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 the importance of taking a break from it all. The intercollegiate season ended in November and interscholastic seasons ended either in November or May. Spring intercollegiate soccer games are completed so officials have an opportunity to several things. This article will focus on the options for officials during the summer season.
The first option is to take some time off and spend it with family and friends. Most officials have a busy season(s) throughout the year. Two or three college games a week and two or three more high school games. Many officials also work professional, amateur and youth soccer. This takes even more time away from family and friends. The summer months are a great time to rest the muscles and relax with family and enjoy special times. Vacation, day trips, or just doing special things at home go a long way to renew relationships. This also provides an opportunity to relax mentally and become prepared for the upcoming fall season. In addition, officials can use some time to have light physical training and improve conditioning and fitness for the next season.
The second option is to look for opportunities to attend a clinic(s) or camp that will help develop new skills for the upcoming season. NISOA has the National Academy Training Camp that is a four day residential program that provides classroom training, field exercises, fitness training, and games that are observed by senior officials with immediate feedback. This is one opportunity that can be very beneficial. One day training programs such as the NISOA National Referee Academy focus on higher level training with emphasis on latest officiating techniques and people management skill development. Other clinics at the regional and local level can provide additional insight into officiating, mechanics and people management.
The third option is to officiate in a limited number of summer leagues or tournaments. This will allow the official to maintain “game day” skills and provide opportunities to try different techniques in an atmosphere that is more conducive to this type of approach. Working a few tournaments should not distract from family time and still afford the opportunity for the official to maintain his/her skill levels.
The fourth option is to accept every assignment possible and officiate numerous games per day and week. Some officials elect to do this and work so many games that he/she becomes physically and mentally exhausted. No matter what the level of play, a soccer official cannot work five to ten games in one day and expect to give any of the games a 100% effort. The same is for an official working multiple games several days in a row. This type of official is only cheating the game and not giving the players a quality effort. In addition, officials who work so many games during the summer are less ready for the fall intercollegiate and interscholastic seasons. An official who works numerous games during the summer begins the fall season tired and possibly injured from all the games officiated. This could result in the official being criticized by coaches and assignors not providing the top level assignments for them.
The last option to be discussed is the official who combines soccer officiating requirements with family opportunities. Many officials, who are selected for regional tournaments or other games that require travel, take family members to the site. A mini-vacation is combined with the assignments so that the entire family can enjoy the experience. For example, an official is asked to work a regional tournament at a location where there is a water park or amusement park. The official takes the family and spends a day before or after the tournament with the family at the park. The same could be done where there is a historical site or city. Officials who work these types of tournaments should do some advanced research and determine what is available for the family to enjoy before, during and after the tournament. Another consideration would be to register and attend any convention that provides soccer officiating training. Two examples are the NISOA National Convention and the National Association of Sports Officials Summit. Both provide training by highly qualified individuals and also provide an opportunity for family time.
In summary, officials should use the summer to spend time with family, train, seek opportunities to learn and if desired officiate a minimum amount of games.