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Question Number: 27954

Law 5 - The Referee 10/29/2013

RE: Rec Under 13

Brendan of Folsom, CA US asks...

Most often, I referee the younger ages. My question can apply for any age range though. I probably have about 25 games in as a ref.

Is it OK if I, as a center ref, prevent a foul from occurring by using my voice to tell the player important information?

For example, say a goalie is holding the ball for 5.75 seconds, can I tell them 'you need to get rid of that ball NOW?' (in my mind, the keeper does not know when the six seconds started; as she already had the ball for 10 seconds, three of those I did not count because defenders were not clearly out of her way). I really do not want to blow the whistle here under any circumstances.

Or say a player plays a ball back to the keeper and the goalie is about to reach down and pick up the ball (or is hesitant to do so), can I say, 'no touching right now' or 'do not handle that ball' (In my mind, it may be good for the keeper to know that I believe the ball was intentionally kicked back to her and not have to guess.) Again I really do not want to have to award the IFK here.

Or say a younger does a corner kick and the ball only goes out a couple feet and she is trying to decide if she can kick it again, can I say 'you are not allowed to kick it again until someone else touches it'?

I guess what it comes down to, if I am able to prevent a foul from occurring by using my voice, is that OK? Isn't it similar to saying 'watch those elbows Number 7'?

If there is a mad scramble going on or if what I am saying would be a total distraction, then it's probably best to keep quiet, but for those times when I can make the difference and improve the flow of the game, should I or can I say these types of things?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Brendan
As a general rule it is not a good idea to 'coach' players on infringements. When you do so loudly it can be interpreted against the referee in an unfavourable way by the opponents either as showing favouritism or not making the call.
For example on the 6 second rule your shout to the GK can be interpreted as an offence that is not called. If your call is not heeded immediately then you must call it. Instead have a quiet word with the GK at a stoppage such as a corner kick, free kick etc by saying 'Keeper I need you to release the ball quickly and within 6 seconds. Do you understand?'. Also it makes no difference if defenders are in the way. The GK has to make her way out of that position. If an opponent is preventing release then make the call which can stop that behaviour.
Same goes with the deliberate kick to the GK. It is up to the coaches to train the GK what is acceptable. If there is a doubt then don't call it but also the GK should kick rather than handling the ball when there is none. Maybe the IDFK is a better option for the team rather than a mis kick to an unmarked opponent? Let the player make the choice and perhaps by being advised by team mates / coach with a shout such as 'Don't / Pick it Up'.
Same goes with the possible foul. If the player uses an elbow then call it. The free kick has a much better learning effect than advice plus the opponents could think that No 7 is using the elbow illegally and the referee has clearly seen this and is not calling it.
Now by all means advise players when the ball is out of play such as before a free kick or corner about keeping hands down, pushing, impeding etc. During play the referee can speak to players about calming down, responding to claims such as "Nothing there" " No Foul" ""Not deliberate". That is advice to both sides at the same time.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

The art of refereeing is managing players so that the game remains fair, safe and fun. Proactive refereeing is an important part of the art, but what you say and how you say it are important to retain the player's belief that you are impartial.

The wise referee uses terms that remind without coaching. Moreover, the players have to be old enough to understand. IMO, below U14, it is probably better just to call the foul. The players have enough noise in their ears from coaches and parents that the only words from the referee that they will hear are from a short, quiet conversation when the ball goes out of play. For the olders and adults, these are some of my favorites:

'Keeper, watch your time!' will remind the keeper there are only six seconds. The words don't appear to be ignoring fouls or helping either side.

'Keeper, watch your line' will end keeper's trying to push the envelope when they are punting the ball near the 18.

'Hands down' can eliminate many holding, pushing and striking fouls. Moreover, when the player continues to grab and you blow the whistle, everyone knows why.

'Steady!' Some coaches hate it when someone plays 'easy' since they want their players to give 100% and are concerned about injury when someone pulls up. 'Steady' however, simply lets the players know you are close and watching and to not do something foolish. 'Steady' is one of my favorites.

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

I don't see anything wrong with warning the keeper that she is close to the end of the penalty area or to watch her time as Ref Wickham states, regardless of age. But the rest of what you are talking about should be reserved for U10 or U8 Rec players and then only if it is League policy for the Referee to also be instructional at those lower age groups. The League I used to work for wanted the referees to be proactive at U10 Rec and below but not at U10 Select. The opinion was that the Coaches at these lower age recreational teams by and large did not know the Laws (Having been one of those coaches before becoming a referee I can attest that opinion was correct) and part of the Referees job was to instruct the players as to what was allowed. But any age higher than U10 we called the foul for things like passback violations.

That said, taking to the players 'in general' and saying things like 'elbows', 'watch the hands' and the like is certainly ok and lets the players know you are aware of what is going on before anything gets out of hand.

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