Sunday, December 14, 2008

Re-certification Topics

I attended my re-certification class this weekend. To me, it's interesting to see what topics are discussed at the clinic as it indicates where the state committee is seeing problems. Compared to last year, this year's clinic was broad in its coverage of topics.
As is done every year, we reviewed changes in the LOTG. You should review the USSF memorandum and the memorandum supplement on changes right away.
There are significant language changes to Law 1, but let's face it, we don't get too worked up about the ball, other than it being inflated properly and in good condition, do we? It seems the changes in the LOTG are often more applicable to the professional game.
In the "Dealing with Injured Players" section, the USSF tells us, among other things, that we need to more quickly evaluate injured players and make the decision on stopping the game or not. We should not depend on teams to do this on their own. It bothers me when I see a referee, who is honestly trying to teach nuances of the game, insisting that a obviously confused team kick the ball into touch. This happens when a player is laying on the ground, injured in some way. My opinion is, if you think the team should kick the ball out, you think the player is seriously injured. In this case, you should stop the game immediately and go with the drop ball.
Check out the interesting comments about Law 5 in the memorandum supplement. It clarifies something that I've thought about on occasion. Many referees will not end a game while the ball is not in play. They wait until the ball is put into play, and then blow for the end. My philosophy is to stop the game when it is over, regardless of what is going on on the field. I had a very wise referee once ask me "Is it fair the defense should have to defend longer than necessary?" If you think about it that way, it makes a lot of sense.
We are now told, as assistant referees, that we should indicate offenses when we have a better view, rather than being closer. Hopefully, if you are my assistant, you are doing that already!
The wording in Law 12 with regard to tackling has been changed. How many times have you heard "but he got the ball first!" yelled from the sideline after a player performed a slide tackle that wiped out the opponent as well? Now, we are told to merely look for a player that "tackles an opponent."
Moving on to the revisions of the "Interpretations of the Laws of the Game," you'll notice an interesting underlined section. It's the reminder that advantage can only be applied to violations of Law 12, or in other words, fouls and misconduct. There can be no advantage on things like offside infractions, throw-ins etc. This is important to digest as I see it on the field on a regular basis.
At the very end of the memo, we see the International Board reminds us that, as part of our game management skills, we should use some common sense and warn players who fail to respect the required distance for both throw-ins and corner kicks. They seem to acknowledge that blatant violations need to be caution, be we should use our ability to merely provide a stern look and warning. Our re-certification instructor pointed out this skill applies to free kicks as well.
Like last year in my state, penalty kicks were covered. Apparently, penalty kicks are a real problem. I gather there is a problem with referees not getting the restart correct when infractions happen during a penalty kick. It's really pretty simple. If the defending team cheats, its a goal if the ball goes in the net. It's a retake if it doesn't. If the attacking team cheats, it's a retake if the ball goes in the net. It's an indirect free kick if it doesn't. Here's the part I didn't realize. Let's say the attacking team comes into the penalty area just before the ball is kicked. Let's also say the shooter puts the ball way over the net. The restart is still an indirect free kick. The fact that the ball went over the goal out of play doesn't change the indirect free kick for the infraction. I hadn't thought about that before. By the way, if both teams cheat, it's a retake. Take some time to review Law 14 in your law book. Also, check out the training materials on FIFA's website.
We received a very well done presentation on dealing with bench issues. It seems the inspiration for this might have come from some of the materials I've seen for the Intermediate clinic (upgrade to 7). My key "take-aways" from the presentation will help me in my games. Our instructors pointed out that showing up to the game on time and looking professional will help avoid some of the problems one might experience with team benches. Also, they pointed out to be sure to walk directly over the both coaches and introduce yourself. It gives the impression that you are aware that the game is not about you. It's about the players.
After the game starts, you might have to deal with bench problems. As with player dissent, you must learn to ignore dissent from the bench that does not erode your authority in anyway. I'm referring to an occasional emotional outburst that disappears quickly. Try to avoid confrontation when confrontation is not necessary.
When it becomes necessary, stop play (if it's not stopped already) and inform the bench that you will be reporting the behavior. This is equivalent to a caution for a player. Make sure you follow through. Your game report must include all the facts. Also inform them that continued behavior will result in a dismissal, which is equivalent to a player send off. You must follow through with this. If you do dismiss bench personnel, do not start the game again until they are out of your ear and eye range. I did this once, and it was a real problem. If they refuse to leave, you simply terminate the game. Remember to include all details in your game report, as well as the offending personnel's coaching card. Obviously, a short paragraph describing this lengthy presentation makes it sound so simple. This situation can be highly emotional and confrontational. I think the key is to maintain your professional demeanor through the process. You cannot be overly emotional as this just escalates the situation. Our instructions reminded us of these key skills.
So that's my summary of this years re-certification. I've read some comments on a referee forum that suggest face-to-face re-certification is a waste of time. I'm not sure I agree with that opinion. It's only once a year and it's an opportunity to gain knowledge from the more experienced officials in your state. Take advantage of it by going in with an open, eager mind. Ask questions. If you find yourself a little bored, realize that you might be one of the more experienced officials and you can offer anecdotal situations to illustrate the instructors main points of emphasis.


Anonymous said...

Hi. Good comments about the recert clinic. One suggestion that I think that all of us referees could use is to recertify in July or August as then any rule changes from FIFA or USSF recommendations can be immeditately put into use. I do mine in August and I've had to 'instruct' both Centers and ARs in pregames. If well recertify early, it would relieve a lot of uncertainty and/or confustion.

The Referee said...

Mark, that's good input and a great suggestion. However, I have to ask, do other states allow you to do that? NJ only does re-certification between December and February.