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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 29296

Law 6 - Assistant Referee 4/10/2015

RE: Competitive Under 15

Derek of Cary, IL US of A asks...

As a referee in youth competitive leagues I frequently have ARs that are not as helpful as I would like them to be. They are either trained inappropriately or they simply do not have the experience that is needed. These are mostly kids only slightly older than the players.
For example, I have had ARs flag for a person simply being in an offside position. Others have not kept the offside line and instead get confused about where they should go. I have also had ARs who have taken abuse from coaches and parents without telling me.
I want to protect my ARs and help them. I assume that they have done this before and can handle themselves, but sometimes they are detrimental to keeping order in the game. I don't want to dismiss my ARs, but can and should I restrict their responsibilities? And which? Anything else that I can do to help my ARs?

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Derek,

This is one of the difficulties referees at parks level often face - handling ARs of differing experiences and skills.

Personally, I believe handling this begins the moment all 3 officials arrive at the field. Talk to your AR's, and as you do try to get a measure of their experience level - even by asking how long they've been doing it and what sort of games they've been getting. If they're fairly new, or new to that level, ask how they've been enjoying it, if they've had any issues, that sort of thing. Through this conversation you'll get a measure if they're inexperienced and looking to learn or if they can stand on their own 2 feet. This will help you determine the role you want to take - sometimes you take more of a 'mentor' role in discussion pre/post match.
Keep these things in mind when it comes to your actual prematch discussion when you're issuing your instructions. If you're finding, for instances, that flags are being raised simply for offside position, then have you covered this in your prematch discussion?
As you should now have an idea of how experienced/confident your AR is, you'll know whether to keep the instructions fairly basic, or whether you can move onto some more advanced areas of assisting (managing nearby players, subtle signals, that sort of thing). Or whether you keep it onto the very basics of offside, ball in/out, whether they're managing subs, and maybe calling a nearby, blatant foul if they feel up to it and you haven't shouted it down. Your earlier conversations will help determine what your expectations of them are.
And don't forget to ask if there are any questions - and remind them that if you overrule them to drop the flag immediately, and that it isn't personal. And if you do, discuss it with them afterwards.
Sounds like your AR's are very inexperienced. So consider reminding them on how to apply Law 11 and positioning in general play as well as at corners/goal kicks / free kicks, eye contact, and the importance of watching the players and not the ball. Anything else (fouls, managing players, etc) is a bonus and probably not important at this level; the most important for them is getting the basics right, so if you get the impression they're fairly inexperienced or lacking confidence, then focus on covering the basics. And that's why the informal chat is so important - because you'll not only learn about their experience, but you'll also see how confident they are as people.
So it's not so much about restricting responsibilities as it is delivering fairly simple expectations in your prematch discussion.
So perhaps one thing you really need to reconsider is what instructions you're delivering before the game.
And if, during the game, you get the impression that the AR is not much better than having no AR as well then adjust yourself to suit - adjust your positioning to minimise your reliance on that AR, and try to make your decisions faster to get in first (as long as you told them to just mirror you if you signal first!).

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Derek
There are a number of issues here. Clearly training and education is a responsibility for the local refereeing body. There is also ample education material on the web to assist with training and development.
Now the second part is that the game on the day is the referees responsibility. He is in charge of the game and he is assisted by two ARs. As Referee Wright states the key to this is the pre match discussion with the ARs the moment the team is together at the field. The referee should be clear what duties he requires the ARs to carry out during the game. If the referee feels that the ARs are very junior he can inquire what level of games that they have done and restrict their responsibilities.
On offside I am very clear to ARs on the advice with an opening line *Its not an offence to be in an offside position so wait and see what develops before flagging....... *
If I feel that they are very junior ARs I will not give them responsibility for all fouls in their vicinity or penalty decisions unlike a senior AR or referee. I will also tell them that I may wave down the flag and not to be upset about that.
As regards abuse I also cover that and I give them the responsibility to deal with it themselves or if they cannot to call me across to deal with it. If they don't call me across then so be it. I cannot deal with something I am not aware off and if they decide that it is acceptable to take abuse then unfortunately there is nothing as a referee I cannot do anything about it if I'm not aware. Sometimes I hear from my AR after games about what was said / commented and I was not aware of it. That is the ARs choice based on his tolerance levels.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Derek,
I want to address the ABUSE issue!
If you are CR, your ARs are OFF LIMITS to ANY abuse by ANYONE!
Tell this to the players and coaches at the team id and or equipment check and again to the captains at the toss. As they say, you bring that S--t to me! If the ARs FAIL to advise you, then that is their burden! Your responsibility though is to ensure they know YOU will be there, when needed! There is a reason why we keep eye contact and go thumbs up and smile as we run up and down. I often ask ARs, Everything good? If you get no eye contact, no smile, no thumbs up, go check it out!

Officials, like players, are a variety of ages and skill levels!
I wager the first you lay eyes on these ARs is 5 minutes before match time?

Are you aware that ARs and CRs meet before matches and or will initiate phone contact ahead of most pro matches? They take their PREGAME very seriously! I would say not so much at the park level.

The reality is recreational time is short, so proper training and consistency goes a long way into everyone integrating into a standard operating system. There is the terminology we now use, Assistant Referees, not linesmen, but fully functional officials!

In the PREGAME, officials talk over their views , exchange ideas, it is not just a speech to inspire, but an understanding of the responsibilities and actions you are about to undertake.

There is a pregame check list on the site by one of our panel members Gil Webber. This is not a memorized regurgitated sermon, but you could select the essence of what is required, tailored to your own needs. During the pregame be sure you solicit QUESTIONS from the ARs.

A good CR will introduce themselves and ask the ARs how long they have been involved, try to get a feeling of their overall competence and experience. We often refer to the group of officials as a ...-TEAM-... something that works together to achieve a good result. I often see lip service paid to the idea but not the practical application of working together. There is as much inexperience as ego involved in these discussions because the opinion of the AR and the opinion of the CR are not seeing the same things. ARs complain the CR is dismissive of their input ! CRs complain the ARs are not providing helpful support or trying to wrest control away.

Each individual has his or her own characteristics and whether we come off humble or arrogant, terse or friendly the CR in charge needs to delegate authority but also assume responsibility for AR decisions. Your assessment of their foul recognition, their situational awareness, their understanding and implementation of the laws are going to be gleaned in the pregame. The ARs must understand the CR premise of HIS MATCH! HIS DECISION! HIS REPUTATION!

We want to inspire confidence in our ARs so they are not feeling belittled or ignored. Ask them directly, How comfortable are you with the mechanics of ARing, keeping eye contact, flag signals?

Tell the ARs not to take offence, if overruled, waved off or occasionally ignored! Make note for the halftime or post game as you want to know when you screw up but as CR we can forget to look back or across and check, just as easily as an AR can lose their concentration and focus.


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