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Question Number: 15195

Law 3 - Number of Players 4/16/2007

RE: REC, CLub, travel Under 12

Willie of Great Falls, MT USA asks...

Dear Sirs, I'm a coach of an U11 8v8 girls team. I had a center referee tell me that only one coach can offer tactical instructions from the technical area. We had 2 coaches shouting tactical instructions, since it was our first league game. Is this correct? Can only one coach shout tactical instruction?

Answer provided by Referee Chuck Fleischer

The old adage from my Marine Corps days was please don't call me sir, I know both my parents... I grew beyond that, now I'm a referee, call me when you have a question.

So Willie, was the other referee correct? Yup. It is found in Law 3, International FA Board Decision 2:


A team official may convey tactical instructions to the players during the match and he must return to his position after giving these instructions. All officials must remain within the confines of the technical area, where such an area is provided, and they must behave in a responsible manner.

End Quote.

The IFAB used the singular in allowing tactical instructions from the technical area. One it is.


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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

I find no problem with coaches taking turns conveying tactical instructions. It is a problem if both of them keep up a rather continuous banter.

By the way, if the coach or the coaches, whether singular or plural, find the need to continously direct play they haven't done their jobs in practice. Players need to be able to react more instinctively and less because of outside instructions. Players don't have time to hear the instruction, process and decide what the coach meant, and execute their play. I don't know how many times I've been out on the field and hear the coach trying to be a part of the play as if he had a joystick connected to the players. "John, go left. Justin, pass NOW. Jordan, fall back. Josh, trap the ball." And on and on. Maybe at the time the coach was thinking the instruction, the action would have been correct. But by the time the player figured out what the coach was saying, things totally changed. Justin shouldn't have passed the ball, because a lane opened wide in front of him. John tried to go left, only to meet up with the opponent who was going right. You get the idea.

Also, the more the coach talks, the less importance the players put on each individual instruction. Continuous banter comes across as "Blah, blah, blah."

Tactical instructions should be few and far between, when the coach is reminding the players what they learned in practice. If there are two coaches, say one for offense and one for defense, I have no problem. The defensive coach tells Jenny to play up closer to the center circle when the ball is in the other half. 3 minutes later the offensive coach tells an attacker to try a run down to the left corner and then cross the ball back. Those are great tactical instructions - and by the way, are better received as a quiet word than as a shouted command, as the opponents will hear all the shouting!

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

Supposed to be one at a time and, besides, your players aren't going to be able to listen to two of you at the same time anyway.

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Answer provided by Referee Steve Montanino

One at a time please. Though, I see no great sin in trying to teach 10 year old girls the game, just keep the law in mind for the next time.

Thanks for taking your time out to teach the kids.

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Answer provided by Referee Debbie Hoelscher

The playing of a game is not the time to be giving constant instructions. That's what practises are for. When one prepares for a piano recital, they practise prior to that event. Their teacher, mid phrase, doesn't come up and tell them which note to play when. I really wish more coaches would approach their practises and their games in this manner. This doesn't mean to say the coach shouldn't say anything -- a tactical correction to meet the opponent's game is of course reasonable. But micromanaging their players is over the top....and worse when more than one is up yacking more for their own nervous benefit, than to the player's benefit.

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