Saturday, May 10, 2008

Some Time with the Big Guys

Spring is always tough for me as I have 2 sons that still play, so I can't do games every weekend. This weekend, I had 3 games assigned. 1 was canceled due to the terrible weather we had on Friday night. Fortunately, the other 2 were still on. I was a little apprehensive since we only had 2 games. Someone wasn't going to get a middle, which is unfortunate. The games were U-11 and yes, U-19 boys. This was the first time I was assigned above U-17, so I was looking forward to it.
As is my custom, I arrived 30 minutes before game time at the field for the U-11 game. It payed off. One of the guys assigned with me, who I've worked with before, was already at the field. We flipped a coin for the 2 games available that day. I lost, so he took the U-19 game. Oh well, being an AR for the game is fine too.
As you do more and more games (I have 117, after today), you'll come across situations where you really need to manage the situation with some common sense. Today, the away team had a bunch of players get lost. You should know, ahead of time, the rules for your league regarding the minimum number of players and the grace period for late teams. You don't want to have to look them up. We started about 15 minutes late, but it all worked out.
The first half of the U-11 game was pretty exciting. It was a well played game with both teams effectively moving the ball. Most of the play on the field was fair, although I saw something I hadn't seen before. One of the teams had an interesting tactic used when an opponent would get by them with the ball. They would run behind them and fall. On the way down, they would clip the ankles of the player with the ball. Yes, that drew quite a few whistles and "Advantage!" calls. They quickly found out I wasn't going to see it as "accidental." The 2nd half was not quite as good. The wheels fell off for one team and the game became a little lopsided.
After the U-11 game, we quickly drove down the street to get the the Big Ones. I made some interesting observations about the big guys. First, they are in no hurry to start the game. As a referee, you really need to light a fire under them and get the check-ins done and get the teams on the field. The referee doing the middle did some things, as this guy often does, that I don't think I want to imitate. He tends to talk down to the players. He often warns them of particular things during his pre-game talk. I don't like this and I think it breeds some contempt among the players. The idea of giving them a laundry list of "don'ts" before the game strikes me as disrespectful. Avoid it if you can. Try and think about how what you are saying during your pre-game sounds to the players.
All in all, I'd say the U-19 game went pretty well. There were a handful of cautions, but I suspect that is pretty normal for the older guys. They play quite aggressively and can get mouthy at times. Match control skills are critical. I'm confident that, when the time comes, I can handle this type of game. I only missed it by a coin toss!
As I've mentioned before, I think there is more to being a good AR than most referees think. When you are an AR, do you do everything you can to make the referee's job easier? For example, make sure you take the initiative before the game and check the goals. Go get the game ball and verify the pressure with the gauge you have in your bag (you do carry a gauge, right?). During the game, are you mechanics as described in the "Guidelines and Procedures" book? Make sure they are correct. Also, do you watch your part of the field, even during stoppages in play? It's not very helpful to be looking at the same thing as the referee. Make sure you are looking at all areas, trying to spot signs of trouble. When it happens, be prepared to give the referee a full description of what you saw, presenting only the facts.

No comments: