Referee Nuts and Bolts – October 2011

by:  John Van de Vaarst

Volume 29 – October  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 focuses on more than the rule book.

Every soccer referee knows that to be successful you must be a student of the rules.  It is important to maintain an excellent knowledge of each and every rule/law and any approved rulings, play rulings, or advice to referees.   This is imperative if the referee is going on the field to enforce the rules.  The NCAA Rule Book, The National Federation of High School Rule Book and the USSF Laws of the Game are very similar.  However, there are differences that can cause a protest or problem for the official if interpreted improperly.  Last month’s article provided some examples of these differences and how a referee can error.

There are two other items that make a referee successful.  The first is being a student of the game.  This includes game management skills, people management skills, and understanding the various styles of play.  Top referees review box scores on websites, learn about teams style of play and prepare themselves for each game.  These activities allow the official to mentally prepare and be on top of their game when they arrive at the site.  Strong people management skills greatly assist referees in dealing with players, coaches and bench personnel.   Everyone has their own personality.  Using this to their advantage a referee can have better game control and potentially reduce the number of cautions and ejections.

Another area that is critical to success is knowing the local rule modifications that the game is being played under.  The National Federation of High School Rule Book indicates that each state can establish their own overtime policies.  It is imperative that the officials working within a state are totally familiar with that rule.  If the state is playing under the golden goal rule, and the officials play two full overtimes, there can be serious problems, up to and including a protest.  Also, if a player is ejected when the game continues after the golden goal, there can be serious complications for all involved.  The National Junior College plays modified NCAA Rules.  The main difference is they allow unlimited substitution, similar to high school.  Many regions within the Junior College game also mandate that a player be replaced if issued a caution.  These small differences can create a problem for an official if they do not know the proper local rules.

Attendance at chapter meetings, clinics, etc. is a great way to learn about local rules, style of play by teams and more.  Become a student of the game and your overall performance should imporve.