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Question Number: 31206

Mechanics 1/27/2017

RE: Youth to adult, comp and rec.

Barry Stewart of Chilliwack, BC Canada asks...

When I'm a centre ref and realize that I'm going to be in the way of a play: if there's no obvious exit for me, I clearly tell the player with the ball, 'I'll stay here.'

I then stand still until the ball leaves my immediate area.

My intention is that rather than dance around and perhaps confuse the space even further, I give the player (and defender) something to count on as he/she plans the next move.

It works for me but is this a good procedure?

Related question: is there a legal problem with a skillful player using an unwitting ref's leg or foot to make a play with the ball. I ask this, as I suspect it was done to me last week. It wasn't a harsh blast but the outcome was favourable for the player (no goal, though.) I didn't call it, but we had a little laugh over it later.

Related to that: how about if a throw-in was deliberately directed (lightly) at a ref's leg or foot to get a favourable bounce? I know the thrower couldn't play it first, due to the double-touch.

It is a legal play to throw the ball, lightly, at an unwitting opponent at a throw-in.

Thanks, as always.

Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

You said youth to adult, comp and rec. The younger the players and the lower the league level, the better the option of freezing in place is. You have less chance of knowing what way the play will go next, and you might move right into the path they were moving toward. And when the u-little rugrats swarm around the ball, you have more chance of backing into one of them. Don't forget, if you fall on top of small players, they squish.

Older levels, you need to learn to read the play better to know where you should be best positioned. That's not to say you'll never be in the wrong place, but you need to try harder to not be in the wrong place.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Barry
I believe that a referee should say little if anything to players during play. Players are concentrating on the game with multiple instructions from team mates etc. A player does not need or for that matter require another voice in the mix. Anyway it does little if anything for the player on the ball. He sees what is around him and decides accordingly
Now your question leads to a more important point which is positioning. If a referee is constantly getting in the way or mixed up with play he is putting himself in poor positions. Refs do not need to be so close to play that they get hit constantly with the ball or affect playing channels of opponents. Many observers opine that refs when they are too close that they miss important matters which can be off the ball offences or that they have a narrow focus on say the feet rather than including upper body as well. I feel that 20 yards away is as close as a referee needs to get. So be if he gets closer due to the way play unfolds. Many refs make the mistake of following the ball whereas the better position can be moving away from the ball with a better angle of view.
Also anticipation of what is going to happen is a good skill for referees to have and to develop. Having played the game to a high standard I have a good sense what is likely to happen. I also look at tactics of the teams and make my movement to anticipate what is likely to occur.
If a referee is being used as part of a wall pass then players have sensed that the referee is positioned in a way that helps that. If it is accidental it has prevented the ball going to the intended direction or recipient and either advantaged or disadvantaged the team which is always very unhelpful. I never like getting hit by the ball as one team is going to be peeved and that is never good.
On the throw in the referee should be no where near the thrower and if he is then he is in a poor position.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Barry,
The way you describe this, it sounds as if this happens to you relatively often, otherwise I'm not sure why you would feel it necessary to come up with a procedure for it. If so, then as my colleagues suggest, you may need to review your positioning. It does sound as if maybe you are getting too close to the play, too often.

I agree with ref Voshol that not moving may be a better idea with younger players, for the reasons he gives but with older players things are (usually) less crowded and again, unless you have got too close to the ball, there should be time and space for you to move out of the way. It almost sounds as if, at times, you are deliberately not moving out of the way of a player and forcing them to take evasive action to avoid a collision, which I don't think is the most desirable state of affairs.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Barry,
Other than the occasional, 'sorry chaps' if you do get in the way I generally do not tell players of my intentions given I am always trying to anticipate theirs and move or in some cases not move accordingly. The younger crowds of busy bees or the swarms of the less skilled can occasionally create some bruised feeling if not actual bruises given we are often a large immovable object they tend to bounce off of if we do not trip or squish them. So I agree remaining still might serve you better then back stepping into a crowd.

One of the best way to move is in straight lines at angle off those playing the ball simply because the quickest point between two places is in fact a straight line. It is not that we always go up and done lanes, we do on occasion if that is the best route but we often pick a diagonal angle that anticipates the direction of play trying not to get in the passing lanes while hoping our AR is getting a look in from the opposite side.

I tend to get a bit closer than twenty yards, possibly because my eyesight demand sit now a days lol Actually I do what I call run-byes where I gradually get closer then move off again. I try often to stay ahead of the play by anticipating the current level of tactical awareness each team displays and can think to be where play is headed before it gets there! Lol Still there is only so much one can anticipate and only so fast we can run. There is a notion on can get caught up looking down and miss what the free arm activities are at the top. Sometimes proving your level of fitness is compromised by your ego in trying to staying with play instead of managing play!

As the referee is consider as part of the field conditions it is certainly not impossible for player to deliberately bank a shot off an unsuspecting official. How hard and where might create some issues LOL As my colleagues mention be wary of being in the midst of things too often. You are correct to remain calm and do what you think is best under the circumstances but seek to avoid those circumstances by careful positioning and awareness of the skill and tactical abilities of those you are officiating.

There is almost no way I can see a throw in coming in off a referee,? An AR maybe? But it better be a gentle tap on a non vulnerable body part ! Same for an opponent . You can make a reasonable effort to do that to an unsuspecting opponent as well. However if it be too hard or at a vulnerable area and you could be on the red sleigh heading home.

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