refereeing junior soccer

Some advice to all the 'lucky' coaches and parents up and down the country who are persuaded to get their whistle out and attempt to control a youth soccer match.

Start by reading Chris White's account of his own first experiences as a soccer referee.

how to be a good referee

Above all else, be consistent. Nothing drives coaches, players, and fans into a rage faster than having a ref that doesn't make calls both ways. Whether you call a strict game or a more relaxed game, it has to be the same for both teams.

Don't be so quick with the whistle that the players never get into the flow of the game. Some games require a strong hand from the referee to keep players from getting out of control, but some games are between two clean, physical teams. Let them play. If you feel that emotions are starting to rise, by all means, take control. Don't let things progress to the point you have to rely on yellow cards to regain control.

When refereeing games with young players, it's often helpful to take a few seconds and explain the call to the players. Those new to the game may not completely understand all of the rules, so a brief explanation helps them in their development.

There are situations that occur during a hard fought match that the rule book states is a violation, but neither team gains the slightest advantage from the situation. What if, for instance, a ball takes a bounce and inadvertently grazes a players arm. If the violating team doesn't gain an advantage from the play, blowing a whistle would only serve to stop the flow of the game, and give the ball to the team that already had possession, possibly allowing the other team the opportunity to reset their defense. If the violation was accidental,there is no advantage gained, and blowing the whistle would only serve to affect the flow of the game, then let the players play.

Above all else remember, the referee is not there to be central figure in the match. It is your job to keep control of the game, and interpret the rules. If you can do that without calling undue attention to yourself, so much the better.