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Question Number: 32818

Other 10/20/2018

RE: Under 15

steve of oakland, CA usa asks...

What should you do if you don't trust your assistant referees competency?

I did a game today that was a youth league game, only U-14, but it was still a competitive match and not only competitive but the highest level competitive league at this age group. I got to the game and my two very young (maybe 13-14) ARs were first year referees, one with 5 games comp experience and one it was his first game. They were not comfortable calling fouls in their quadrant and did multiple mechanics issues, like running while holding an offside flag, etc. I obviously did not express any frustration to them nor say anything to the coaches about the situaton

Obviously I do not blame them at all because they were assigned to this match, but it brings about the larger question of what to do as a center referee if you question your ARs competency? You can't exactly overrule them on decisions you know they clearly get wrong because then you completely nullify their use in a match and coaches/players will immediately disregard everything they do.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Steve
Assistant as the name implies is only there to assist the referee. Ultimately it is the referees game to call.
Now like any walk of life apprentices are assigned to work. It is not possible for experienced persons to be assigned to every job. In my work a young graduate has joined the team. The team would have preferred an experienced person who can hit the ground running. We cannot expect an apprentice to deliver much in the early months. Hopefully as skills improve so to will his contribution to the team.
Same in refereeing. How are young people going to learn if not by *sitting with Nellie*. Part of the experienced referees role is to take time to advise / train these young officials.
When I do games I always make a point of having a good pre match and in some instances going back to basic which includes flag use. If I pick up something in the game that helps them then the half time talk includes that.
For example I recall a raw AR probably his first game and he was stood in front of the thrower for most defensive throw ins. I put him right at half time and he was so appreciative after the game. He knew what he was doing was wrong as it did not feel right but he got fixated on the 2nd last opponent for offside. It was not his fault just lack of training and experience.
As to calling fouls in the ARs vicinity I would not be concerned about that. Young ARs see the referee as king and do not want to impose themselves on the game.
On overrules that is part of the referees duty. If an AR gets a decision clearly wrong the flag should be waved down and play continues. BTW it is not unusual and it happens at every level. I was waved down once and I still recall it. The CR did not see the incident as a foul. I would still flag it if I got it over again. It did rankle with me and it did cause a number of players to berate me which was not dealt with. But that was the referees prerogative which he excercised.
Here is a video I refer to which shows a wave down of an incorrect flag.
The ball was played by Green to the Blue PIOP which the referee saw so the AR was incorrect to flag. It did cause dissent yet it was the correct call by the referee. To not wave it down would have been a serious error by the referee.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Steve,
Part of the referee's role is to get to know the assistants before the match. You should have a rough idea of their confidence and experience before the game has started.
For an inexperienced or young referee, I actually ask them how confident they are calling fouls in their half. Many AR's take a season or two to really be able to start doing this - and that's fine. If I know they're not overly confident with that, then I tell them not to worry about the fouls - and then I know to adjust my position so I'm a bit closer to that corner. I'll also tell them they can start flagging the blatantly obvious ones in their area as that can build confidence.

As for the mechanics, talk to them at halftime about that. If I know they're particularly experienced, then I'll discuss some of the mechanics in my prematch discussion with them.

And yes, you absolutely can overrule them on decision you're absolutely certain they got wrong - and you should. But there are risks, because unless you happen to have the perfect view of, say, an offside, odds are they're the ones that have it right even if you're certain they don't. I know every time a referee has overruled me they've been completely wrong (I mean calling an onside player offside, or waving down a flag when the PIOP received the ball - not waving down the flag because the defence has it, or the player ended up being passive).

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Steve,
Treating ARS in a positive manner that acknowledges them for who they are and/or what they are doing. The fact most are PAID means one should consider it of value setting career goals but truthfully it is interdependent on how much time available to educate, train & participate' Respect is earned and is never just given. Meaning when you interact with an individual you treat them with dignity and in a respectful manner as this shows your character as a person. Behaving in a respectful manner reflects on you, your character, integrity and values of who you are as a person.

No one owes you respect until you have earned it, so there is no such thing as I will give it after they give it to me first. That attitude is a disrespectful action to anyone you interact with as it insinuates that you do not trust them to act accordingly, and implies that they 'owe' you respect before you will give it. That will cause people to LOSE respect for you or never gain it in the first place. Questioning their integrity(respect) before you have even met them and 'expecting' respect to be given without giving it yourself is insulting and condescending to that person and is judging them in a negative light when you know absolutely nothing about them.

To get respect, you must give it. Respectful behavior should just be part of how you act as a person 100% of the time. When you first meet someone, everyone should be given the benefit of the doubt that they are a respectable individual but like any job there are those that are newbies just learning , those that try & get good at it or those that just put in time & get by & those that go not for me and off they go. Like any job with responsibility, it requires attention. training, mentoring, effort we are all on that learning curve of experience but we offer to share our knowledge to assist those not at that level yet. No one needs to make every mistake to learn, we can learn from another's mistakes & their successes that is why we share the details of our experiences.

A solid pregame is essential, so not arriving until kick off looms with no chance to talk is not a good start. Hard to get the respect flowing under crappy circumstances. Warmth & honesty. I use I am not perfect but I expect effort. So if I can see you trying to stay with the 2nd last opponent. If I can see you are focused on the match I will do my utmost to maintain eye contact and communicate. Ask them their qualifications, how they feel, their thoughts about offside run through a few scenarios. Substitution procedures , a bit of foul recognition. How to help you if you are playing advantage, need to record a player, stay with play , eye contact. what to do for things out of your sight or troubles on the touchline causing them issues? Not to be upset if you wave them off you will explain why at some point just trust in you to take the responsibility for the decisions . Try not to belittle, I rather do this myself even if you think it, strikes hard at the heart of any AR if you come across as a condescending butt wad or a Hitler dictator who ignores any help they offer. We have a paper on site by Gil Weber that deals with pregame which maybe overwhelming for newer AR?CRs but you can use the basic premise as starting point. Cheers

Gil Weber's Pregame Discussion Points For Referees
Working Games At Youth Recreational Level (All Ages)
Or Competitive U-14 And Below
Copyright© 2017
June 2017
These abbreviated pregame discussion points are intended for referees
working youth recreational games of all ages, and competitive games U-14 and
below. They are an age and level-specific edit of the full version of my pregame
instructions first published in 1999 and regularly updated since then. That full
version can be viewed and downloaded from either of these URLs:
At the professional level two-hour pregame discussions are not out of the
ordinary as the crew goes over the tactics typically employed by each team and
the propensities of individual players. Obviously the youth games most of us
work (or mentor) are nowhere near that level. And most referees doing youth
games typically don’t have the luxury of more than a few minutes before games
for a conversation with their assistant referees, particularly at tournaments where one might be lucky to have ten minutes between games.
Thus choosing what to say and how to say it in a limited amount of time is
critical. This is particularly important when you're working with very young or
inexperienced ARs who still may be trying to get comfortable switching the flag
from hand to hand. So asking combined with telling can be very effective. And
that may mean first finding out who the ARs are, how long they've been
officiating, and what they can do so you'll then know what to ask of them.
Don't expect to get in all of what you read here, especially in the time
crunch between games. Too much too quickly may be information overload for
young and/or inexperienced ARs. Instead, consider the points I've listed here as
those I would hope to cover if I had the time when working with assistant
referees at this level of competition. And then create your own pre-game
discussion addressing those points that meet the needs of the game level
you’re working that day and the experience levels of your assistant
referees. (Note: using a highlighter to mark the most important points here
will help you focus on what must be discussed. You may find it helpful to
write those key points on small cards for review with the ARs.) Also take
into consideration special protocols of the league or association, for example
AYSO where the teams may be on opposite sides of the field and both ARs then
will have bench, substitution, and spectator-management responsibilities.
1) Getting Off To A Good Start
It's preferable that the three officials check-in the teams together. But if
duties must be split then the AR(s) not with the referee should first collect a
coach or manager's pass for each of the team personnel who will be on the
bench. Then as each player's pass is collected, check for shinguards and
jewelry, and be certain that the jersey numbers on the team roster sheet are the
same as the numbers on the shirts. Note any changes on the team roster.
2) Having A Clear View Along The Touchline
It's essential that AR1 has a clear view all the way down the touchline to
the far corner flag. If a coach constantly stands at the line blocking the view the
AR should politely ask the coach to step back at least three feet. If the coach
repeatedly blocks the AR's view that AR should call over the referee to handle
the coach.
The AR on the spectator needs a similar clear view and freedom to run. If
spectators crowd the line making it hard for the AR to run or see past midfield to the far corner flag the spectators should be politely asked to move back at least five feet. If that request doesn't work the AR should call over the referee who can and should deal with it.
3) Watch Each Other
Each time play is stopped everyone on the crew must make eye contact
with each other. Then, if necessary, an AR can tell the referee any concern with a hand signal and voice. For example, pointing to a player and saying the player's number, and then pointing to one's eyes will tell the referee to watch her. The AR must be prepared to give the referee jersey numbers and specifics when asked by the referee.
And at each stoppage it's also important that both ARs look across the
field to the other AR. Make eye contact. If a flag is up behind the referee's back,
for example for a substitution, mirror it by making the same signal.

4) Offside
Offside is the AR's most important responsibility. The referee depends on
ARs to be properly positioned to judge offside position and then to determine if
there is offside. Remind them that before raising the flag for offside to be sure
that the player in an offside position has become involved in play.
ARs should always apply the 'Wait and See' principle learned in an entry
level class to decide if a player really is offside. A second or two late and correct
is better than a fast but, ultimately, wrong flag.
If the referee misses a flag raised for offside don't drop the flag simply
because the referee did not see it. Stay there with the flag raised. But
raising the flag is not enough. If the referee misses the flag the AR must get
the referee's attention quickly. Shout loudly, 'Flag up!' or shout the referee's
name and, 'Flag, offside!'
5) Ball Out Of Play
If the ball goes over the touchline or the goal line and then comes back
into the field, the AR should raise the flag and stand there until the referee blows the whistle or until the attack breaks down and there is no longer a threat on goal. If there is no eye contact then shout for the referee's attention.
6) Goal Or No Goal
If the ball goes in the goal and, in the AR's opinion, it's a good goal make
eye contact first and then, if the referee points to the center circle, run slowly up
the touchline while watching the players. On the other hand, if in the AR's opinion it's not a good goal then the AR should stand still, at attention, and raise the flag only if the goal-scorer was offside. The referee should look over at the AR and realize something was not right.
If the referee comes over to the AR he/she will need specifics.
Finally, if the ball goes into the goal and comes back out, and if the referee
did not realize it and play continues, the AR must raise the flag to signal ball
out of play, and stand there. The AR must get the referee's attention, shouting
if necessary, so the flag should not be dropped. Once the referee sees the AR
then the AR can drop the flag and sprint up the touchline. This is a game changing incident and the crew must get it right.
7) Fouls In Or Near The Penalty Area (Note! Be careful how much responsibility you put on young and/or inexperienced ARs. This goes to the opening statement about assessing the ARs' experience. )
The referee and ARs are supposed to be a team everywhere on the
field including the penalty area. If the AR sees what he/she thinks is a foul in
or near the penalty area in favor of the attacking team, make eye contact first. If
the AR is absolutely certain that the referee did not have a good view of the
incident and would have called whatever the AR thinks the referee has not seen
then the AR should signal by wiggling a raised flag in the right hand.
If the referee whistles and the foul was outside the penalty area then the
AR should stand at attention and use his/her voice if necessary to confirm
'outside.' On the other hand, if inside the penalty area then after the whistle the AR should hold the flag horizontally below the waist (per USSF instructions) confirming to the referee the location and severity of the foul. The AR then takes up a position just off the field at the intersection of the penalty area and goal line and acts as a goal judge. The referee will watch the goalkeeper and the other players.
8) Deal With What's Important. Don't Look For Problems.
The crew should deal with what's important, not with little things that really
don't impact on the game. Example: on free kicks far from goal the ARs should
not worry about the exact blade of grass. Same for offside restarts or throw-ins --
if the player is close the ARs should let play resume.
Finally, the referee should ask the ARs if there are any questions on things
discussed or if there were issues not covered that the ARs would like to discuss.
Then go out and have fun!
(Special thanks to Jim Geissman and Michelle Maloney for the inspiration to
create this document and invaluable editing and remarks that helped refine the
content and tone to the experience levels of the referees and ARs working
games at these levels.)
Gil Weber is a National Referee Emeritus, State Assessor, Referee Instructor, and Assignor. He was also a contributor to the USSF's Advice to Referees (first 11 editions), Laws of the Game Made Easy, the Guide for Fourth Officials, the Women's World Cup '99 Fouls and Misconduct video, You Make the Call, and other Federation referee educational programs.

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