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Question Number: 32810

Mechanics 10/16/2018

RE: Under 17

steve of oakland, CA usa asks...

How would you suggest handling a game solo mainly with regards to offsides? Last weekend I had to do a few games alone on nearly full size fields (110x70), and even though they were youth (u17 and u13) doing these games solo was still a lot of running.

When it came to offsides, basically unless I was 110% sure that the player was offside (could see entire line and that they were past it upon the kick) I would let a play go. I had a few goals in one game (one for each team) where players were complaining both times that the scoring player was offside and while I explained to them and the coaches before the game that as a solo referee offside would likely be a rare call and they understood before and after the game, I still felt like a poor referee for not seeing them whether they were true or not.

There is just no way that doing a solo match (irregardless I had three that day due to referee shortage) that I am going to attempt to sprint to run to the 2nd to last defender line on both sides of the field to get in correct offside position each possession, or feel that calling an offside just because I feel the player 'might' have been if I wasn't right on the line to see it would be the right thing to do

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Steve
In this part of the world 95% of the games are done as single officials due to shortage of officials.
So it is just part of the referees lot that he has to deal with offside.
For me over a lifetime of doing it this way I have developed a skill of doing offside on my own. Here are some thoughts
1. On the diagonal helps most of the time with perhaps most of the active players in view. The defender/s in the blind spot is the difficult one as he could be playing attackers onside
2. It is not possible to sprint level on every attack or close to it so do not even try.
3. It is at best a guesstimate based on the positions of what you have in view from the diagonal. Well marchalled defences tend to keep a pretty tight offside line.
4. I tend to make a quick glance upfield away from the ball to determine positions. That gives me a good indication of the positions of players before any ensuing play. If I see a player in an offside position that flags in my mind to be mindful of his involvement.
5. Tight calls are always difficult and we have to decide. If I see an attacker clearly beyond the offside defenders and a quick glance tells me that he likely to be offside then I am giving it. The attacking team will complain about what they perceive as a defender on the opposite side of the field in my blind spot playing him on. That very well may be the case but it is not possible to see that on ones own all of the time
6. When I have two ARs I continue to practise offside calls in my head. Most times I have it called correctly in my head before the ARs flag. I would say that in a game with ARs I might get one or two *wrong* usually calling them as offside yet being played on by a defender on the opposite side of the field.
I tell players that I am here on my own. It is the best I can do. I see players calling for offside that are plainly wrong. I had one at the weekend which was tight and an goal ensued. It looked onside to me. A couple of players complained but most knew it was as much onside as offside.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Steve,
when I intro in the pregame or inspect passes, equipment etc.. I use the I am fair not perfect speech, with no ARs I add that you MUST play to the whistle on offside. I only give what I know for certain so be wary of & look to where I am on the FOP as no one is looking across .Raising your arm to scream is NOT changing my mind right or wrong. If you do not hear the whistle PLAY!!!!! I remind them offside position is not an offence and that movement of the ball & players can change the picture drastically as to when position is determined to where involvement occurs.

AS to positional and running patterns . I really try to stay ahead of the play rather then follow it but anticipation is not always going to help in a 6o yard plus run. So if you get burned remember a straight line is the fastest way to get to another point on the field if you are anticipating that's where play will end up. I watch too many single referees running hard to stay but head down as it is all they can do to follow they really are not getting a good angle or look.. You have to make choices of angles versus getting into a position a bit further where you can be when the ball arrives.

I stay wide to a side and W in & out kind of like the pattern off a stable EKG/ECG machine . To some extent the weather, rain, wind & sun play a part. You do not want to face into it if you can keep it to your back. I also tend to move when the ball is in the air on restarts as I whistle as well as punt outs.

One definite mechanic is when you can, peek back over the shoulder to keep a sense of positional movement so if play reverses and that long ball heads downfield with PIOP or non piop in pursuit you are aware of who dawdles moves quick etc..
I had a match filmed and as a single referee I had 12 appeals for offside , 5 from the red 7 from the yellow I awarded 3 to the red and 4 to the yellow. On 1 of the no calls red scored a goal because yellow assumed the player getting to the ball way in behind them was in easily. What I saw was on the long high ball clearance was a defender stumbling along the touchline about 10 yards from the midline as the attacker pursuing the ball was just leaving the center circle to me it was close enough I could not be sure so no whistle the ball came down 20 yards further so he looks 30 yards in behind the defender who are all standing on the midline in disbelief . Much dissent, Keeper mad yellow carded for dissent , luckily I did not toss him. Anyway they came back to tie the score and we were into PKS to decide the match . . My buddy with the video shows the yellow captain the incident on the small screen . As luck would have it he was perfectly placed to see that at the kick clearance out, our goal scorer was just inside the center circle whereas at the near touchline a retreating defender who had stumbled was about 11 yards from the midline and rapidly made it to the midline with the rest of his gang. The attacker was on the dead run moving very fast but as the video showed CLEARLY onside at the time of the touch by about 2 feet his lead leg was about even with the bent down head of the defender who was stumbling. All other defenders were at or near the midline.
Although this time through the camera made me look super efficient I have other single matches where that was not the case! ,lol The thing is though the teams SHOULD understand that as a single referee we do the best we can and live with the mistakes for or against them. I will use their own guidance on balls clearly in touch if they wish to assist but AGAIN I caution them UNLESS I whistle ALWAYS PLAY! PLAY! PLAY !

I find for the MOST part if you show a real effort to be with play ,the players can see you and aware of how hard you are trying to get to where you need to be they are willing to forgive most, if not all of your decisions. I wish you well on the pitch my friend!

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

It's a tricky one. You can't get it 100% correct with AR's, let alone without. I've refereed in areas with and without CAR's - I'll take refereeing by myself over CAR's anyday, and I haven't even had a particularly bad CAR! Most of my time spent refereeing was in an are without CARs so I've done a lot of games by myself.

First off, reconsider your positioning. Positioning is about considering the various events that might happen, how likely Event A is compared to Event B, what's the relative significance of Even A compared to event B (A might be more likely, but B might be a game-changer), and what are you sacrificing for your position. One position might give you a great view of A and no view of B, the other gives you a moderate view of both.
With a NAR, you can take offside position judgement out of that equation almost entirely. Offside may be game changing, it's quite likely to occur, but everywhere you have a near-perfect view (because of your AR), so position yourself for other things instead.

Without an AR, you need to reconsider your positioning. Diagonals may become pointless.

Take a ceremonial FK, for instance. Normally you're sort of in front and to the side, looking into the PA at an angle with a view of the wall. But that gives me zero view of a close offside - which is fairly likely to occur. So I'll basically adopt the AR's position - on the field, but directly in line with the 2nd last defender. It compromises my position to see everything else, but I've still got some view (and don't forget, the 'traditional' position can still leave me unsighted for events that may occur behind the wall - no position gives you a view of everything that may occur). That position also allows me to quickly move to the goal line if there's a shot as well.

I've had games with one NAR, and I've found myself positioning almost where other AR would normally be - spending most of the game up near the other team's sweeper. This has just been the occasional weird game where there were few fouls, even challenges in the middle of the park, lots of long balls....basically, really weird positioning, but in that occasional game I don't believe I missed anything. Just an example of how you reconsider your positioning.

As for spotting offsides - there's a few things you can do to help. First off, you need to preempt play more. Constantly glance up to where the attackers are. Who's looking to start a run? Who might be free? Where is the ball carrier starting to look? Who's calling for the ball? But you want to do this without looking away from the ball-carrier - so sometimes you may need to get wider or deeper to have the offside line in your peripheral vision. You may need to start running upfield a bit earlier as well

Without an AR, I'll sometimes find myself standing off the field for throw-ins as well - after all, you also need to adjust your positioning for ball in/out of play. I change my corner position to standing off the goal line, around the GA, as opposed to infield around the corner of the PA.

Back to offsides, use the field markings. Not just the PA, but you might have a slightly discoloured line of grass across the field where there's drainage or something. I also find that if I quickly run my eye back and forth along the grass, almost like I'm tracking an imaginary line, then I can almost draw a virtual line in my mind. This has helped me a lot. Try it on a field. Stand in the middle of the field, pick a spot near the touch line, say, 5-10 yards out from the PA, quickly run your eye along the ground to the other line. You should have an idea of what bits of grass were on that, compare them to the PA, and you'll see it was pretty accurate. I found myself starting to do that in play - I may not be sure if somebody is in an offside position, but I 'draw' my imaginary line and I'd feel like my view is just as good as if I had an AR.
Finally, reconsider your position during the game. If you feel like you might be unsure of a few close ones, then change your positioning to pick them up. Sometimes it's just hard to spot - especially if the attacker is usually a long way across the field from the nearest defender, these are very tricky. I've had games where the red team's balls going through, I'd even be able to spot the close offside but for the red team, I'd struggle to have a clue just because of the relative positioning of the players. It's tough, and offside will cause problems.

And sometimes you'll incorrectly call an attacker offside as well. It's really the fault of the players running a close offside line without an AR!

Having said that, being solo doesn't mean you shouldn't be getting most of them right. And you have to figure out a way to be able to spot the tough ones. And don't forget - even with AR's players can make a really big deal when they think it's offside and it isn't. So don't worry too much about the player response.

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