By: John Van de Vaarst, National Clinician
The monthly “NISOA Referee Nuts and Bolts” column is written primarily for the college and high school soccer Referee. However, any soccer Referee who wishes to improve personal performance may also find that this series is helpful.
All articles address those BASIC techniques, procedures, practice alternatives, and skills that are sometimes forgotten or overlooked while going through the experiences of soccer refereeing. The short discussions and accompanying practical tips stress important advice for competent performance. This month’s article will focus on game assignments. Every official, either high school or college, is always looking for tips on how to get as many games as possible and how to get the best game available. This article will provide some tips on what the official should do to obtain as many good assignments as possible.
There are many tips that will help an official develop and receive better assignments. The first: know the rules. Every official must review the NFHS or NCAA Rule Books on a regular basis. This includes the play rulings and interpretations. A good tip to help remember what is in the rule book is to visualize the rule. After reading the rule, take a minute and visualize a play related to the rule and how to apply the rule during a game situation. Another good way to remember the rules are to take a quiz on the rules. Testing will indicate how much is retained and what areas need improvement. The rule book must be read on multiple occasions. Reading once a year and then relying on memory will not result in a soccer referee who can handle a unique situation. The more the rule book is read the more likely the official can deal with any situation with confidence. Lastly, in addition to reading the rule book, take time to talk to “rule experts” about situations and decisions. A chapter clinician and rules interpreter are but two great sources of information.
A second example of receiving more and better assignments is: knowing the mechanics. Using the proper signals that are specified in the NFHS or NCAA Rule Books demonstrates that the official is knowledgeable of the rules and applies them through proper signals. It must be noted that only the signals that are in the rule books should be used. Made up signals only lead to confusion and potential for problems in game management. An official should practice the proper signals in front of a mirror so that when he/she steps on the field the signals used will be crisp and professional looking to all involved. The second part of mechanics is being in the proper position during the game to make the accurate decision. Fitness and anticipation go a long way in improving an officials abilities and receive future assignments.
Appearance is a key component to having coaches, administrators, conference officials and assignors utilize officials on critical games. Perception leads to reality. The old saying of looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, chances are it is a duck applies to officiating. If an official arrives at a site dressed properly and looking professional, all involved will have the perception that the official is worthy of the assignment. If the official is using the locker facilities, he/she should arrive dressed properly and not in a T0shirt and casual shorts. Appearance does not go unnoticed.
Every official will have a bad game during the course of a season. It is important to maintain a perspective on the entire season and move forward. It may be helpful to contact another official and talk about the game so that the official get that “bad taste in the mouth” out and move forward to the next assignment. A mistake in a game or a bad game in general should be used as a teaching moment to make the official better for the next assignment.
The last topic for this article is the most important. Family first should be the motto of every official. Do not over extend as an official and take so many assignments that the family is adversely impacted. It is important to maintain a balance between family and officiating. At some point in the season consider taking some of the money earned and doing a special event with the family. This will help the official also and provide that break in the action which should lead to better officiating in the future.
The above are only a few tips on how to obtain better assignments. More tips will come in future articles.