I have a tendency to overreact when given advice or feedback about my weaker areas. When I got the typical feedback early in my career that my whistle needed to be stronger, I worked on it to the point that feedback now is the opposite. Last year I was advised that my whistle could be quieter in some situations – players three fields away were stopping play!
I have heard the comments we all do at association meetings and recertifications about avoiding the “referee retention circle” (center circle). In the past I have also received direct guidance, advice, and/or feedback about my positioning. As a result, over the years, I have worked to get wider and go deeper on my diagonals. I have also tried to follow the general advice to always be able to see play and one assistant referee. In attempting to meet these objectives, I had adopted some bad habits (from good intentions) that result in suboptimal positions for the current play, reactive rather than proactive movement for the next phase of play (consequently having to work too hard), and extreme positions (wide or deep) that exacerbated the first two problems.
Last year, Mark Geiger (at the time NJSDI) gave a USSF presentation at a SRANJ meeting about some new concepts on referee position that are evolving. These concepts address the issues I mention above. I am attempting to absorb the material and work it into my toolbox. This weekend, I will be using a tournament and feedback from colleagues to fine-tune the approach. Like any attempt to break habits, I expect it to be rough around the edges at best, if not downright clumsy and awkward. I will report back on my experience. In the meantime, here is the positioning presentation: