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Question Number: 20943

Law 5 - The Referee 3/8/2009

RE: select Under 11

mike of bethlehem, pa U.S asks...

hi my name is mike and i just passed my test for being a referee and i am wondering is it really nerve racking for your first game? cause im 14 and im kind of nervous of making a bad call

Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

Congratulations! I'll bet you learned a great deal in your entry level course, so think positively. The good news is you'll be as prepared as you can be without any experience. The bad news is all referees will make bad calls. So just relax and do the best you can.

The trick is to try to make sure you make as few bad calls as possible! The only way to guarantee you'll never make a bad call is not to start, so look at this way - you're already ahead!

Blow the whistle loud (practice in your back yard until your mom makes you stop - that way you'll know you are loud enough!), make eye contact with the coaches at the beginning of the game when you shake their hands, with the players when you make a call and with your assistant referees at every opportunity. This gives you confidence, or at least makes you look confident until you truly feel that way.

Dress smartly, with a clean uniform, pulled up socks, clean shoes, tucked in shirt and your shiny new badge on straight. Look like you know what you're doing and folks will think you do! It's magic. But like magic, it disappears when it is just an illusion. So your job is to make it true.

After the game, make a list of questions you have about calls you made or decided not to make. Ask a more experienced referee for answers or advice, and/or look them up in your Law book. Think about the times you weren't sure what to do. Make a note of those, too, and look them up or ask someone you trust.

And then get out there and do it again - lots and lots. It's fun, and you get paid. How cool is that?

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

Mike, best of luck with your new adventures into the game. Welcome to the refereeing fraternity.

Unforunately, youth referees have at most 5 minutes to demonstrate to coaches and parents that they are not incompetent. (You don't have to impress the U8 to U12 kids.) If you show up in sloppy dress, partial uniform, funky shorts, droopy bright colored socks, shirt untucked and flopping, you have wasted those minutes.

Arrive at the field in plenty of time to do a complete check. Make sure the goals are securely fastened to the ground. Look for debris and dog leavings on the field; if found, inform the home coach to correct it. Do whatever team check-in the league requires of you, but don't give them speeches about how to play the game - they won't listen anyway, and if they do happen to listen, they'll only use it to trip you up later.

Make your calls confidently, even if you don't feel confident. Crisp signals, loud whistles from the opening kickoff (except when only a quick chirp is needed). Don't whistle excessively - make them understand that your whistle means something, that when you blow it you want them to respond.

Don't talk back to players, coaches and especially spectators. In the recreational teaching leagues, giving a short explanation of a rule when the team clearly doesn't understand is good, if you have the time to do it.

Remember that you have the authority at the field, not the adults (coaches/parents) who usually wield it. But don't abuse that authority; use it wisely.

After the game continue acting as a professional. Complete whatever paperwork is required (often team signatures confirming the scores). Report any misconduct that has happened immediately. If you are not sure how to report or what to say, ask the assignor that put you on the game.

And don't forget to get paid! After all, you're doing this for fun and the healthy activity, but also as an alternative to flipping burgers. Different leagues have different policies about how, who and when pay is given. Follow the procedures.

Let us know how it goes after a few games.

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Answer provided by Referee Chuck Fleischer

Hello Mike. Best you can do is whistle every bit of foul play you see! Reason? Your foul recognition is going to be way low and whistling helps in two ways: it teaches you how to whistle and your foul recognition improves as you make a mistrake or two [and you will, we all did].

From there just have fun and keep yourself positioned so you can see through play and see an assistant without having to turn away.


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