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Question Number: 29893

Mechanics 11/5/2015

Scott of Livermore, CA USA asks...

This question is a follow up to question 29890

Would you mind describing the actual mechanics you use for a sporting restart when you are not sure if the teams fully understand it? I've worked younger or rec games where if I suggest it the players look at me like I'm talking a foreign language. I am hesitant in getting too involved in telling them what to do, as that seems to be coaching, and if there is a problem with an attacker jumping an easy pass back to the keeper, I've got a major problem. Often I find having a contested drop ball is a lot easier... and safer.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Scott,
each referee is their own advocate for fair play. You should only do what you feel comfortable. You stop play for an injury to blue when red has the ball. The idea is red should get the ball back if those playing grasp the essence of fair play.

One key for me is the LOCATION of the drop ball. The other is the skill/age level and the understanding/expectations of those involved. Some drop balls are as you suggested better left alone simply as the best choice all around. Others could do with a bit of intervention in a way to promote fair play thinking as to fairly get play restarted. Location edge of the goal area 6 yds. directly in front of red goal. I go to the red PA and say, Keeper I am dropping the ball to you, give me a second to get back out before you punt it ok? Red keeper happy to oblige. I never said blue could not participate. I simple chose to offer it in a manner so they might assume this was a standard procedure. The LOTG do not say I must whistle to restart or that more than 1 team must participate only that I can not stop either team from participating if they wish.

If there is a situation where a FAIR PLAY restart is to be considered. Just ask the players!
'You have an option of returning the ball to the team that had possession before I stopped play. Do you wish to do so?'
'No? well as long as you understand you reap what you sow! '
' Yes! Then I will drop to you, no one will bother you , when the ball hits the ground, you can knock it into touch for a throw in or kick it down field for the opposing keeper to get it. You tell your team what you want to do!
Nice display of sportsmanship gentlemen! Just like the big boys in the EPL!'

In a recreational league there was this goofy policy of players all going down to take a knee to force a stoppage if it looked like a player was hurt, in any manner, usually younger ages . The idea was steeped in morality just not practicality as every time a guy fell they dropped right away . There was no reason to take a knee simply for falling down. Plus they contested EVERY drop ball and often kicked the opposing player while doing so.

In a tournament, teams from other cities arrive. The U12 team has a local green player try to slide tackle a blue player from another city. Green player comes off 2nd best ,stays down, Blue, continues attack, green coach screams to players, green players stop playing take a knee, blue players wondering what was going on start to stall out but the blue player with ball continues and scores goal. Green team furious that blue did not all stop and honor this take a knee so their injured player could get relief. The green player was simply tired, mad cause he missed the tackle and cried a little tear of frustration not derived of great pain or injury. You can not force Fair Play nor should you try to do the referees job in deciding if play required to be stopped . Teams learn as they progress what the right thing to do is as they experience and see for themselves. All a referee can do is point the way with as little interference as possible . I still maintain referees at the youth age are in a teaching mode as much as anything and should be working with coaches to instill good habits as a benefit to the game itself!. Remember the referee gauges the seriousness of an injury but the players can over rule him by kicking the ball out of play and the other team can choose to return the ball as an option.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Scott
I would not get too concerned about Fair Play restarts. If the teams dont know then I believe it is up to the coaches to give the instructions from the touchline such *Kick it back to the goalkeeper* or whatever not the referee.
The only ones that I would be concerned about are the ones that a goal can be scored from inside or around the penalty area or where field position gets changed dramatically from one half to deep in the other or where possessions gets coughed up say from the GK s possession with a DB. At underage I'm wary of the long kick back to the goalkeeper or for a throw in / goal kick . That at very young ages can set up field position for a poor punt, kick, throw which is unfair. The team may be better with a contested DB in the opponents half rather than going all the way back to the GK.
In some of those I dont really give the opponents much choice on the matter and when the game is ready to go again I drop it directly beside the goalkeeper if he had the ball or I might advise the player to kick it out for a throw in beside me. A player may come forward to say that they will give it back and I just say it is okay the GK has it or I may look for it to be contested if I think it is going to be unfair. As you say it is a bit safer. The only other issue there is to ensure that it does not cause ill feeling from the team that expects to get it back. Take some time and evaluate what is happening and what are the options. Ask the players around the ball what do they want to do. They may look for advice from the coaches. As Referee Dawson says the referee can proffer some advice. The final point I would make is to think through before stopping the game requiring a dropped ball. Is it really necessary and it may be with a head injury, goalkeeper holding the ball etc. When thought through the referee can manage the situation in the best way for the game and for himself.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

My approach, your mileage may differ:

At U-littles, I do nothing to promote a sporting return. The players don't understand, and the drop ball restart creates no issues since no player expects a sporting return. When the dropped ball is inside the penalty area, I will drop it to a place where only the keeper can pick it up. Note: some coaches are teaching players to kick the ball out for a throw-in, as an alternative to a sporting return; for the younger players, I think that is a great development in the tradition but it is not something I believe the referee can promote (yet).

At youth amateur, I inform the nearest players: 'red, white had possession of the ball when play was stopped, do you want to do a sporting return?' Usually, this is also the point where the red coach is telling the players to kick the ball back to white. Sometimes they say 'no', but usually will they say, 'yes.' This is the point where I believe the referee can be proactive. Asking the kicker to tell all of their teammates what they are doing can avoid the problems that happen when someone (usually the striker) doesn't get the word and intercepts the ball. I don't drop the ball until they have shouted out the directions to the teammates. (Note: I don't shout out directions; the players do.)

At adult amateur, I am on red alert. Players expect a sporting return, and rage can lead to broken legs when expectation doesn't match reality. First issue: who really had possession? The teams may disagree. If they disagree, I announce who had possession. Second issue is the same as above - did everyone get the word? Third issue is execution: I need to plot how I get from dropping the ball to my next position. If the return is done poorly and leads to an immediate attack, I need to be close to the play to deal with the potential for fouls and misconduct. That may require me to ask the kicker to wait a few seconds after I drop the ball before returning it as I sprint up the field.

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