Blog Archives

Referee Crew Teamwork

El Hadji Diouf ..complains to the Assistant Re...

El Hadji Diouf complains to the Assistant Referee! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the November meeting of the SRANJ, State Referee Emeritus Barry Towbin provided a presentation on referee crew teamwork. He led a discussion of the referees in the room around several topics critical to successful referee teamwork. Barry challenged referees in the room with questions and used their answers as well as their comments and questions to augment his presentation.

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Soccer Referee Recertification for 2014

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recertification classes for 2014 Grade 8 are now available. The recertification exam for Grade 7 is also available. Information is on the website under “Registered Referees” tab. The actual courses are accessed by logging into GameOfficials and choosing your “NJ SRC Official” identity (if you have more than one). Choose “Courses”, “Referee Courses”, and then “2014 Grade 8 (or 7) Recert…”. Do not procrastinate – they are filling rapidly.

You must pass the online test no later than three days before the classroom session in order to attend the classroom session and be recertified. Read the rest of this entry

The Foul of Handling

(Photo credit: Newscom via

At the October meeting of the SRANJ, Alan Brown, NJ State Director of Assessment, provided a clinic on handling, or “hand balls”. He described the wording in Law 12 and then the guidance for how referees should apply it. He stated that referees must first determine whether handling has occurred, then, if it did, where it occurred (for the restart) and whether misconduct was involved. He used video clips to make the following points: Read the rest of this entry

New Referee Courses Announced

English: A Welcome To New Jersey sign promotin...

The NJ Referee Committee has announced the entry-level (Grade 8) class schedule for this Summer. Please pass on to anyone interested in becoming a referee (they must be sixteen years of age by the first day of the class). Students are now required to take online lessons and a test before the actual classroom sessions. It appears that the registration fee includes an OSI referee starter kit (perhaps to get some consistency in appearance for new referees). Registration information is here:

Recertification classes for existing referees have not yet been posted…

Referee Positioning

This diagram represents a Diagonal system of c...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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:

Positioning – Revised

Enjoy, and have a great holiday weekend (and don’t forget why we recognize Memorial Day)…

A Question about Crew Support

Bench View of Rocha Sending Off

(Photo credit: joncandy)

As a result of my recent email about AR responsibilities, I received the following question:

When you stated “Support the referee if questioned by coaches/players – NEVER indicate that the referee made a bad call!”, what if I were to signal a foul that clear to everyone but the center waved the call off?  How can I support the center ref if he disagrees with my call, especially if I am on the coaches’ side and as the game continues the coach comes over to talk to me during play?  They will probably ask why the center did not agree. What should I say?

That is a great question! (And somewhat ironic that it comes at the time of the retirement announcement of Sir Alex – one of the most famous referee bait-ers)

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Managing Injuries

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(Photo credit: goatling)

State Referee Emeritus (and NJSDI) Derek Von Langen delivered a USSF presentation on managing injuries at the May meeting of the SRANJ. He discussed the Laws of the Game that reference injury management, and then presented the USSF position on injury management in youth and amateur soccer. He stated that the Laws of the Game state that a referee shall stop play only for serious or severe injury. What constitutes serious or severe is up to the referee’s judgment on that day in that match. It will depend on the age and expectations of the players.

With youth players, and even with most amateur players, safety is the overriding concern. For U-10 any time a player is on the ground from a possible injury, we shall treat it as serious and STOP THE MATCH. As the players get older, we might wait a moment to see if they get up, but if there is any doubt, we STOP THE MATCH. For any obvious severe or serious injury, we MUST STOP THE MATCH.

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The Language of the Laws

Referee & Madlung

Referee & Madlung (Photo credit: Kate_Lokteva)

Over the first few weeks of the season I have had the opportunity to observe or work with several dozen referees. Each had strengths as well as areas for additional development, as we all do. One of the more common areas for improvement is verbal communications. This is also one of the easiest areas to improve – but it takes a little effort!

As referees, we can be our own worst enemies by the words we choose to communicate. For example, after a coach complains that his player was pushed, having been illegally charged from behind, we should not say “It wasn’t a foul because the player did not use her hands.” If you did not see the charge to the back, simply say that, but advise the coach you will watch for it (and watch for it!).

Above is an obvious example of digging yourself a hole. There are other situations, however, that can best be avoided by using the “Language of the Laws”. Examples:

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The Referee’s Role in Determining an Offside Offense


(Photo credit: fchmksfkcb)

Our colleague Mark Mittelstadt suggested this topic after watching the West Bromley Albion – Swansea City EPL match Saturday. It reminded me of an embarrassing moment early in my career.

In the first high-level regional tournament I ever worked, I was AR1 with a National Referee in the middle. My attacking team had a corner kick on my corner. I set up for it even with the goal line as two defenders were on the posts. The attacker mis-struck the ball in the direction of the penalty spot. The two defenders immediately came off the goal line towards the ball. I moved left with the second to last opponent and noted the kick taker was now offside. An attacker and defender converged on the ball and it returned to the kick taker. I popped the flag. One problem… the ball had come off the defender, not the kick taker’s teammate. The referee recognized what happened and waved me down. (In my defense, it appeared that the ball had been returned by the kick taker’s teammate.)

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