The Challenge of the Competitive Game, Part 3

The Challenge of the Competitive Game, Part 3 (April 2013)

By Bob Sumpter, NISOA


This is the third in a three-part series about the Challenge of the Competitive Game for the monthly NISOA Nuts and Bolts Column. Part 1 covered suggestions about: (1) A Serious Attitude, (2) Speed, and (3) Intensity. Part 2 covered suggestions about: (4) Competitiveness, (5) Integrity, (6) Players, and (7) Spectators. Part 3 covers suggestions about: (8) Experience, (9) Feel for the Game, and (10) Referee Team.

(8) Experience

Learning through solid experience is vital to a referee’s development. The more experience gained, the more should be learned and mastered. The referee should want to seek and be exposed to as many games as possible within the stricture of available time, opportunity, and the true place of priority for this avocation.

A referee should not expect to glide through to the most competitive game level seeking only comfortable experiences. Assignments that offer a challenge will help you to excel.

Have you tried the indoor game to help sharpen your reaction time to incidents? Refereeing at the pace, and in the restricted space, of indoor soccer provides particularly good experience to help sharpen your observation skills and reaction times.

Remember that learning trough experience includes a lot of sharing with your colleagues. Referees learn from each other. Both offer and ask for advice, suggestions, and critiques.

An experienced Referee Assessor can turn out to be you most helpful and best friend. The post game briefing is most useful when you listen carefully and completely to comments, then ask questions or discuss the comments where more depth is needed. Once you feel you understand the comments, then review and analyze them in your own mind afterwards to try to see which suggestions for improvement can be most helpful to you. Compare the comments carefully and objectively, compare your impression of your game and actions and then decide which suggestions to try out. If you go through those steps you will have successfully used a most valuable help in your development.

(9) Feel for the Game

Developing a feel for the game is (to a great extent) a matter of learning player and team tactics, strategies, and behavior.

Can you consistently recognize (a) a fake dive, (b) a pick play, (c) an attack buildup or drive on goal in the early stages, (d) what’s likely to happen next or correctly estimate where you should be headed on the field, (e) what effect your whistle has on a player as you blow just a yard or so away from that player’s ear, (f) a player who is a potential problem, (g) an “enforcer” or “Hatchet man”?

These are some of the examples more important to successfully performing at competitive level game on which to try to concentrate in your development activities. It is certainly NOT a complete list, and you should try to identify and add to it as you gather experience and understanding of competitive soccer game management.

(10) Referee Team

It takes a complete Referee Team to properly officiate college and high school games. That means three certified referees, with a possible alternate referee as a fourth. Every member of the Referee Team needs to give total support to the others to best perform. The Referee who limits the role of any other member of the Referee Team by instructing not to give indications in specific instances, places the game management in possibly unnecessary trouble. The Referee cannot perform adequately by himself/herself. Working together as a Team is a must. Every member of the Team needs total support and involvement from the others, and needs to be able to rely on that to add to the effectiveness of their game management.

Summary, Part 3

This completes the three-part series about The Challenge of the Competitive Game and the discussion of suggestions about improving your ability to handle competitive games.  The final three subject areas have been presented in Part 3. We hope you have identified at least one suggestion in each of the areas discussed that will be of value to your refereeing.

In this now-completed three-part series you should have identified at least 10 suggestions to consider trying out to improve your handling of competitive games in both college and high school soccer.