Saturday, March 22, 2008

Big Weekend at a College Showcase

I had a big weekend working a day at a boy's college showcase. There were two great things about it. First, I managed to get in 7 U-17 boys games! Second, my good friend, who was recently certified, got to do his first tournament and we worked together.
For a few months, I've really felt like I was ready to move up the age groups a little bit. I haven't had much in the way of the older games, so I was looking forward to getting a few assignments. I put in my availability for this college showcase and I was selected. We had an entire day of U-17 boys scheduled! Typically, I'll end up doing 6 games of an 8 or 9 game schedule. We work a crew of 4, so you have a couple of games off. Well, this morning, one of our crew members was late so I wound up with 7 games for the day with 2 middles. Nice. I really felt like I did a good job today so it was pretty satisfying, although I am totally exhausted!
As a new referee, I think you have to understand how to choose your sources of performance feedback. In other endeavors, you can sort of trust that the feedback you are getting has at least a hint of truth in it. I'm not convinced that's the case with soccer. For the most part, we had good teams with good coaches and parents today. But some of the teams were...well...lacking in some of these categories. As a referee, you need to be able to filter out some of this negative feedback. Realize that coaches and parents, for the most part, are not knowledgeable about the Laws of the Game and are certainly not going to give an unbiased opinion about your performance. You are much better off if you seek feedback from colleagues you know to be trustworthy and knowledgeable. If you are able to realize this early, you have a better chance of sticking with refereeing. At the half of most games, I'll meet with my ARs at mid-field. Typically, there isn't much time, especially if you want to try and get some food and drink. I've developed the habit of immediately asking "How are we doing in this game?" Get that feedback to make sure your game situation is what you think it is.
My recent re-reading of the "Advice to the Referee" came in handy this weekend. I was an Assistant Referee on the coaches side of the field. We had a free kick. The team chose to take the kick quickly, hitting an opposing player in the back, as he was retreating, about 5 yards away. The coach was immediately screaming for a caution and a retake. I pointed out to him that the player was retreating. Those of you that have read it know that "Advice" tells us (section 13.3) that in this situation, the kicking team cannot claim infringement of the required distance because they chose to take the kick with the player that close. This seem to satisfy and calm the coach, although I'm sure he looked it up when he got home!
If you read my earliest posts, you'll take note my first few games were U-9 and U-10 girls. I worked those games on my own, without the benefit of knowledgeable ARs. Recently, I talked my good friend into getting certified. He is in excellent condition and knows the game well as he played as an adult. The last few weeks, we've been putting in availability together for league games, but he hadn't been assigned. I guess there weren't any games available that the league assignor felt appropriate. We put in our availability for this college showcase. Honestly,
I never thought he'd get called. Even if he did, I was sure "Lines only" would be next to his name on our assignment sheet. Well, he got called AND he was assigned 2 middles! This is not the way I would have wanted to start my referee career. Fortunately, he came into the day with the right attitude. He was like a sponge the first couple of games, watching his colleagues and obviously making mental notes. When his time came, he did reasonably well, considering his experience level (zero!) His first game in the middle can be described as awkward. It wasn't bad, just awkward.
Fortunately, he had relatively easy teams in that there didn't seem to be any trouble makers or particularly aggressive play. By the end of the half, he had improved some. We spoke with him at the half and made some corrections. His second half was better. Later in the day, he had his 2nd middle. Surprisingly, he made a huge improvement. I thought he looked like he had 10 or 20 games under his belt. It's nice to see a guy start off well, knowing he's going to end up being a solid official.
So there you have it. Another nice weekend running the field and learning how to be a better referee. I got some experience with the older players and helped my friend get a good start in his career. Let me know what your first game was like! Your comments are always welcome!


Anonymous said...

My first games are coming up April12-13. I will be Center (with 2 "club linesman" as AR.) Unlike your friend, however, I will be starting with 9 and 10 year olds boys and girls. Your buddy was pretty brave to start at that level!
I will continue to read and enjoy your posts.

The Referee said...

Thanks for you kind comments. Yes, he made it through unscathed. I'm suppose to work with him again this weekend. It's nice to see a guy that really wants to do a good job. He's working hard. Good luck with your games. Check my profile for my email address and let me know how you did.

Anonymous said...

I agree that you have to filter out the opinions of parents, coaches, and players. As you mention, most really don't know the LoTG at all and can certainly not be considered unbiased. Most of the time, I simply say "Thank you for your opinion" and give it the attention it deserves - virtually none. But for a new referee, it's easy to take their comments to seriously and let it get to you.

I definitely reccomend you get assessed on a fairly regular basis. If the assessor is good, he should be telling you what you're doing right as well as what you need to improve. Plus, he should definitely know the LoTG and be unbiased. If you haven't already, get in touch with your District Director of Assessment or your State Director of Assessment and schedule an assessment or two on matches where you think will challenge your capabilities. I think you'll find your game improving quite a bit.

Anonymous said...

I was first certified when I was 13 and had my dad, who was an experienced referee to bounce ideas off of him. My first few games I did AR as I was afraid of the middle! I did pretty good that I can recall, but my first middle had a coach that I remembered from earlier, and not in a good way. A coach that yelled at his players "Come on guys, this isn't putt-putt golf!!" and of course directed it towards me too. I even remember a player using a mildly offensive word towards me but did nothing as it took me off guard! I made it through though and did much better later.