooked while going through the experiences of soccer refereeing.  The short discussions and accompanying practical tips stress important advice for competent performance.

The May 2010 column includes discussions entitled:

15-1, “Being the Authority Without Being Authoritarian”

15-2, “The Coin Toss”

15-3, “Analyze Your Past Ejection Reports.”

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15-1, “Being the Authority, without being Authoritarian”

By: Bob Sumpter, NISOA, Florida

Being able to control the behavior of participants in a college or high school soccer game depends upon more than Referee skills and information. Often successful performance involves the attitude a Referee develops and displays to the participants in the games refereed. How you treat participants can well make the difference between a well-managed game and a disaster,

Of course, the Referee needs to be the main authority on the field as far as the course of the game and participants behavior is involved.  (The rules stress that our decisions are final as far as the game result is concerned; that-to me- includes all decisions and actions, both discretionary and non-discretionary.) To me, being the authority, as stressed in the intercollegiate and interscholastic soccer rules, means being knowledgeable, accurate, and using common-sense in application of rules, and dealing with players on a firm, fair, objective basis. It also means being respectful and civil to all concerned no matter how intense or competitive the game becomes. To portray this attitude the Referee must always display confidence, poise, and in control of his/her emotions. Being even-tempered in voice, approach to participants, in our bearing, and civil in what and how we address ourselves to others is a must. All these expressions of attitudes and feelings need to be displayed regardless of how excited, loud, upset, and downright angry a player, coach, or bench personnel might be at during any incident during a game.  Much of this we learn through experience as we continue to referee a growing number of games during a refereeing career. Some of this we also learn through application of common-sense when developing our individual refereeing styles.

Being “authoritarian” is a the display of an attitude that usually produces a negative result. This type of Referee behavior needs to be avoided. Mistaken “authoritarian” attitudes we sometimes see displayed are: when a Referee deals with participants by using debasing or demeaning actions or words, by tactless handling of participants in heated situations, by attempts to show participants how little they really know as compared to the Referee when arguing or debating a decision, and like inappropriate Referee behavior. Sometimes this “authoritarian” attitude comes through in how we speak to a participant in an effort to correct or punish inappropriate behavior, such as using a raised voice to admonish. Other times it can be shouting or gesturing at a participant. And yet another might be an act that attempts to embarrass the participant. There is no real justification for these types of inappropriate attitude demonstrations, since – it seems to me – that better results can be attained by more civil means.

Tip: Analyze your style of refereeing objectively. Try to identify past instances of treating participants where a better attitude on your part could have gotten a better game control result. Set a goal of trying a better approach in future participant control incidents.
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15-2, “The Pre-game Coin Toss”

The pre-game coin toss is largely ceremonial.  Traditionally the Referee conducts the coin toss, and the team captains participate.

In  the college game the rules (2009) only specify that the choice of ends or the kickoff be determined. A coin toss is repeated if overtime becomes necessary.

High school game rules (2009) specify a pre-game procedure that includes a conference with both head coaches and team captains to: (1) review pertinent rules, (2) address good sportsmanship , (3) conduct a coin toss with team captains to choose a goal or defend or to kick off first, and (4) enquire of both coaches if all players are properly equipped.

The complete Referee Team for the game should participate in the coin toss. Experience suggests that long pre-game sessions are not a good idea, so yours should be kept to the minimum to meet the requirement in the rules.  Trying to hold a rules clinic, or spending a lot of time explaining detailed rules won’t sink in with players who are having normal pre-game nerves and itching to get the game going.  As an example, you can at times sense players’ nervousness when they dance and gyrate around while you address them at the pre-game coin toss.  If you give long-winded instructions for the captains to carry back to their waiting teams the information will often be lost between the coin toss site and their teams.

At times, team Captains might pose questions about rules. If so, keep your answers brief .

By all means if you are required to give mandatory statements under the rules, do so.  But confine your remarks to only those.

Tip: Try to keep the coin toss ceremony as short and business-like as possible.  Do not add any instructions to those required by the rules.  Certainly, do not conduct a rules clinic.

Tip: Do include the Referee Team in the coin toss group, and introduce them to the representatives of both teams.

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15-3, “Analyze Your Past Ejection Reports”

As suggested when your past experience with Cautions was discussed, it’s also a good idea to keep copies of all past ejection reports from your most recent season or year. They can be invaluable as an aid to help you learn improved game control techniques or approaches.

Ejection reports are particularly useful to study because they usually involve very serious incidents (serious enough to send a participant from the field and vicinity for the rest of that game!)

At least once a season you should review and analyze your ejection reports to see if any of the incidents could have been handled better.

Your aim should be to better learn how to make an ejection count!

Tip:  One of the more common ways to analyze is to think over each incident described, remember what and how you reacted to the incident, and try to remember if your action was effective in getting the game to get back to a decent level of behavior and control. If not, you can speculate (and discuss with fellow Referees) how you might better handled the incident, and how you might have better made the ejection procedure more effective.

Tip: One question to ask yourself while reviewing any particular incident is: “Should an earlier Caution that preceded this incident have been an Ejection, in order to recognize and remove an apparent game control problem?”

Tip: Also, another question you may ask yourself is: “Did I handle an earlier Caution to the individual(s) involved well enough to discourage later misbehavior that led to the ejection?” In remembering the incident in question you may well come up with the observation that you should have been able to see the incident developing sometime before the ejection, and possibly been able to prevent it by quicker action on your part.

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