Monday, October 26, 2009

It's Been a Slow Fall

If you live in my area of the country (mid-Atlantic states), you know how much bad weather we've been having.  Once again, my Sunday games were canceled.  However, my assignor called and asked my son and I to report to a different field to work with a 3rd referee that had been assigned to do his games alone.  Interesting, because that tells me that my assignor doesn't have as many active referees as I thought.  Anyway, we did just that and managed to get in a couple of short sided games (U-9 and U-10).  I always enjoy these games, as they are usually fun and have very little stress associated with them.
One observation I have is that the coaches seem to misbehave in the short-sided games more often than the coaches of the older teams.  However, they misbehave i a different way.  They complain about calls far more often, but in a way that is less offensive  than their large field colleagues.  The dissent you get from these coaches is more of the nature of the guy you see in the stands at professional games that is always yelling at the officials.  It's part of the experience for them.  While it is dissent, it's almost comical in the lack of soccer knowledge that it displays.  Do you notice the same thing?
Substitution Problem
It's a pretty typical problem.  Generally speaking, the substitution procedure is not enforced in youth soccer.  Therefore, most teams don't really have a good idea how it works.  Because it is typically not enforced, it's tough for the next referee to enforce it as they teams feel that "it wastes time."  Of course, many referees don't add lost time either, exacerbating the problem.
Apparently, I can't count.  At least I can't count accurately up to 8. Because the teams were being sloppy with their procedure, I was being careful to count the players on and off as the game went.  I was the AR on the team side and I see that as part of my job.  At one point, I noticed one of teams counting the players, during play, and call one of theirs off the field.  I walked up and counted the players with the coach.  I counted 8...2 times.  To make a long story short, the referee counted the players at the next stoppage and counted 9.  What's really annoying for me is I also counted the players at the last substitution and got 8.  I think I'm getting old.
All of this brings me to my thoughts on youth soccer substitutions.  The US Soccer Development Academy has substitution rules that are different from the typical youth rules.  In the Development Academy, substitutions are allowed on any stoppage of play.  However, the academy also has limited re-entry rules.  Once a player comes off, they cannot re-enter the field until the next half.  I think this does two things.  First, it causes coaches to really think about their substitutions instead of taking advantage of the "revolving door" rule we have now.  I've had games were there were substitutions every 4-5 minutes.  Academy games have perhaps 1 or 2 substitutions per half.  Second, I think it formalizes the substitution procedure.  Because of the limited re-entry rule.  Players present their passes when they come on for a substitution.  Since they must present their passes, it slows the process down and makes it so the player can't just run on the field.
I guess the argument against the academy way of doing things is you could argue it's harder to get players adequate playing time.  I don't know if I buy into that though.  I think it improves things because coaches can no longer break up playing time into 5 minute chunks.  It improves the flow of the game for the fans as well as the players.  It makes the game far easier to manage, in my opinion, for the referees.  What do you think?  Send me a comment and let me know.  Is there a downside to this I'm not seeing?


Jonathan said...

Hey, just found your site while looking for stuff on buying uniforms. Glad to see it and I plan to check back here. I'm a ref with about 8 years experience, mostly on Long Island.

Amen on subbing. I advise them to do it right before every game, but every game they break every rule—where to go on, come off, and a few weekends ago I caught two teams with an extra man. No I did not show a yellow card. And yeah, I want to add extra time, but it's not possible in a tournament. You do what you can, realizing that FIFA is writing for pros doing one game a day in a stadium and I'm reffing youths doing 5+ games a day on a municipal field. I'm happy to have four corner flags.

The Referee said...

Good to have you reading Jonathan. Yeah, I agree with you. I'm happy to see a couple of goals and something that passes for lines! It's all good.

Jonathan said...

Sure enough, right after writing this, I did a game without corner flags :-(