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Question Number: 31317

Mechanics 3/7/2017

RE: Select Under 16

Matt of Bristow, VA USA asks...

Since I was trained in Virginia and have only really refereed in Virginia, I've never really had to contend with snow before or even given much thought to it. However, I'm refereeing in a tournament this weekend and the forecast is for snow.

This may sound silly, but how does snow impact me? Should I prepare differently? How does it impact mechanics?

My initial thoughts:
1) Dress warmer, use layers
2) Have a ball cap
3) Wear turf shoes
4) CR should expand his patrol and remain closer to the play in order to be able to differentiate between fouls and slips/falls.
5) ARs need to be on their toes and cover the goal line every time due to the increased potential for goalies to misplay the ball.
6) Discuss any mechanical impacts in crew pregame
7) Incorporate safety and any potential field issues into pregame communications with the teams and coaches.
8) Be aware of competition authority policies for snow events. e.g. how field closures will be communicated, etc.

What am I missing?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Matt
I would just look on it just like another game in inclement weather be it rain or whatever. Safety is paramount so pitch condition and inspection is vital.
My experience is that once the weather impacts so negatively that the game is no longer enjoyable it is time to call a halt. I have abandonded / suspended games that have had incessant hail showers that prevented the players from looking up to play the ball. No complaint from the players when I did so.
I have not done anything much different than a regular game other than trying to stay warm with good layers of thermal clothing. I know some pedantic officials suggest no gloves and I do not wear them yet writing has been difficult with numb fingers. More to do with not seeing hand signals than anything else. I know that UEFA match commissioners insist on the use of thermal kit including leggings, gloves in very cold locations such as Russia. The advice given is that the most important thing is to keep the feet warm. At Locomotive Moscow where temperature can drop really low for example, this is achieved through the use of specially heated insoles. Players even use them when the temperature is zero degrees. Another important piece of advice is not to use synthetic materials. Underpants, shorts, t-shirts: everything must be made from natural fabrics, preferably from wool, but at the very least from cotton. The same applies to gloves and hats. Apart from that, cheeks and nose can be smeared with a cream in order to prevent chill. I have found that by using liquid which is a combination of massage oil and embrocation oil on the legs that cold rain has less chill affect. Cold weather causes the blood to retreat to the core and warm essential organs, while embrocation redirects blood back into the extremities by stimulating blood vessels. Smells strong yet effective in staying warm. It is a tip that cyclists use in such cold conditions.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Matt,
I do admire the preparation and thought in your planning for eventualities. Well done I have no real additions other than to point out multiple matches are far different then one match. I have refereed with a toque and gloves as well as long sweats in extended tournaments where I referee more than just a single match during the day. My full beard protects my face as I go Santa mode during the late fall and winter.
A bit of snow is not a deal breaker but it does affect visibility and if the pitch becomes frozen then safety must be considered as unfortunately I have seen matches played on pitches that had no business being used for a match.
I suggest that the crew CR an ARs go for a run on the pitch in the pregame and then stop quickly in different areas looking to see if there is ground that is unsafe. Some times a shaded area can be a frozen concrete surface where the other end is pliable. If there is a layer of snow on the pitch it CAN insulate the pitch if it was not already frozen. I recall a whole lot of shovel pushing the PA areas surprisingly it was tacky muddy rather than hard. I think your number 8 point ahead of the time is important . Nothing beats effective communication. Your pregame with the ARs should reflect the safety concerns and a be careful if it is slippery but manageable is not unwise. Nor is it unwise to mention to spectators to stay away from the touchlines or the teams themselves of your concerns . Foul recognition is a real concern and I place the same degree of responsibility on players as if it was a heavy rain and a muddy or slippery surface where they need to be aware of their actions as slide will take then further and faster, so carelessness becomes reckless very easily.
A change of foot wear including socks if you do not have heated soles is not unwise particularly in slushy conditions. You adapt footwear based on the pitch. Hard surfaces like a artificial turf or a grass field partially or completely frozen, then long spikes going to be very bad Those half moon turf shoes or even a solid pair of sport shoes might be better.
The cycling idea my colleague mentions is great for a single match if you want to go commando style to impressive the shiverees lol Still your layered approach is not unwise. I had bigger issues with chaffing on really hot days trying to stay cool then bundling up for cold ones to stay warm.
One last bit of advice try not to get in the way or fall because landing on the cold wet ground while entertaining to those watching trying to referee effectively if you are cold affects attitudes and decisions.

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