The Renegade Referee says Ask Yourself What The Players Want

This close season I’ve been struck by the number of referees who do not appear to be willing to referee differently and, in my opinion, will only get promoted because it is their turn.

Now this could be because that is the personality of the referee or the personality of their referee coach or they are just scared to put themselves out there for fear of failure.

The personality of the referee is important when it comes to how high they will climb in refereeing circles.  If they are scared of failing then they will not risk trying anything new on the field, and this could leave them stuck where they are.

Remember the old saying: if you always do what you’ve always done, then you will always get what you’ve always got!

Read this again please because it is important in refereeing and every part of your life.

Of course, when as a referee you do try something new and it comes off for you then that will become the norm for you as an official.

So if you want to get on – try something new and see what the reaction is.  New means something acceptable to the game (I don’t mean refereeing naked or using profane language or etc, etc, etc!)

What could you do that’s within the spirit of the game? Like commentating out loud or playing on even if a player has been pushed slightly or allowing free kicks to the defence to be taken from anywhere in the defending third – but remember every defending kick must come out of the penalty area!

I read this newsletter out to our resident referees and the level 5 wanted me to change the defending free kick placement to within 5 metres of the offence!

But if you listen to footballers – they seem to want to get the game playing as soon as possible (unless they’re winning with two minutes to go).  In this example, as the referee all you need to ensure is the side taking the free kick are not taking it from the wrong place to “take out” the opposition.

Get the game going as soon as possible in the defensive third is a good thing to try, but remember that if you get the ball correctly placed then you are being correct in Law, therefore an observer cannot mark you down (but the clubs can!)

Then we move onto the referee coach – their ideas about your role will influence how you referee.  If your coach has officiated or played at a higher level they will coach you in the ways that they wanted referees to be at that level; if your coach was always on the parks as a player and/or a referee they will want you to referee differently.

Neither is right or wrong – but the simple thing is to understand where they are coming from and ask yourself what do you want to achieve?

The most important thing is to adapt your officiating to the level of football you are officiating at – generally the more skilful the player or team – the more they want you to keep the game flowing.

I maintain that observers will simply watch your level of empathy and control of the players and ensure that you are giving the game what it expects.  So before your next game ask yourself: what do the players expect from us as the officials?

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