by: John Hagenstein (MN), NISOA Assessment Study Chair
As part of the NISOA National Referee Program (NRP), all National Referees and National Referee Candidates are required to be assessed each year in order to maintain or receive their National Referee badges. Also, as part of the NISOA Assessment Program, all Regional and National Assessors who have assessed a National Referee or NR Candidate are instructed to send these assessments to the Referee who is being assessed, to the NISOA Director of Assessment, their Regional Area Representative, their Chapter Assessment Coordinator and to the Assessment Study Chair within 7-10 days of the assessment.
These assessments, when reviewed, can provide feedback on their capability while providing the official with areas of improvement and suggestions to improve their overall abilities. Also, these assessments are used to assist assignors as to what level of game these referees may or may not be capable of officiating in regard to NCAA Soccer games.
As the NISOA Study Chair, I was to be sent these NRP assessments and was asked to produce a report with substantiating evidence on the status of our National Referee Program. This year, there were 427 assessments that were sent to me for analysis. The report submitted provided a summary of the scores that the officials received in their assessments. In addition, it was also broken down into two areas of review, Referee Improvement and Critical Rules Applications. Here are the general findings from these assessments.
For those familiar with the format of the NRP Assessment form, besides 25 areas that they are judged on, there are also 6 areas for scoring. Each has it’s own maximum score that should total 100 points. They are listed below by category, total score possible and the average over all assessments.
As you can see, our National Referees and NRP Candidates scored an average of 83.7 points out of a possible of 100 which is considered above average. (The lowest total scores awarded was a 61 and the highest a 98). This would appear to say that our top officials perform well overall.
That said, looking at the 6 category averages, when you factor in that most games were ranked as generally easy (67.5%) by the assessors, we see that Foul Recognition produced the lowest score of 66.5%. This is an area of concern in that it appears that we have a difficult time recognizing fouls, according to our Assessors.
WHAT SHOULD WE WORK ON
Looking through the individual assessments, a few areas stand out where we suggest need more attention and improvement. They are broken down into two primary areas, Referee Improvement and Critical Rules Applications. Listed below are the points of focus in each.
1. Positioning-Keeping dynamic play between the Center and AR’s and not turning your back to the AR’s. Also, stay out of passing lanes!
2. Addressing or dealing with foul language. We are not dealing with it!
3. Proper clock management, knowing when and when not to stop the clock.
4. Managing the technical and bench area/coaches dissent properly.
5. Know the rules! Confusing the NCAA rules with the USSF/FIFA laws.
Besides addressing Referee Improvement, another area of concern is centered around what we call Critical Rules Applications. This involves officials not knowing the rules, not understanding the differences between NCAA and USSF rules, their application and the reasons for the difference. The top four areas that need attention in this area are:
Critical Rules Applications
1. Proper application of drop ball or IFK when foul is called in PA with or without goalkeeper in possession.
2. Correct application of substitution rules when injuries and/or blood occur with or without sanctions.
3. Post-season feedback-understand Kicks from the Mark rules, I.E. who can take kicks in OT.
4. Uniform issues – keepers not wearing proper uniforms, socks, numbers required, etc.
NISOA and the National Referee Program will be addressing these things this coming year at both the local chapter meetings as well as at the National Referee Camps. The NISOA Assessment Program, led by Gary Huber, will be addressing this feedback with the NRP Assessors too. Look back over your own assessments and see if these ring true for you. We trust you are working on them. And if you haven’t been assessed in a while, maybe you should look at getting one this year. All in all, as NISOA certified officials, we owe it to the coaches and players, as well as, to ourselves to be the best we can be and the best way to improve is thru assessment.