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Question Number: 32884

The Technical Area 11/19/2018

RE: Under 17

greg of madison, wi usa asks...

Is it strange/overkill to bring small cones (like the flat training cones teams use on warmups) to mark out technical areas on sidelines and/or the line for substitutes/coaches to stand behind?

Sometimes I can use other field markings (i.e. lightposts, the team's bench/tent, etc) to tell coaches to not pass, but I get so tired of not having indicators and having coaches go too far down the line, having coaches and subs constantly coming up to the touch line in the way of the AR1, etc

I wonder if bringing out cones would bee too much, and even if it was okay to do, how can you really enforce their use or punish players/coaches who repeatedly ignore them? Feels like the same when a coach consistently comes to the touch line and all you can do is say 'coach please get back' over and over

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Greg
In the past I have used cones to mark technical areas that were not marked out and where a pitch liner was not readily available. It worked as intended so there is no issue about using them.
Now as to coming outside the technical area I do not believe cones will make any real difference. Many coaches are so consumed by the game that they do not pay much heed to their location.
Now at lower levels of the game I believe that we should be somewhat relaxed about the technical area provided everyone is being respectful and that leaving the TA is not done for unsporting reasons. Stepping up to the line happens and I would be somewhat relaxed about that as long as the coach is acting in a responsible manner and moves back again. I give AR1 the responsibility of managing the technical area to his satisfaction so he can ask the coach to move back as appropriate
So in many of our games it is not unusual for coaches to wander outside the TA or come up to the touchline and referees and ARs tend to cut them a bit of slack.
However once the technical areas though starting misbehaving then zero tolerance kicks in with a reprimand required with either a request to sit down or move back to the area. Continued irresponsible behaviour will result in the removal of the offender.
Now I have acted as a 4th official in many games including some high level ones. Managing the area even as a 4th official can be difficult when faced with over zealous coaches. Many times the actions are aimed at providing coaching advice. From time to time it gets animated and focussed on the refereeing. Even with a 4th official it can be a challenge and unless there is obvious misconduct I believe that working with the occupants of the TA is the best way forward.
So my advice is to focus on the game inside the lines and only get involved with the TAs when asked to do so by the AR or the behaviour has become irresponsible.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Greg,
it is not without merit. I have done the same. It really is a matter of the field or green keepers and the association you work for to apply field markings that are in fact easily discernible. It is also a matter how serious the association is in permitting the referee enough support to move spectators away from the touchlines themselves as well as control an over excitable coach from leading the charge onto the FOP as play switches from end to end.

Open park pitches without stands! I have actually stopped play and addressed the fact that my ARs can not function by having to run inside the lines or having their line of sight blocked with coaches or spectators closing up along the touchlines and actually spilling onto the FOP to get look at ongoing play. I have on the very odd occasion threatened to suspend even abandon a match unless the problem resolved itself. I had a visiting team unable to make a throw in and the crowd was pressing forward with the local coach unwilling to assist me in keeping them back. I held up the match and informed the coach unless this was resolved the match would not continue. She eventually spoke to the crowd who backed off.

Often the teams are placed in the middle of a 4 field square using a bench system defined by actual lines or cones to mark out the technical area with the parents & fans along the outside perimeter and the teams in the middle on either side of their respective counterparts facing their fan base. This works well for the matches with just a small contingent of supporters & parents off a 20 team roster. Generally fans are not permitted close to the goals on open ended fields! Of course once we are into stadium or bleachers etc this is easier to enforce.

It is true that in unmarked venues we struggle with the occasional coaches who like to wander too much, in trying too hard, to convey more than just useful tactical info. I give a loud aggressive one who likes to comment on my refereeing FAR less leeway than the one really not interfering in play and may perhaps wander too far.

I ALWAYS address pregame the fact my ARs are NOT to be interfered with.
I tolerate NO disrespect or attitude directed at my ARs and the teams are told prior to kickoff to bring ANY concerns to me directly!
I have had coaches who think they can carry on a personal conversation with my ARs to have them hold their hand and explain my every decision. This would not last very long before we would speak on this issue!

99.9% of the time a simple, Please respect my ARs and their needs versus a rebuke of their great tactical instructions and their inability to not act reasonably. If we need to TELL them and must make a point of telling because our request to act reasonably has been ignored. Be sure the acts of attrition are egregious not just a power play to insult or belittle . Usually once a coach understands you are only trying to help him not get into trouble by explaining the issues most are excellent given they understand the need to set good example for the kids . Those that think they can ignore you do so at their peril.


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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


Hopefully, you do not encounter this problem when working high school games as the Team Areas are required to be marked in high school games. Also, the team area line must be at least 10 feet from the touchline.

As is indicated in NFHS Rule 1-5-1., your state association is to be notified if a team area is not marked. This can be done by you, your assignor, or in your game report if it is sent to the WIAA. Also, you should report this team area deficiency to the game manager and tell him/her that the rules require you to report the lack of team area markings to the WIAA. These actions should result in team areas at that school being marked in future games.

If a team area is not marked and you do have cones, I do recommend that you utilize them to mark the areas. However, you still must contact the WIAA office concerning the lack of markings.

As to a coach being outside the team area, high school rule 12-8-1f1 indicates that coaching outside the team area is a misconduct penalized with a caution (yellow card). However, I would recommend that if the coach is just a step or two out of the team area, that you give a verbal warning prior to giving a caution. If after a warning, the coach repeats being out of the team area, or if the coach is out of the team area near the touchline or far from the team area, that a caution (without a warning) be given.

I am aware that the Wisconsin high school fall soccer season ended earlier this month. Hopefully, you got to work some of the playoff games.

I wish you a very enjoyable Thanksgiving.

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