Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

RSS FEED Subscribe Now!

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef
Panel Login

Question Number: 30407

Law 5 - The Referee 5/11/2016

RE: Recreational Under 15

Mike of Coudersport, PA USA asks...

Should a referee be coaching and instructing players during a game, and/or during the intermission of quarters?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mike
Clearly the answer to that is no and it rarely if ever happens. The referee is a neutral official so I am not sure why he would be coaching or instructing? I know done referees who compliment players on play and that is not a good idea either.
Referees are always reminded that when they have a conflict of interest such as a relative playing or a close connection with a club that the referee should not officiate games involving that club / team. The suggestion of bias does not then arise. Even if there is no bias any conflict of interest will always negatively affect opinions.
Now I recall many years ago when a referee failed to show at a game and both clubs agreed that the coaches would officiate a half each. In that instance the coaches did coach before the game and at half time. Obviously it did not happen during the game .
Final point I would make is whether the referee was instructing on the Laws of the Game. A well minded referee might take it on himself during a rec game to instruct on the laws of the game. Clearly not a good idea if it is misconstrued as coaching play or tactics.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee James Sowa


At younger ages, referees act as both an official and to an extent as a teacher for some of the laws of the game. For instance, if the ball is touched before leaving the penalty area on a goal kick, the referee may explain that this is a requirement to the player. Similarly, for a foul, the referee might explain why it was a foul to the player. That said, as the age and skill level increases, the dialogue from the referee to the players should decrease.

As to tactics and playing style, the referee should never comment or 'coach' the players through the game.

Read other questions answered by Referee James Sowa

View Referee James Sowa profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 30407
Read other Q & A regarding Law 5 - The Referee

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.