Referee Nuts and Bolts – July 2010

Volume 17, “Referee Nuts and Bolts”, July 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 July 2010 column includes discussions entitled:

17-1; “Do Teams Get Briefed On Your Weaknesses?

17-2; “Rules Knowledge”

Your comments, questions, and thoughts about these BASIC topics are always welcome. You can contact me directly via email.

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17.1; “Do Teams Get Briefed On Your Weaknesses?”

Many do, particularly at the more competitive levels of the game.

At some point in preparing for the game you are assigned to officiate, the Coach will conduct a team briefing at a practice before the game. One subject will be to go over their perception of how you manage a game, your weaknesses and strengths, and how the team may use this information as part of their team strategy to win that game.

While not all teams do this, it happens often enough for you to want to become aware of the practice and to take steps to minimize any negative effect on the game(s) you officiate involving the team(s).

Obviously, the more strengths you have, and the better your reputation has evolved for being fair, firm, and unbiased, the more unlikely that your game management will be challenged by unfair team tactics.

Tip:  Take regular stock of you strengths and weaknesses.  Continually work at identifying and improving those performance skills you believe are either strong weak.  Get all the help you can in this process.  Also, do not neglect to identify your strengths and work at making them even stronger.  Both efforts are important to your becoming a better Referee. It is especially important to become aware, as you progress in your development as a Referee, of those skills you need to improve, for it is those weaknesses in particular that teams will try to identify and play against in order to gain an advantage in any game you officiate for them.

Tip:  When you have a “bad” game, review your game performance thoroughly and try to identify patterns where a team seemed to take regular advantage of a particular weakness you felt you could have handled better.  Teams are often better at making us aware of our performance problems than any other source of help. Use this awareness and knowledge to strengthen and improve your refereeing.

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17-2; “Rules Knowledge”

It’s obviously important for the Intercollegiate and Interscholastic Soccer Referee to have a thorough knowledge of the soccer rules under which a game is played, whether they be the NCAA or NFHS Soccer Rules.

Why? First, because the Referee is the only authority in a game who is empowered to enforce those rules and to decide on all points of fact connected with the play. These two ideas (enforce and decide)are heavy laden with importance for the Referee and for the game.

Since you have this as a responsibility, a power, and an authority, you must be better grounded on the rules than anyone else who participates in that game. No discussion, argument, or protest can prevail once the Referee makes a decision to enforce a particular rule in a particular way. So, it’s important to “get each decision right.”

Just as importantly, once a decision has to be made in a game, it usually has to be made instantly, more as a reflex action by the Referee than as a matter that can take any amount of time to think about before rendering a judgment and taking corrective action.

As Referee, you do not carry a rule book onto the field; you are expected to rule immediately on each incident in a game based on your rules knowledge. Therefore, you want to make sure you are correct about each and every part of the rules you enforce.

The more you study and read through the rule book, the more you will develop the ability to instantly decide on what to do when a player or team action requires a decision and an action. Also, the more you will learn, including new perspectives and understandings of rules material you thought you already knew thoroughly. Every time you reread a segment of the rule book or a particular rule you will probably learn something new about that rule or segment that you did not either know or remember. Insight comes with constant study.

Without continuous study and reading of the rules you will likely never become competent enough as a Referee to reach the highest level of excellence that you have set as your personal goal.

Tip:  In preparing yourself as thoroughly as possible to enforce the rules, one effective way to do so is to get into the habit of reading at least one rule, or one page of the rule book, each day.  This can be done in a matter of a very few minutes.  If you practice this, you will read through the rule book several times each year and, more importantly, be thoroughly grounded and competent in the rules at all times. Your game management will undoubtedly improve.

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