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Question Number: 32403

Mechanics 4/25/2018

RE: Travel Under 13

Ethyn Fleischmann of Indianapolis, Indiana United States of America asks...

How does somebody get better at foul recognition?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Ethyn,
short answer HARD WORK!
it's a great question, you will find there is no way other than to

play Play PLay PLAy PLAY the game!

referee Referee REferee REFeree REFEree, REFEREe REFEREE!

Watch all others referees, learn from their mistakes, you do not have time to make each one yourself right away, in time likely! lol

Mentoring, training, monitoring & assessing CONSTANTLY!

Learn the LOTG inside out backwards & forwards.

selectively LISTEN to the players
occasionally LISTEN to the coaches.
They will often dissent due to their need to win or self centered perspectives but undercurrents develop & missed calls do happen! Learn to distinguish resentment from mistakes.
TRY hard to ignore the screaming parents but with an earful of compassion!

ASK the players, coaches & parents for feedback. Not condemningly, condescendingly, or with ridicule, you accept the input & THINK about wearing their shoes for a bit! .
You also do this in NON hostile environments, not like running away from a lynch mob into the parking lot with a quick auto start, vehicle pointed out to leave the angry & irritated well behind!

Ok that was fun, but reality check.
How do you sharpen your eyesight? You have OTHER eyes with ARS. Different angles of sight! Communicate, eye contact, team work!

How does one TRULY pay attention to details? Are you FIT?
Those playing or watching can SEE if YOU are putting forth EFFORT!
Mind you running amuck like a headless chicken to stay with play does NO one any good. In looking to be aware of what CAN happen, you need to anticipate play. You need to understand tactics. You need to be aware of the pace of play.

You will hear a LOT about the ANGLE of view!
It is because in match play, in real time, you have but a fraction of a second to analyze & make a decision of just what occurred on the pitch. You look but what are you seeing? A speck of dust you blink, a crisscrossing player blocks your line of sight! You are too far away, can not tell who is pushing or pulling? You are too close looking at their feet expecting a trip, up top an elbow to the head is missed.

There are videos to look at but UNDERSTAND once you go into slow motion frame by frame dissection you are compromised by the technology to truly gauge the event through a match referee's eyes!

POSITIONING, this goes to angle of view but you will notice that referees tend to weave a pattern in what we call a diagonal, based on protocols and established procedures where time has convinced referees the better viewing angles on certain plays. Not getting caught in the corners, bracketing play in-between the ARs, running small arcs, back peddling, sidestepping, knowing when to run in straight line & not follow the ball. All with the intent of staying close or catching up to get at the BEST angle to see unobstructed if there are illegal actions being carried out!.

Find a good referee organization who are serious about supporting you your peers will be the ones most likely to assist you with day to day post game evaluations, studying your OWN videos and keep an open mind to those assessing you on performance. It is easy to get locked into narrow fields of vision.

Listen to those with good perspective. It is easier if you play to understand the player perspective of tolerance & what illegal actions can be occasionally overlooked or thought of as trifling or doubtful. The fact soccer is a contact sport there will be opposing players coming together where neither will be at fault the 50/50 ball!

Then again those close encounters will diverge as you gain experience you will see patterns, you will not be deciding on guts and intuition as much as art & science but it will break into 51-49, 55-45, 60 -40, to easily discernable incidents. Things like being close to play with a strong presence, solid whistles that speak for you along with compassion & courageous character traits you sell your decisions. If you are far away run in to the point of the foul, hammering the whistle to sell the call. WE rarely use intent to call a foul but we sense attitudes and perceive aggression. It is why we look behind as we move away to ensure that irritated player does not retaliate.

In as much as the harsh tackles can be under carded or wrong colour for their forceful actions there are two fundamental decisions on infringements of the LOTG
(1) Deliberate handling that creates many issues on foul recognition as there are certain aspects we are trying to evolve into a more standardized approach. The risk factor of the slide tackle, the decision to widen the body & arms in what is referred to as a natural playing position.
(2) offside maybe the worst as it seems we are forever moving in bad goals or taking away good ones if we fail to id PIOPs initially through their actual POSITION at the crucial moment of touch of the ball by a team mate or fail to identify the INVOLVEMENT later! TALK to your ARS, pre & post game! be a team .

Pay attention, know the LOTG stone cold, understand that not everyone sees a match as you do, a NEUTRAL being
A spectator sees what they think they see,
A coach sees what he wants to see ,
A player sees what he feels he sees
A referee with integrity sees what he sees!


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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Ethyn
Thanks for the question.
Foul recognition is in my opinion the key refereeing skill. Get that right and all else will fall into place.
I had the benefit of playing the game so before I began refereeing I knew what I did that was legal and what I did that was called a foul plus watching what happened to others in the game.
Most if not all fouls are committed to stop an opponent doing something by illegal means. That is typically done by kicking, tripping, pushing, holding, jumping at or charging illegally.
So if we watch a game and a player in possession of the ball or trying to get to the ball is prevented from doing that by the above actions we penalise with a free kick. Most will be plainly obvious such as the player who has gets away from the opponent who then pulls his jersey, grabs his arm, sticks out a leg to trip up the player etc. Sometimes it is not so obvious as the speed of contact may mean it is more difficult to see. Watch any replay of a foul on TV and in most instances there is illegal contact on the player which is what we are looking for. .
Sometimes fouls can be doubtful such as the ones where the player plays the ball and to do so may have played the opponent at a fraction before that. In those instances we look at the how the contact was made such as whether there was limited or no possibility of not touching the player first before the ball such as a challenge from behind or in a manner that was careless or reckless.
If I think about that the key really is looking correctly for the illegal action. If players are running the foul action can be arm and body action, on a challenge the foul action will most likely be at the leg area. So we have to look to where the contact between the players is going to be. Experience tells me what and where to look and that comes from good observation. I know that poor observation is what causes a foul to missed. The referee did not in fact see the contact as he was looking at something else, in the wrong place or had a poor view.
That brings me on to angle of view. The best angle of view is side on to any challenge. That angle gives a clear uninterrupted view of both players. If the referee is to the front or the rear of a player the view of other player is restricted by one of the players, a blind spot. Now the trick is to get to that side on viewing position most if not all of the times. That is why the referee diagonal use is an important patrol path for referees. I can assure you that seeing something side on from 20 plus yards is a better viewing angle that 10 yards from behind.
This was espoused by the late Bob Evans and the concept he promoted can be seen here

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