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Question Number: 23406

Pre-Game 6/1/2010

RE: AYSO Rec Under 12

Mike Suarez of Chino Hills, CA USA asks...

This question is a follow up to question 22032

I just read the article by Gil Weber on the pre-game chat with the ARs. Frankly, I think it is way too much stuff. Personally, I like the advice that an instructor once gave to me after observing my pre-game chat. He said that ARs only retain three new things per match; so pick three topics appropriate for their level. If they are experienced, then make them three advanced directives. If not, then focus on the basics, such as offside. I tend to agree. I ref at the rec level, so I'm sure there is more to say at the premier level; but I doubt the ref would need to explain offside at the premier level.

Answer provided by Referee Gil weber

Mike, did you really read the entire article? If you did then perhaps these three paragraphs in the introduction did not register.

'As I stated in the original preamble, adapt these instructions to your own style and temperament. Don't try to repeat verbatim what you read here. Instead, think about the points I make, reflect on how I ask my assistant referees to deal with them, and then create your own pre-game spiel to meet the needs of your games and the experience levels of your assistant referees.

'This is particularly important when you're working with very young or inexperienced ARs. In their entirety these pregame instructions will utterly overwhelm a young AR who's probably still trying to get comfortable switching the flag from hand to hand.

'But assuming you're working with ARs who have some reasonable comfort level on the touchline, this should cover just about everything. And so with that introduction, here goes.'

As you can plainly see in that introduction I made it very clear that the pregame must be conducted with consideration for the experience level of the ARs and the level of the game. At the game level you're working and with 'newbie' ARs the assessor's comments about limiting the discussion to three topics might be appropriate. Certainly the pre-game discussion for a U-12 AYSO match would in no way resemble my extensive pre-game discussion which was written to cover most anything that might come up in any level match.

So use what you can from my pregame, but don't discount the vital importance of the subject matter I covered if someday you advance beyond the relative informality of rec soccer.

Oh, by the way, Pierluigi Collina was famous for his pregames which often took two (2) hours. In addition to covering the sorts of issues I described, he also had an extensive discussion on team tactics and what to watch for from individual players.

Gil Weber

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

While the skill level of the assistant referees will greatly affect the nature of the pregame, the things that Gil covers are things that I will normally cover in a U12 match.

Your assistants need permission to become involved in the match (appropriate to their skill level). A good pregame talks about when to get the referee's attention no matter what! (Fail to sendoff after a second caution, about to award a PK on a 100 percent dive; there is a fight or an injury needing immediate attention).

Offside decisions are better when the AR waits for active involvement. A good pregame reminds them to wait. Since waiting increases the chance that the referee will miss the flag on the first glance towards the touchline, a good pregame also addresses when to lower a missed flag.

Do you want assistance on keeper movement for a penalty kick. If the referee doesn't discuss it, the assisant doesn't know what you prefer.

Are you strict on substitutions about when the player enters (an easier topic given AYSO substitution opportunities)? Do you want the AR to count players before restarting and give a signal?

Finally, it is likely that the assistants know something about the two teams. If the pregame is a discussion rather than a lecture, the referee will find out.

A wise instructor once told me that conflict occurs when reality doesn't match expectation. Unless the referee discusses how the assistants can help in this match, it is likely that the AR will do something that the referee doesn't expect.


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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

Way too much stuff? Nah. What it does is give you a template. You can pick and choose what works for the games you will be doing, and with the level ARs you will have.

There is a great deal of good information in there, especially for items like penalty kicks, and for youth games what your AR needs to do if there is too much interference from the coach or the fans for them to do their job. Do they know to get your attention? How?

Sometimes it is much better to ask them questions than to give a speech. In this situation, for example - at a PK and the keeper has moved way early, how would you let me know? What is the signal if the ball has left the field and returned? Have you seen the new penalty kick signal? Do you count the players on your side every time we have a mass substitution, after a goal and halftime? When do we flag for offside? What do you do if I wave it down? If nothing else it refreshes their memory, may jog a question out of them which will actually be a learning experience.

Heck, those discussions may actually save your rear end sometime!

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

I disagree and don't believe an AR can only handle three things. Ref Weber's Pregame article is thorough and informative. Sad fact is most referees do a terrible pregame or none at all. Given the time I'd try to cover as much as Ref Weber but even given the usual 5-10 minutes we have for a pregame chat I try to at least mention much of what he has written. Bare MINIMUM should include position of AR to cover offside, positions at goal, corner, and penalty kicks, give authority to AR1 to check players in and inspect them when told to leave for equipment change, advantage and how I apply it and how they should also, strict adherence to substitution policy, designate which AR will carry on if I cannot continue, what I consider trifling, when to call fouls, what constitutes deliberately handling the ball and kicked to the keeper, flag mechanics, and to drive home that if one of them needs to get my attention immediately to do whatever it takes to do just that. That's a lot more than 3 things and ARs do just fine

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