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Question Number: 31612

Mechanics 6/20/2017

RE: rec, select Under 17

gary of nashua, nh usa asks...

During an assessment as a center, my assessor said I should be at the drop zone during free kicks, can anyone elaborate on this term? I always felt as long as I could see the ar and stay about ten yards away from the players , I was fine.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Gary<
free kicks on set ups perhaps like a goal kick or a deep defensive clearance from the PA or a ball flighted in on a corner kick or from distance into the PA for a scoring threat? In these cases you go to where the ball is being delivered to in anticipation of what you believe will occur.

Ten yards away is in fact more of a generalization you want to be close in around the PA just not very often inside of it or when you can foresee the tackle being initiated but if you really pay attention most referee's are a good 15 to 25 yards away from most following play because we are always trying to get good angles and trap play between our AR eyes as well as our own . WE trust ARs when the ball is out in from of them so we do not overcommit to go close in there instead we drift over to where it is likely the ball will wind up in front of the goal for a shot or a pass. I like to stay ahead of the play in the middle thirds of the field as the ball is being pressed forward towards my position. I try to sense how the attack develops so as not to be in the way of the pass and allow the play to pass me into the PA or corner as I swing wide for angles. Then I must be ready for the reversal of fortune if the attack fails and defenders' counter attack I need to get out ahead of the ball to do the exact same NO referee gets it right 100% as we are in the way of players or the ball by misreading the play or a weird deflection or a poorly played ball or a lesser skilled team makes choices that undermine our anticipatory actions.

Run straight lines rather then follow play if you get behind to get even, then cut over. Drift or sidestep to get angles. Think on when to backup or stay still in tight quarters. Unless you are much faster than the players following them around rarely works well. Anticipating play in hockey we called it going Gretzky in soccer call it going Collina

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Gary,

The 'drop zone' is simply the spot where you expect the ball to first land - so it applies to goal kicks, keeper drop-kicks - anything!

The referee doesn't want to be right in the drop zone because that's just in everybody's way. You typically want to adopt a roughly side-on view to the likely drop zone, with your AR in view. To be more precise, you probably want to be side-on but downfield a little, looking across and a little ahead - sort of forming a triangle between yourself, the ball and the AR. But it depends. In the PA you often have a lot of players standing in a line so directly side-on may actually restrict your view. In the middle of the field, that's less an issue so directly side-on is fine. Probably gives you a better view as the likely foul is a push in the back.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Gary,
As ref Wright says, the drop zone is the zone you except the ball to drop into when it has been (or is going to be) kicked into the air. My colleagues have given some positioning pointers already but as I mentioned in your other question, in the Laws of the Game section on AR/AAR positioning, the position of the referee is also shown. You might like to take a look at that section, pp 177-185 in the 2017-18 edition of the laws.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Gary
The late Referee Bob Evans developed a model called the Angle of View where he espoused the concept of viewing challenges between players from a side on position. To do that referees have to ensure that in challenges that they are not looking at the face on view of the players yet rather their side. It is easier to see a foul challenge such as a push, pull, trip from 30 yards to the side rather than 10 yards from the front or back of the players. It is the reason why the diagonal system is employed by many as it most times puts the referee in that position side on position.
Now the trick is to be side on and no more than 15 yards from the play in a position where one can see any challenge without being in the way of play or subsequent play. So when the observer says drop zone he means where the ball is going to drop from a kick, throw, punt etc.
At a free kick if the ball is going to be launched into the penalty area the referee has to consider where the ball is going to land and be challenged for either on the ground or in the air. Once a referee anticipates that he can position himself accordingly in a way that he sees the ball, the players from a side on position, has his AR in view and not in the way.
On some plays it is relatively easy such at a punt where the referee can judge the distance the ball is going and be side or close thereto on to any challenge for the ball. The same will apply to throw ins down the line which can be based on where the targets are located.
At a free kick the kicker may have options if going left or right so the referee has to make a judgement call on what is going to be the play based on what has happened previously or most likely to happen. Same will apply to corner kicks where say the majority of kicks are in front of the near post then expecting the ball at the back post is not going to help view the subsequent play in the drop zone that is where the ball ends up and is challenged for.

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