Referee Nuts and Bolts – September 2011

by:  John Van de Vaarst

Volume 28 – September 2011

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 often forgotten or overlooked while going through the experiences of soccer refereeing.  The short discussions and accompanying tips stress important advice for competent performance.

This month’s article will focus on knowing the rules of the game.

The title of the article appears to be very basic.   However, each year at the intercollegiate level games are protested because of a misapplication of a rule.   At the interscholastic level, conferences and state offices deal with protests on a regular and recurring basis because a soccer official did not know the proper rule.  An upheld protest causes havoc to the schedule, frustration on player’s and coach’s parts and in some cases bad publicity about the official or the official’s association.

One of the critical aspects of being a successful soccer official is to be a student of the rules.   The college or high school rule book or the USSF Laws of the Game should be reviewed constantly to ensure a thorough knowledge of the rules or laws.  This is even more important if an official works college, high school and recreational games.   Misinterpreting a play because the official was confused between the appropriate rules should never happen.  For example, what is the correct restart after an injury?  The NCAA rule book indicates the restart is a drop ball unless the goalkeeper was injured and in possession of the ball and then it is an indirect free kick.  In high school, if there is an injury and one team is in clear possession, the restart is an indirect free kick for the team in possession.  If neither team was in clear possession, the restart is a drop ball.   If the referee misapplies the restart after an injury there could be a protest.   For example, if the goalkeeper was injured in a college game while in possession of the ball and the referee has a drop ball to resume play the game could be protested.  Another example is the overtime periods if a game is tied.  The NCAA has a specific rule about overtime procedures.  In high school it is up to the state association to adopt a policy.  The NCAA rule is adjusted for tournament and post season play.  The officials must know what the procedures are and make sure they are applied properly so that a protest does not occur.  The last example is when does a game become official?  In the NCAA Rule Book, 70 minutes must have been played.  In high school one half of the game must be completed.   The officials must be aware of this when suspending a game for the elements or other reasons.

Officials should read their rule books on a regular basis and know every aspect of them.  This will greatly aid in preventing problems