By: Don Dennison NISOA National Clinician and National Assessor
As you read this article, the fall soccer season is either already underway or will begin very shortly. Are you really physically and mentally ready for the challenges ahead?
Every year high school soccer for both the boys and girls becomes more competitive, the players are stronger and faster and they have developed additional field skills and strategies. It is incumbent for the officiating team to be able to keep up with these many changes in the high school game. You can no longer stand in the center circle (DSC) or on the touchline at mid-field (two referee system) and blow for a foul 30 yards downfield ; no one will buy that call. Presence leads to conviction and you have got to be near the spot where the ball is being played for that is where fouls occur in most instances. The old technique of staying at mid-field because the players are going to come back doesn’t work.
The answer and solution is for the officials to be fit for the match and that means running. All USSF advanced referees and college officials must pass an annual fitness test. This is not the case for high school officials in many states. I certainly recommend that all states adopt such a fitness test. With or without a test, the high school soccer officials must adhere to some exercise and fitness routine before the season starts in order to be fit for the high school challenge.
Aside from the fitness aspects, the referee must have an absolutely thorough knowledge of the Rule Book. When you first receive your book for the current year, I recommend that you first study in detail the new Soccer Rules Changes (page 2), the Points of Emphasis (pages 71-72) and the Comments on the Rules (pages 72 -73). Don’t stop there, however. Make sure that you read and understand the entire book including all of the Play Rulings. If you have a question about any situation, consult a more senior official or the State Rules Interpreter. Even after the season gets underway, refer to the Rules Book frequently in order to refresh your memory.
I would also direct your attention to the Rules Comparison Guide (pages 74-86) in order to avoid mix ups with other sets of Rules and Laws (FIFA and NCAA).
The new High School rule changes are few but important. The following are the changes:
When there is an injury and the ball is dead, both coaches can this year give instructions to their teams. The prohibition last year proved unworkable and difficult for the officials to manage.
This year, all substitutes must be beckoned onto the field except after a period.
Any tape applied to the socks must be of the same basic color of the socks.
Merely taping a ball on a free kick is improper, the ball must actually move.
Electronic devices, i.e. tablets, are permitted in the bench area but cannot be used to communicate with field players.
Unsuccessfully attempting to deny an obvious goal scoring opportunity by committing a foul on an attacker is now a caution. However, if the attempt is successful and the goal is actually prevented the player is disqualified (red card).
Get fit, read the Rules Book and have fun this season.