Referee Nuts and Bolts – February 2012

by:  John Van de Vaarst

Volume 33 – February 2012

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 the advantages and dangers of technology.

The game of today at all levels is being influenced by technology in many different ways.  Rapid communications, video replays, game taping, and more all impact the interscholastic and intercollegiate game.  This article will focus on the benefits and detriments of these technologies.

Technology can be a benefit to a game official in many ways.  At the intercollegiate level and in some cases the interscholastic level, officials may be able to obtain box scores from previous games and review cautions and ejections.  This allows officials to see trends in games and potential problem areas that can be avoided by preventive officiating.  Box scores can be used as a tool to learn about players, coaches and bench personnel.

Modern technology has resulted in the use of communication devises between the referee, assistants and alternate official.  The latest tool is the microphone and earphone so the referee, assistants and alternate can talk to each other during the game.  This provides the opportunity to relay important information quickly and discreetly.  The alternate or assistant referee can advise the referee of an off the ball situation or a missed offside signal.  This can greatly assist in game control.  Care must be used in what is communicated and how it is stated.  Coaches and bench personnel may be able to hear what is stated and this could present problems  if the communication is not professional and appropriate.  Prior to the use of microphones and hearing devices, there were assistant referee flags that allowed the assistant to beep the referee to gain his/her attention.  These devises are still very popular and provide another tool for enhanced communication between officials.

Video taping of games has allowed officials to quickly review their performance and learn from each game.  Mistakes in judgment or a poor position during a particular play now become teachable moments for the official when reviewing the tape.  This helps the official during the next game and improves overall performance.  These tapes can also be used at clinics and meetings to help all members improve their skills.

Email, texting, Facebook and other forms of electronic communications are the norm.  While email is a rapid way to communicate with fellow officials, athletic departments, etc., each and every official must be careful what the write in the message.  Referees are professionals and their communications must be the same.  Sarcastic comments about players, coaches or bench personnel can only lead to problems for the author including a potential suspension from the chapter, conference or organization.  There have been cases where officials put posts on Facebook about a particular game, player, coach or bench personnel and the chapter had to take an action because of what was posted.  Emotions must stay out of any communication.  Although, a referee may think it is private, the message is posted in a public domain and can be seen by others.  A good rule for all officials is think before you write.  This will prevent potential problems for everyone involved.

In summary, the referee should use modern technology to their advantage and not disadvantage.  Make use of the tools to better game control and referee techniques and not as a forum to belittle other officials or create problems for the chapter, assignor and association.