Timekeepers Duties And Responsibilities

Published on December 8, 2014


By: John Van de Vaarst, National Clinician

The monthly “NISOA Referee Nuts and Bolts” 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. This month’s article will focus on the timekeepers duties and responsibilities.

In both the NCAA and NFHS Rule Books there are specific duties and responsibilities for timekeepers. Rule 6 in the NCAA Rule Book deals with Other Officials and Their Duties.  The NFHS Rule Book provides information to Ball holders, Timer and Scorer in Rule 6.  In both instances there are many duties and responsibilities for the timekeeper.  While there are some differences, the main fact is that the timekeeper is an important part of the game.  The duties and responsibilities must be made clear to the timekeeper by the officials prior to each game.  As the season progresses, it is easy to become complacent and not provide instructions to the timekeeper.  This is not a good idea.  The official has now way of knowing if this is an experienced timekeeper or one that is keeping the clock for the first time.  Even if the timekeeper is experienced, a thorough review of the duties must be part of the pregame discussions.  Interscholastic games often provide a unique situation with timekeepers.  An individual volunteers to work the clock just so they can be part of the game.  The officials must make this person feel they are part of the officiating team and have specific responsibilities.  If this does not occur there can be problems with the official time during a critical part of the game.

For games played under the NFHS rules, the official must discuss the following items with the timekeeper before the game:

The clock starts when the ball is put into play, not on the whistle.  This is for all restarts where the clock has been stopped at the end of the previous play.

The clock starts at the beginning of each half and continues to run unless a goal is scored or the referee indicates to stop the clock with a hand signal.  This will occur on a penalty kick, caution or ejection.  This may also occur when the official feels a player is injured and needs assistance or when the official feels a team is wasting time.  It is critical that the timekeeper observe the official whenever there is a whistle to stop play.

During the last 10 seconds of each half, the timekeeper is to count down to the time to the end of the half or the game.  Also, the countdown is to occur at the end of each overtime period.

The NCAA rules have the same procedures as the NFHS rules.  In addition the NCAA rules has several other times the clock must be stopped.  These additions include:

During the last five minutes of the game if the home team substitutes, the clock must be stopped.  Also, during the last five minutes if the visiting team receives a caution or ejection, the official has the option of not stopping the clock.  During this latter situation, the timekeeper must be most diligent and observe the official to see if he/she gives a hand signal to stop the clock.  If this does not occur, the clock must continue to run.

Timekeepers are a critical part of the game.  It is most important that officials review the duties and responsibilities prior to each game.  A timekeeping error can result in problems for the officials during the game and create unnecessary controversy.  Officials must remember to review duties prior to each game.

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