By: John Van de Vaarst
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 mechanics. The focus will be on the importance of using proper mechanics in both the intercollegiate and interscholastic game. The article will focus on two areas where proper mechanics are not always applied.
The NCAA Rule Book provides diagrams for proper mechanics for an assistant referee. The NISOA Mechanics Handbook provides information on the proper signals and positioning for both the referee and assistant referees. The NFHS Rules Book provides diagrams on the proper signals for both referees and assistant referees. These are the only signals that should be used in an intercollegiate or interscholastic game.
Many officials are members of NISOA, a state high school association, and U.S. Soccer. As a result, the officials must know proper signals for each game officiated. Often times the officials can become complacent and only use the approved signals for one organization when working a game for another. For example, the official may use approved signals for a amateur game (U.S. Soccer) when officiating a Division I college game. This can create problems for the official and even a potential protest.
The first area where proper mechanics are not always applied is when a goal is scored. In the intercollegiate game and the interscholastic game, where the diagonal system of control is used, the proper mechanics for lead assistant referee are to make eye contact with the referee. Once this occurs, the assistant referee must let the referee know if it was a goal or if there is a problem. If it was a good goal the assistant should turn and sprint toward the half way line, approximately 30 yards. If there was a problem the assistant referee should remain in the same position so that the referee can communicate in some way to determine what the issue was and whether to award the goal or have some other type of restart. This should occur quickly and professionally so that the potential for dissent is kept to a minimum. Once the referee makes a decision, the assistant should abide by it and remain part of the officiating team. Further discussion can occur after the game if the assistant is still concerned about the decision. Another example of a proper mechanics for the assistant referee is when the ball just crosses the goal line and rebounds into play. The assistant should raise the flag straight up and when the referee acknowledges the flag with the whistle sounding, the assistant should follow the above procedures. If the assistant just turns and sprints without raising the flag the referee may be confused as to whether the assistant is following the second to the last defender or signaling a goal. The last step for the assistant is once the sprint is completed, the assistant should observe the actions on the field so that he/she can provide information in the event of a problem before the game is restarted. This is not the time to for the assistant referee to be recording the score on his/her note pad. The official scorer is responsible for that task.
When a goal is scored the referee must follow certain mechanics for the intercollegiate and interscholastic game. Once eye contact is made and the referee knows that the ball has crossed the goal line and is in the goal, the referee must use the proper signal to stop the clock. Once this occurs the referee points to the half way line to indicate where the restart will take place. The referee should back peddle toward the half way and keep eye contact on the players. There is potential for taunting, fighting, and other misconducts after a goal. Just like the assistant referee, the referee should not take his/her eyes of the players to record the score in a note pad.
The second area that requires proper mechanics is the issuance of a caution or ejection. In intercollegiate games, the referee must first stop the clock with the appropriate signal, clearly identify the player and display the yellow or red card. In the event of an ejection, the referee must report the incident within 24 hours electronically through the NCAA Soccer Central Hub. If the ejection was for fighting, the referee must inform the player(s), the head coach and official scorekeeper that an ejection for fighting was issued. The referee must complete the electronic form within 24 hours. When a referee issues a caution in an interscholastic game, he/she must first stop the clock, clearly identify the player and hold a yellow card overhead. The referee must notify both coaches, the scorer and other officials of the nature of yhe misconduct. If an ejection occurs in an interscholastic game, the referee must stop the clock, clearly identify the player and hold the red card overhead. Again, both coaches, the scorer and other officials must be notified. If a player, coach or bench personnel is being ejected for a subsequent act after already receiving a caution, the referee must stop the clock and hold the yellow card overhead and immediately the red card.
The above are only two examples of proper mechanics for officials during an intercollegiate or interscholastic game. All officials must apply all the proper mechanics during a game in a professional manner.