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  • You Can’t Pay Me Enough For This!
  • When do you relax or how do you make your referee love you as an AR?
  • No matter where you go, there you are. Or, everyone else knows what you are, don’t you think you should?
  • Am I a Role Model?
  • Am I a Better Referee?
  • Arkansas Referees at the Wed & Wild Youth Regionals
  • Corner Kick
  • Protecting the Beautiful Game
  • Thoughts from the Chairman
  • What Does it Take to Become a State Referee?
  • Hey, Kick Your Dog
  • Flag Ripping
  • How Did You Spend Your Christmas Vacation?
  • Goal Kicks
  • What’s in a Uniform?
  • Thrown In
  • Pregame! Pregame! Pregame!
  • Are there special rules of conduct for goalkeepers?
  • Direct Versus Indirect Free Kicks
  • Why Protect the Badge?
  • Roadblocks to Confidence
  • Top News


Recently, the USSF conducted a Regional “Pro” Clinic in Dallas, Texas. The clinic is part of the U. S. Soccer Federation’s National Program for Referee Development. It is open to National Referees, National Candidates, Grade 5 referees who may be future National Candidates, and State Assessors. The purpose of this clinic is to ensure that all of our professional referees have a consistent approach to their calls in matches at the professional level.

 Arkansas was well represented thanks to the work of Bill Nelson, the State Director of Assessment. Bill organized the trip to Dallas for a group of State Assessors and two of our young referees who have been identified as potential National Referee candidates.

Director of Advanced and International Referee Development Esse Baharmast, and Director of National Assessments, David McKee were the instructors for the clinic. They, along with Manager of Referee Development & Education, Alfred Kleinaitis conducted a fitness test Saturday morning for the National Referees, and National Referee Candidates who attended the clinic.  The remainder of the day was spent in the clinic reviewing video and discussing situations from games that addressed the primary points of emphasis that will be made to the FIFA Referees who will be working the World Cup this year.

This quickly begs the question: Why is this important to us in Arkansas? Are we expected to referee exactly the same?  Obviously the level of games we do are different than those of the World Cup or the Professional level.  However, we must make sure that as much as possible our decisions are consistent.  What we learned as assessors and referees will be put into information which will be used in assessments, for in-service clinics, and at the Intermediate and State Camp 

Here are a few of the high points from the clinic that apply to every game we officiate here in Arkansas!


Referee every game as if it were a professional match

  • Judge the skill level of the players and make appropriate calls
  • Protect all the players
  • Especially protect the impact players
  • Know the differences between careless, reckless, or excessive force.
  • Control dissent
  • Completely eliminate violence from the game

Be forever professional

  • In your dealings with players
  • In your dealings with coaches
  • In your dealings with other referees

Monitor your attitude at all times

  • Be proud to accept any type of assignment
  • Give your best effort no matter the caliber or level of the game

Make sure your fitness is at the highest level

  • Ask yourself, can you really keep up with the players on the field? 
  • If you cannot, then do something about it!

Always remember good referees prepare themselves very well to do the job; they accept the opportunities provided, and then they ultimately have the good luck to have the best game of their lives!  In addition, every game should be the best game that has ever been done!

Cole Farris

Ah, it’s a beautiful spring day.  The birds are chirping.  The flowers are blooming.  You’ve recently received your referee certification and the game is going smoothly.  The young ones are going about their business of encircling the ball wherever it goes.  Everyone’s yelling at you.  The wind is in your face….stop (rewind).  “Why is everyone yelling at me?”

 You just called a foul on their little one, and they’re not happy.  The problem is, when you call a foul on the other team, now all the “other” parents are upset.  You’re thinking “What is wrong with you people, I’m just doing my job!”  It seems like every other call you make, someone on the touchline comments on your inability to referee.  A strange feeling in your gut starts to rise.  Now you’re actually mad at the parents for questioning you. 


You’re experiencing what every referee is subjected to, parent bias (coaches and players too).  Actually, it’s all part of being human.  Everyone is biased to some extent, and when it comes to sports, it surfaces quickly.  “But I’m a certified referee, I know the rules!”  That’s the problem, you “do” know the rules….they don’t.  Put yourself in their shoes.  They see a foul called against their team that they don’t understand, and they’re naturally upset.  Okay, even if they understand the call, some are mad anyway (they’re parents, and not quite as fair-minded as you).

“I didn’t sign up for this!”

It’s okay.  Their anger really isn’t directed at you.  They are emotionally caught up in the moment.  Your job as a referee is to stay calm and focused on the game.  You’re the official.  If you don’t stay relaxed, how can you expect anyone else to?  Remember, once you let your anger get the best of you, it starts to cloud your judgment, and “now” it’s affecting the game.

 “Where’s my light saber?”

Now, how to deal with these aliens who decided that “your” soccer game was a perfect location for their invasion of planet Earth.  Below are a few tips from the Galactic Council (also known as older referees who are in the same boat as you):

–  Mentally prepare yourself before the game.

No matter how good a job you’re doing as a referee, there will always be some complaints.  It’s going to happen.  It’s the natural world.  It’s one of the laws of physics…

                The law of gravity

                The law of thermodynamics

                Parents and coaches will complain

–   You are not alone in the universe (this happens to all referees)

The same folks that are griping at you, are also griping at every other referee that does their child’s game.  And no matter how long you’ve been doing this, there will always be complaints.  Go watch a game sometime where the official is an older, more experienced ref.  Sit on the touchline with the spectators and listen to their comments.  Believe me, you’ll feel better about yourself in no time.

–   Talk to other referees.     

Let your frustrations out on someone who can relate.  See how they handle it.  Other referees are your best source for helpful tips (they’ve been there, done that).

–   Game’s over….turn it off….go home.

Realize that everyone (except you) wants their team to win.  Parents get caught up in the moment, coaches are using gamesmanship to make calls go their way, and players are pulling every trick in the book to gain an advantage on the field.  But it’s a game, not a personal attack on you.  Be like a boxer after a prize fight.  When it’s over, it’s over (there’s no hard feelings).  You may find that the same guy who was screaming earlier in the game comes up and shakes your hand afterwards (“Good game ref, thanks for putting up with us.”). 

–   Become a better referee.

No, this doesn’t mean you’re a bad referee.  It means you’re doing a good job, but have the potential to be even better.  A wise man once said “knowledge is power” (better words were never spoken).  Attend additional referee clinics.  Listen to what they have to say.  These are some of the top people in their field and can “relate” to your situation.  And one thing my referee instructor pushed on us when I was trained “become a student of the Laws of the Game.”  The more you know, the easier officiating will become.  It’s hard for a coach to complain when he realizes you know more about the Laws than he does.  Remember, your certification isn’t the end of your training, it’s the beginning.

Ah, it’s springtime again!

It’s another beautiful day.  The birds are chirping.  The parents are yelling…..


By Brian W. Caldwell

There are few things that can distract a referee more than an assistant referee that is not performing well.  I don’t mean the situations where a referee is just having a bad day in spite of his or her desire to do well.  I mean those times when it is clear that the assistant is totally unprepared to travel the touchline.  We have all been there.  Sometime in our lifetime, we were clueless on the touchline.  We had more to learn than we thought we knew.  Performing as an assistant referee can be confusing and difficult and requires some thought to perform well.

So here are some things to think about that may get your referee to smile next time you run the line.

1.       Show up on time – Be ready to work when you get to the field.  If you arrive first, don’t just sit on the touchline waiting for the referee to show up.  If they aren’t there, begin the pre game process.  If the referee is already there and is in a different uniform from you, change.  Otherwise go to the referee and report in.

2.       Pay attention to the Pre-game – Look at the referee.  Be engaged.  If you have a question, ask the question.  If you are confused about something, say so.  If the referee leaves something out you want direction on, bring it up.  Make the pre-game a dialogue.  Show the referee you care about the game.

3.       Stay square to the field – Remember your first duty is to maintain the offside position.  It is a good idea to maintain a full view of the field, the best way to do that is to be square to the field.  While you are at it, make sure you are truly even with the second to last defender.  Find some benchmarks (penalty area line, bottom of the center circle, etc) and check them out every now and then to make sure you are even.  Move back from the field so you can see the touchline in your peripheral vision.

4.       Be attentive to your duties – Pay attention to your field and not the next field or the people behind you.  Make sure you know where the offside position is and maintain that position.  Keep score with the referee and have a running watch so you can back up the referee.  Keep the flag down and where the referee can see it unless you are signaling.

5.       Run to the goal line – Follow the play all the way to the goal line.  Even if you are slower than the ball or the players, run as fast as you can to catch up.  It really gives the referee a lot of comfort to know that you will be at the goal line to help judge goal kicks, corner kicks, and goals.

6.       Position yourself correctly on the throw in and the corner kick – No matter who does the throw in or where it takes place, be closer to the goal line than the thrower.  Be on the goal line at corner kicks (back out of the way of the kicker if necessary).

7.       Assist on substitutions – Either move up to check players in before they enter the field or add your presence so that the referee can focus on what is happening near him/her.  Count the players coming on to the field and off of the field.  This is especially true in upper level games or where the referee is far from midfield.  If there are subs at the line when you are at midfield, look them over and make sure they are properly uniformed before allowing them to enter the field.

8.       Control encroachment in your area – Don’t allow players to encroach on corner kicks.  Take charge of setting the wall off your touch line when appropriate.  Talk this over in the pre-game and find out how the referee wants you to handle different wall setting situations.

9.       Scan the field – Make a habit of scanning the field periodically and finding out what is happening outside of your area.  But don’t become a spectator.  Remember your job first job is offside.  Watching play on the far end of the field is being a spectator and is not scanning to check things out.

10.    Check in with the referee – Whenever possible, make eye contact with your referee.  Give him/her a good smile.  Let them know how things are going.  Let the referee know when they make a good call.  Give them a thumbs up every now and then. Even when they are the old pro, and you are the new kid on the block, they will appreciate the added support.

11.    Use your mouth effectively – Talk to the players in your area when you need to.  If a word can stop unfair play or misconduct, don’t just leave it to the referee to handle everything.  Make this part of the pre-game discussion.

12.    Mirror cross field AR signals – Mirror flags on the far side when those flags are behind the referee.  Show the referee that you are on the ball by supporting their back as well as their front.

13.    Avoid flag flapping or ripping – Don’t be too quick on your flag.  Hesitate so you can to see how play develops.  Look at the referee and make sure they are screened before putting your flag up.  The idea is to give the referee information he/she would not have otherwise.  Even if you think it is a foul, if the referee sees the play clearly and chooses not to call it that is the right of the referee.

14.    Match the referee’s call – When appropriate, match the referee’s call.  Be a team.  If you don’t agree with the direction keep your flag down.  Work out a signal in the pre-game for how to deal with differences of opinion where you clearly had a better view than the referee.

15.    Remember why you are there – The assistant referee is there for one reason.  To support the referee.  To assist and not to insist.  Don’t be a distraction.  If the referee gives you specific instructions in the pre-game, obey them.

16.    Hustle – The referee can relax a bit when you hustle.  Not only that, but that referee that sees you hustle will recommend you to other referee’s.  You will get your name spread around in a good way.  If you don’t hustle…. Well, you get the reputation you deserve.

Assistant referees are important.  Effective assistant referees are essential.  Just being there is nice, being there and making your referee smile is priceless.  A weak assistant referee can kill a strong referee.  A strong assistant referee can save a weak referee.  Do your part as an assistant referee to make the referee team a winning team.

By Brian W. Caldwell

Every time you step onto the field you bring all you are with you.  This may seem to be a silly thing to say.  But I believe that without that knowledge you, as a referee, cannot grow beyond your initial level of competence.

Before I go any farther, let me say that I believe that every referee should have three goals each and every time they step onto a soccer field.  The first, and primary, goal should be to perform effectively in that game.  The second goal should be to create an environment where players will be able to maximize their potential to perform.  The third goal, although not primary, is the most important.  The third goal is that the referee should want to learn from this game so that the next time they step onto a field, they are a better referee.

Now you may be asking yourself a few questions.  Questions like, “Isn’t the first goal kind of obvious?”, “What’s the difference between the first and second goals?”, and “Why is the third goal the most important?”.  Good questions, each and every one of them.

Let’s start with “Isn’t the first goal obvious?”  Of course it is and it should be.  Now, think about it again.  As any experienced referee can tell you, it is not obvious to an alarming number of referees.  In fact, some referees seem to have no goal whatsoever other than to survive.  If you do not have this as a goal, you aren’t a referee.  You are a spectator and you don’t belong on the field.  So, the next time you take an assignment, earn your pay.  Make a conscious effort to perform effectively.

Next, “What’s the difference between the first and second goals?”  They are not the same.  Accomplishing the first goal, in my mind, entails performing in accordance with the mechanics of being a referee.  It involves being on time with your whistle, making the right calls, and correctly applying advantage.  This, to me, is the first place the assessor is trying to get you to.  It involves the technical aspects of refereeing; positioning, anticipating play, respecting passing lanes, and using the diagonal system of control properly.  The second goal is the next step.  It passes beyond the mechanics of performance and knowledge of the game to the spirit and essence of the game.  It involves what assessors and experienced referees refer to as man management and more.  Reaching this goal means achieving the embodiment of decision 8 of Law V.  This is the where old time referees tell you that if you ever get there, hang up your cleats.  It is the goal you will never get to but must always strive for.

Finally, “Why is the third goal the most important?”  There are a bunch of reasons why.  One reason is that it means a real commitment to refereeing.  Another reason is that it means real work toward realizing your potential.  Or, to put those two together and state it more succinctly, the reason the third goal is the most important is because you cannot achieve the first two goals without accepting the challenge of the third goal.  To do that means you have to be willing to change and to grow.  That’s hard.  It means facing yourself, recognizing your shortcomings, becoming aware of who you are and making a deliberate and sincere effort to change into who you want to become.

There is one person you never meet, you.  That means it is really hard to find out who you are because you have so many misperceptions of who you are.  Trust me, everyone on the field knows who you are.  Every time you do something or say something, you tell them who you are.  You can continue to be like the Emperor with no clothes if you like.  Or, you can work on making yourself a new suit that will enhance your ability to perform on the field.

By Steve Harvey, Chair, State Referee Committee

I get to see and work with an awful lot of referees here in Arkansas and in other states. Because of these connections, I began to think about how I am perceived as both a referee and more importantly, a human being. I have worked with some very, very good referees and some that weren’t as good. The one thing that stands out on the good referees was their eagerness to help me and others become better referees. They shared their passion for the game and their love of helping others. I know all of you have worked with some referees that were probably pretty good, but because they were “jerks” you didn’t take anything from the game that would help.

I know that no one asks to be a role model, but when you progress through the ranks of referees, through either grade or just in tenure, like it or not, you are one. You can accept this role by working with your assignors and doing the games and positions scheduled for you. We can’t all work centers at every match. You can actually help a young referee working his line more than having him watch you in the center. You can mentor a referee by talking of past experiences and how you corrected them. You can offer tips or send that referee toward someone else that might know a little bit more than you. And speaking of talking, what’s wrong with having that referee talk to you about problems. This brings up a new form of help; it’s called “listening.”

Another way to help is through your attitude. We all have bad days, but don’t take it out on someone that had nothing to do with your problem. A smile and kind word go a long way.

Performance on the field can speak volumes. You can provide a positive environment by working only those games where you are comfortable. If your forte is the U-10 and U-12, then great, be the best U-10 and U-12 referee you can be and people will notice. Don’t accept games over your head for the money, those people are easy to spot. When you can no longer keep up with the older kids, help us with the younger age groups; we need referees there also.

As I said, like it or not, you are a role model. It is up to you to be a good, supportive and helpful one or you can do everything with only one person in mind and that person is yourself. The choice is yours, please choose wisely…

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By Mark Wagner, SRA

Are you a better referee than you were at this same time last year? Some of you may have asked yourself this question. What does it take to be a better referee? How do I get to do a final in a tournament? How do I prepare myself to advance in grade or possibly be selected to represent the state at Regionals or ODP?

First of all I think we need to all look at ourselves. Be honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses. Whatever your motives for being involved in the game of Soccer; there is no doubt that your actions on and off the field reflect what you feel for our sport. The fairness of the match, and the safety and enjoyment of the players are our main concern. But to do this properly we must always try to do your best and improve.

The following are some things that have helped me to improve as a referee. They’re not that hard to do nor do they take a lot of time. Hopefully after you’ve done a few of them you’ll notice that things seem to go smoother for you on the field.

1)  Learn everything you can about the game. Attend every in-service that you can & every clinic that you can. Don’t be satisfied with getting the minimum number of hours needed to maintain your present grade or upgrade to the next level. Also read whatever you can get your hands on. I recommend that you read the Law book and the USSF Advice to Referee’s every couple of months. In addition there have been some excellent books written about soccer refereeing which can help you improve. Three that come to mind are: For the Good of The Game; Fair or Foul Play; and 33 Ways to Become a Better Soccer Referee. All of these books and others are available through Official Sports.

2) Get assessed as many times as you can. Ask for a developmental assessment. Talk with your DRA, assignor, or State Director of Assessments and see if they can have someone look at you every month or so. At every tournament you participate in – find out if there will be assessments being done & if so then ask to be assessed. Listen to what the assessor says. Think about it. Don’t get upset if he/she points out some areas that you need to work on. Ask questions. The feedback and input from these assessors can be invaluable in helping you become a better referee.

3) Watch other referees as they do games. If you’re at a tournament & you get to work with someone who has a State Badge, or who you know is a good referee; watch & learn from the things they do. What was in their pre-game; how did they handle situations which arose in the game; how were their mechanics – were they in position to make the call, where did they position themselves for set pieces; what things did you notice that they did during the game that you might want to incorporate into your next game? Ask questions about what you observed. Most of the senior referees in the state are only too happy to help, but you need to ask them.

4) Get out of your comfort level. Work with your assignor to put you on a game which is a little higher level than what you’ve been accustomed to doing. Be sure that they assign a higher level referee with you so that you’ve got someone who can help you during the game if you need it. If you’ve been refereeing for the same club/association all the time, then be sure to sign up for some tournaments, or contact an assignor from another area and go to another city for a day and referee there, so that you’re in a different setting. Push yourself – take on a challenge.

5) Get in shape. Most of the teams my sons have been associated with practiced two or three times a week. So if the players are working anywhere from three to six hours a week to be ready for their game(s) on the weekend – doesn’t it stand to reason that a referee needs to spend a similar amount of time getting ready for our game(s) on the weekend? The demands made upon you as a referee are often greatest in the last minutes of the game. You have to be physically and mentally as fit at the end of the match as at the beginning.

6) Give every game you do your best effort. Every game you have as an assignment is important to the players, and the fans. So you need to do your best. Don’t take on too many games in one day. No matter how young you are & how fit you are – mental fatigue will still set in.

These are just a few recommendations to help you. They are not overnight fixes, but if you incorporate them into your refereeing, I believe that a year from now when you’re doing your own evaluation of how well you’ve done as a referee – you can say that I’m a better referee.

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By Steve Harvey, Chair, State Referee Committee

The Arkansas Referee Delegation returned from the wettest Youth Regional Tournament in recent history on June 30 from Austin, Texas. The tournament proved to be a test of nerves, physical stamina and plain ole intestinal fortitude. The Austin tournament had a little of everything and a whole lot of others, rain and mud being plenty in quantity. The only things lacking were locusts and perhaps, a farmhouse from Kansas landing on a witch. The Arkansas referees worked through all of  this and came out on an alltime high.

Arkansas referees worked 9 matches in the quarterfinals, 6 in the semifinals and 3 in the finals with Matt Foerster working a line on the U19G, Gabe McNatt working a middle on the U17G and Roger Williams working the middle on the U16B. We were extremely pleased with those assignments but it just got better. Three of our guys placed in the Top 20 Referees of the tournament with Roger Williams, Matt Foerster and Gabe McNatt taking their place at the front of the room. Before we were through celebrating that accomplishment, Darren Bauer and David Henderson took their place along side the others as Top 10 Assistant Referees. Our delegation went crazy because Arkansas placed 3 guys at the front last year which was our all time high and now we had 5. As we were trying to settle down, the Bill Schofield award was presented to the young (under 25) referee of the tournament. The presenter held up one of the Arkansas Young Gunz shirts and we couldn’t believe our eyes, let alone our ears when Gabe McNatt was called to the front. I don’t believe a delegation in attendance was disappointed that their guy wasn’t called as Gabe totally had the tournament of his young life. Our dream night continued as the 9 referees chosen to attend the National Tournament were called and once again, Gabe joined the group going to Disney World. This is the first time an Arkansas referee has earned this honor and our guys went nuts.

The Arkansas delegation included Klay Babin, Mike Ferry, David Henderson, Gabe McNatt, Matt Foerster, Darren Bauer, Wanda Porter, Roger Williams, Doug Kelley, Rigo Chavez, Willie Whitescarver, Tim Ross, Joel Smith, Jerry Corrigan, Jim Montgomery, Steve Kirkland, Kris Bailey and Steve Harvey.

As bad as the weather and conditions, the Arkansas teams and referees showed the rest of Region III that we were for real. What a lasting memory and we look forward to the challenges next year brings.

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By Steve Harvey, Chair, State Referee Committee

As 2004 begins to wind down and we look forward to what 2005 will bring, I wanted to give you some of the highlights the SRC experienced this year. My first full year as Chairman of the State Referee Committee is nearing and I am truly excited about what the next year will bring.

During 2004, the SRC sat down and we talked of ideas for the referee program in Arkansas. One of our first programs, and very possibly our finest, is the Arkansas Young Referee Developmental Program. Many of you will know it by the name given by its members, Young Gunz. The initial group consisted of four young referees and it quickly expanded to include six more. This group made its debut at the Presidents Cup with their distinct burnt orange shirts. These guys and gals represent some of the finest referees and future leaders in our state, and probably in our Region. Six of these Young Gunz represented Arkansas in the rain plagued Southern Regional Youth Tournament held in Austin, Texas in June. Several of the Arkansas teams made the best showing ever for Arkansas teams at Regionals. Not to be outdone, the referees banded together and came away with their best showing ever at Regionals. Three referees made the Top 20 referees in the tournament, while two more made the Top 10 assistant referees. Gabe McNatt was chosen as the best referee in the tournament and was awarded the Bill Scofield award. While he was on a roll, Gabe became the first Arkansas referee chosen to officiate at the National Youth Tournament held in Orlando, Florida. Matt Foerster was chosen to officiate at the National Directors Cup held in Indianapolis, Indiana. The group didn’t stop there. They looked at many of the younger referees in statewide tournaments in search of the next wave of Young Gunz. They have set the bar high.

We instituted the Grade 9 entry-level referee program. The goal is to produce enough referees to handle the ever-increasing demand for referees in our state. These referees fill a need for officials in many parts of the state. We will offer upgrade courses in 2005 to bring these referees up to Grade 8 and, hopefully, beyond. While the jury is still out on the success of this program, the SRC is extremely pleased with the response of these referees.

We have worked to make our Assessors, Assignors and Instructors more knowledgeable. The SRC was able to show how each and every one of these jobs relate to the other and how we need them all to continue growing soccer here in Arkansas. We worked to get everyone registered and within guidelines set forth by US Soccer for our assignors.

The SRC continues to push the benefits of the ACE Program and the Assessor for the Day Program. Not enough of our members have taken advantage of these programs to date. Where we have been invited, the benefits became clear immediately. We hope to take these programs to more members in the coming months.

The SRC also produced a Policy Manual during 2004. This outlines the policies set forth for the referees here in Arkansas. It will be posted online at the referee website. We are also working to make the website more of a tool for each of you. This has become a major focus for us, so you should see a difference soon.

Recertification of referees has been a big push of the SRC for this year. The DRAs are working to hold clinics across the state to register as a referee for 2005. The in-service hours are valuable as you get to learn from others mistakes and gain insight into the levels of officiating. If you haven’t already registered for next year, please contact your DRA and get it done.

The one thing that each of us on the SRC love to do is officiate youth games. Many of you saw us working games on Saturday and Sundays during the year. The SRC tries to support each of you no matter what games you are working. We understand the commitment each of you has made to become a referee. Because of this love for the game, we count our days doing these type matches as priceless. To tell the truth, I would rather work a U8 game than any final match that I have been fortunate enough to draw that assignment and I believe the rest of the committee feels the same.

We have worked to get every part of the state involved with our activities. The SRC traveled to most of the tournaments in the fall to lend support and direction for the referees in Arkansas. Hopefully, we will make even more tournaments next year.

And finally, the SRC has worked many long hours for you this year. The success of the Arkansas referees is our mission and our thanks. There is no off-season for the committee. When there are no games going on, we meet to set our next programs and exchange ideas. This is a dedicated and loyal group. I would personally like to thank each of them for their hard work and assistance; Mark Wagner, State Referee Administrator, Bill Nelson, State Youth Referee Administrator, Vince Henderson, State Director of Instruction, George Anderson, State Assignor Coordinator, Dennis Bauer, State Games Assignor and David Leath, Special Projects for the Committee. We will continue to offer the best we can for each of you. Take a moment and tell them thanks.

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By Steve Harvey, Chair, State Referee Committee

With my position as State Director of Assessments, I get to watch a lot of soccer matches, both youth and amateur. One thing that has really gotten my attention is a lack of referees taking care of persistent infringement. For those that attended Regionals and State Camp, you heard someone speak on this subject as well as showing video to support his position. This person was none other than Esse Baharmast, your boss and mine in the referee world.  I think, because of these presentations, I have become more aware of some of the issues. Esse speaks of protecting attacking soccer and the “beautiful game.” I recently witnessed a couple of incidents that I feel were exactly what he was speaking about.

Game 1: A midfielder on Team A, obviously their best player, touches the ball for the first time. He is immediately taken down in the penalty area by defenderB. A penalty kick is awarded, but no card issued. I didn’t have a problem with no card, because in my opinion, that was a judgment call. The next time the player touches the ball, defender C takes him down in the middle of the field. A foul is called and a free kick taken. The player touches the ball again, and is taken down by defender D. This time, no foul is called and the attacking player, obviously frustrated, shouts at the center referee. The action taken next is that the attacking player is issued a yellow card for dissent. Now, I’m not saying the attacking player is not guilty of dissent and undeserving of a card, but, do you think if the center referee would have dealt with the fouling the second, third or even fourth time, (yes, he was taken down again), maybe the attacking player feels protected and doesn’t get his card?

Game 2: A striker on Team A, gets past his defender. The defender makes a legal slide tackle and pokes the ball into touch. On the follow through, the defender leaves his foot in the air and kicks the attacker in the shin. Later on, the same defender within 10 yards of the center referee again takes down the attacker. The attacker, frustrated, gets up and gets in the face of the defender. The center referee does not speak to either player. The free kick is taken and as both players continue up the field, obviously talking to each other, the referee stops the action and red cards the attacking player. Now, granted, I didn’t hear what was said, but I did hear the “F” word at least 3 times during the match with the AR telling the offending player to watch his mouth. I also counted 4 other fouls that could have resulted in a card. Again, I’m not questioning the judgment of the center referee, but could he have possibly handled things differently? I wondered what the attacking player could have said that was worst in the opinion of the referee than the “F” word. In both cases, I saw a lack of verbal communication that could have helped handle a potential major problem and turn it into a trifling offense.

I think both of these illustrations offer credence to what Esse was talking about. A defender is allowed to foul to the point of the attacker becoming a nonfactor in the match and in the second case, the attacker is sent off. Please do not mistake my comments to say the attacker was right in what he did or said, but open your thinking to see if, perhaps, you as a center could have made a difference in the outcome. I have never seen the need to know players, their tendencies or past histories. I always viewed these things as only needed in the highest of matches, but has become apparent to me that I need to pay attention even at the youth level. As a referee, you must come to each match fully prepared for what might lie ahead.

The challenge has been issued to each of us as referees to protect attacking soccer and I, again, place that challenge before you now. We, as referees, need to protect the “beautiful game” for the players and fans, now and for those yet to come.

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By Steve Harvey, Chair, State Referee Committee

As many of you know, I was elected Chairman of the SRC on Saturday, February 28th at the Annual General Meeting of the Arkansas State Soccer Association. I would like to thank each of you for your continued support of the SRC.

First of all, let me start off by expressing my sincere thanks to Steve Kirkland for his service and dedication to Arkansas Soccer and the SRC. His vision and tireless efforts have shaped the referee program here in Arkansas to the point at which we find ourselves today. His countless contributions will be remembered by myself and by those fortunate enough to serve with and under his leadership.

Let me assure you of this, the SRC is committed to continuing to raise the bar of excellence within the ranks of referees here in Arkansas. This Committee is focused on bringing attention to our referees from the Region and the Nation. We have set the bar high and have shown continued improvement within the referee community.

The SRC has set goals to benchmark our desires and ambitions for the referees of Arkansas. It is through the efforts of each of you that we will achieve these goals set for the referees of Arkansas. Our state has shown enormous results in the caliber of referees and their abilities in a short period of time. The SRC feels like we have turned the attention of the Region to our state and now is our time to shine.

I ask for your help, your ideas and your dedication during my term as Chairman of the SRC. Feel free to contact me with any questions, comments or concerns. We face a big challenge, but with your support we will succeed.

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By Jim Green, State Referee

We all have our own stories as to how we got our start as a soccer referee. In early 1999, my oldest son, who was 14 at the time, decided he wanted to become a referee in order to earn a little extra spending money. Since he couldn’t drive, my wife or I would need to take him to his assigned games. As a result, I decided to go through the class with him. Assuming we both passed (which we did), we could referee games together, or at least at the same complex. This worked out well; however, after one season, he retired. I, on the other hand, was hooked. I had found a hobby that I wanted to pursue.

After I had a couple of seasons under my belt, I started to ponder what it would take to upgrade to the next level. I discovered that to become a grade 7 referee, I would need 75 three-man crew USSF games as the center referee (high school and all other non-USSF sanctioned games didn’t count). In addition, I would need at least 25 games as an assistant referee. In the year of my upgrade, I would also need at least 5 hours of USSF Intermediate Level Training and would need to score at least 85% on the USSF Referee Exam. Once I completed these requirements, I would have to pass an assessment to advance to grade 7. With all of my other life commitments, it took me about two years working game after game under a lot of different weather conditions to complete the required game count. After passing my assessment and passing the exam, I had achieved my goal and was now a grade 7 soccer referee. Since the time I became a grade 7, the upgrade process has been expanded to include a fitness test.

Since I was already in my forties, I figured grade 7 would be the end of the line for me. However, the allure of the state referee badge kept calling me and I found myself with a new goal. Once I understood the requirements to upgrade to grade 6 (state referee 2), I knew this road would be much more difficult than the road I traveled upgrading to grade 7. I would need 25 additional USSF 3 man-crew centers at the level of U19 and above. In the year of my upgrade, I would need at least 19 hours of Advanced Referee Training and would need to achieve a score of at least 75% on the USSF State Referee Exam, which is much more difficult than the standard USSF Referee Exam. I would also be required to pass a fitness test and would need to pass three assessments, two as a center referee and one as an assistant referee.

Again, considering my other life commitments, it took me approximately two years to complete the necessary game count for grade 6. This occurred at the end of 2002. I attended a two-day soccer clinic in February of 2003 in order to complete part of the training hours that I would need for my upgrade. I was now ready to begin my assessments, as the remainder of the training I would need, the fitness test, and the written exam, all would occur at State Referee Camp in the summer. In understanding the assessment process, the first thing I learned was that not any U19 game would do. The game needed to be competitive and would require me to demonstrate player management skills at a level deemed appropriate for a state referee. There were three possible outcomes from an assessment game, only one of which was the desired outcome. First, the referee could in effect pass the assessment; however, if the game was not competitive or did not force the referee to display the appropriate player management skills, the assessment would not count toward the upgrade. Second, regardless of the level of the game, the referee could make a mistake that was deemed significant enough in the eyes of the assessor to result in a failed assessment. If the referee failed the assessment, two additional assessment games would be required to make up for the failed assessment. Finally, the third and desired outcome would be that the game was competitive, required player management skills appropriate for a state referee, and that the referee received a passing grade from the assessor.

In central Arkansas, the best prospects for state referee assessment games are Latino games or A division games from the men’s amateur league. The first step in the assessment process is to work with an assignor to get a game that appears to be a good candidate for an upgrade assessment. Once an assignment has been secured, the next step is to request the State Director of Assessments to assign an assessor to the game.

For my first assessment game, I was assigned to be the center referee in a Latino game that pitted two of the better teams in the league. The game occurred early on a cold Sunday morning in February. As soon as the game started, it began to snow and it continued to snow throughout the game. The game turned out not to be competitive, and as I expected, it would not count toward my upgrade. I was discouraged as I headed home to thaw out; however, I reminded myself that I knew with any assessment game, there is a risk that the game would not count. 

My next assessment game pitted the two leading teams from the A division of the Men’s Amateur League. It turned out to be a great game. The score was 1-0 at half time, 1-1- mid way through the second half, and finished 2-1. This one counted, right? Wrong! Although the game was competitive, the assessor pointed out, and I had to agree, that my player management skills were not tested. Both teams played a clean game with minimal fouls and no cautions or send offs. In addition to these two games, I also had two assigned games for assessments during this time frame where no assessor was available to do the game. Although I hadn’t failed an assessment, I was in a sense zero for four and I couldn’t help but wonder if it wasn’t in the cards for me to be a state referee.

After some serious soul searching, I convinced myself that I had come too far to quit now. Fortunately, my next three assessment games all counted, and I passed each one. With three passed assessments under my belt, once as an assistant referee and twice as a center referee, I had now completed the assessment process for my upgrade. Once State Camp rolled around in August, I completed my remaining training requirements, passed the fitness test, and passed the written exam. With a great sense of accomplishment, I finally received my very own state referee badge!

After working so hard to achieve this goal, it would have been tempting to sit back and relax a little. However, I realized that I owed it to the game to perform at a state referee level at every assigned game, whether it be an adult game or a U9 recreational game. This meant that I needed to keep learning how to be a better referee through clinics, assessments, studying the laws of the game, getting advice from more experienced referees, and by staying physically fit. I now train year round as I know there is no way I can bring my “A” game with me if I’m not fit. Have I had bad games since receiving my state badge? You bet! However, the key for any referee, regardless of grade, is to learn from your mistakes and keep working to improve. If we are going to wear the referee badge, we owe it to the game.

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By Steve Harvey, Chair, State Referee Committee

I love listening to some of the ingenious barbs thrown out during athletic events. Some of them show that people are paying more attention to what they can say, instead of watching the actual event. And I have to admit, some are very clever. This practice has been around as long as the matches have been played.

Stop and think, “ How many times have I yelled at the officials during a game?” Before you answer, be aware of a very important word, ETHICS. Now,  if you answered any number above 1, then did you know you have violated the ethics policy of USSF soccer? You see, part of the ethical treatment of fellow (or fellowette)  officials is to NOT publicly criticize their performance. This is not to say that you can’t speak to the official or discuss their actions. I’m just saying that you need to think before you speak.

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FLAG RIPPINGBy Steve Harvey, Chair, State Referee Committee

I have worked tournaments in three states over the past two months and I have witnessed something that I hope we can correct here in Arkansas. It involves the substitution process. In the Laws of the Game, the Assistant Referee is given specific duties. One is to indicate, “When a substitute is requested.” The correct signal is the flag held horizontally above the head to signal the request. Nowhere can I find that the Assistant Referee is to “rip the flag” to gain the attention of the Center. Part of the responsibility of the Center is to check at every stoppage for substitutes. I realize why some people perform this “flag ripping” but please consider this, substituting is a privilege, not a right. You, as a Center, do not have to let a team sub, but we do so in order to be nice (yeah, right). I feel if a team of coach doesn’t think enough to call out for a sub, why should it fall on the Assistant Referee to make sure the team can sub? Don’t take my word for it, check with an assessor or a senior referee and see what they have to say. That’s all for now, keep up the good work.

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By Steve Harvey, Chair, State Referee Committee

I know for most of us, Christmas consisted of eating, sleeping and presents. This year, the weather gave us snow and ice for the holidays. Staying at home, being with family and sleeping late all played into most plans.

Well, for 4 of our Arkansas State Referees, Christmas was spent with Mickey Mouse at the Disney Invitational Showcase Tournament. Roger Williams, Matt Foerster, Darren Bauer and Klay Babin left on Christmas day to attend the weeklong tournament. Boys teams took the field from Monday until Thursday with the girls coming to town for games from Thursday until Sunday. Teams from U14 to U19 were invited to the tournament. US Soccer held a National Referee camp in conjunction with the tournament looking for the next wave of National referees.

Teams from all 4 Regions in the United States, as well as, International teams participated. Our guys worked approximately 100 games between them during the week. Talk to them about their experiences. I think they will tell you how much they enjoyed their time at Disney. Who knows, maybe you can go with them next time.

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By Brian Caldwell, Referee Assessor/Instructor

What is a goal kick?

A goal kick is a method of restarting play. A goal may be scored directly from a goal kick, but only against the opposing team.

When is a Goal Kick awarded?

A goal kick is awarded when the whole of the ball, having last touched a player of the attacking team, passes over the goal line, either on the ground or in the air, and a goal is not scored.

What is the Goal Kick procedure?

The ball is kicked from any point within the goal area by a player of the defending team.  The kicking teams opponents remain outside the penalty area until the ball is in play.  The kicker does not play the ball a second time until it has touched another player.  The ball is in play when it is kicked directly beyond the penalty area.

What are the infringements and sanctions?

If the ball is not kicked directly into play beyond the penalty area, the kick is retaken

What are the key things to remember?

A goal kick is awarded when the ball crosses the goal line, and a goal is not scored, when last touched by an attacking player.

There is no offside on a goal kick.

All attacking players must be outside the penalty area.

The ball may be placed anywhere in the goal area.

Any player on the defending team may take the goal kick.

The player who takes the kick may not touch the ball twice before another player touches the ball.

The ball is not in play until it clears the penalty area.

If the ball doesn’t clear the penalty area, the kick is retaken… as many times as is necessary.

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By Brian Caldwell, Referee Assessor/Instructor

More years ago than I care to tell, I was a citizen sailor, a member of the United States Navy.  One of the first things the Navy introduced me to was a uniform and how to wear it with pride.  I must admit that I was not the best pupil, but I witnessed the terror of boot camp and was at least able to understand that it was easier to get along when you were willing to go along.  I remember finding the whole thing silly.  I remember thinking, “It isn’t the uniform, but who is in it”.

Then through the generosity of American Taxpayers, I was allowed to take an all expenses paid tour of the Mediterranean.  I encountered people (in rather large numbers) who well understood what the uniform of the US Navy meant.  And, frankly, some were not overwhelmingly impressed by its splendor.  I quickly realized that the uniform was bigger than I was.  What the uniform did was identify me.  It set me apart and established what I was in spite of what I thought I was.  What the uniform represented was every citizen sailor.  It also represented every soldier, airman, marine, guardsman, and citizen of the USA.  I relearned how to wear my uniform with pride and did not in the least find it silly.

Today, on occasion, I wear a USSF referee uniform.  I cannot say that the uniform fits quite as well as the uniform I received from the USN, but I can say that I wear it with pride.  I can also say that when I wear it I encounter people who well understand what the uniform means.  And, frankly, some are not overwhelmingly impressed by its splendor. 

Like my Navy uniform, it sets me apart.  It makes me highly visible, and rightly so.  That is the purpose of the referee uniform, to make the referee stand out and separate him or her from the players.  Its’ purpose is to help the referee have presence and add to his or her authority.  When a referee wears a sloppy uniform, it diminishes his or her authority.  A sloppy uniform degrades not only the referee who wears it, but it also degrades every other referee.

When I present myself to the field for my first game, I try to be sure my shirt is tucked in, my socks are up, my badge is on, and my shoes are clean (if not polished).  These are certainly small things, but they are not trivial things.  Because, you see, as with my Navy uniform, the referee uniform represents many more people than me.  When I put on a referee uniform, I represent each and every one of you. I am proud to be associated with you and I want you to think well of me.

When I see someone who is not quite up to grade, I don’t admonish them, but I do point out that their socks are drooping or their shirt is a little askew or not quite tucked in.  There have been times when these things have been pointed out to me.  Once, recently in fact, my badge was upside down.  The individual who brought it to my attention wasn’t being rude and I was not offended.  He was being helpful and I was grateful.  So, if someone says, “Hey, Ref, tuck your shirt in.”  Do it with a smile and say, “Thanks, Ref.”  Because, you see, you are who is in your uniform and when you put on that uniform you represent me and every other USSF referee.

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By Brian Caldwell, Referee Assessor/Instructor

What is a throw in?

A throw in is a method of restarting play and is governed by Law XV – The Throw in.

When does a throw in occur?

A throw in occurs when the whole of the ball passes over the whole of the touch line.  The touch line is the line that runs along each side of the field.  When the ball is between the two touch lines, it is out of touch and when the ball completely crosses the touch line (in the air or on the ground) the ball is in touch.  The opponents of the player who last touched the ball return the ball to play by a throw in.  A goal may not be scored directly from a throw in.

What is the proper method for a throw in?

The ball is returned to play at the point where it crossed the touch line.  A yard leeway is allowed from that point.

The thrower must face the field.  That doesn’t mean the player may not stand sideways.  It means the thrower may not turn his back to the field at the moment of releasing the ball into play.

Part of either foot must be on the touch line or on the ground outside the touch line.  In other words, neither foot may be across the touch line.

Both hands must be used.  That does not mean the ball may not spin.

The ball must be delivered from the behind and over the head.  Not beside the head or from the face or chest.

What are the limitations on the opponents of the thrower?

Opponents may not interfere with the delivering of the ball into play.  An opponent may not stand in front of the thrower.  In fact, the thrower should be at least 2 yards from the thrower.  The specific wording in the law is as follows:

 “All opponents must stand no less than two meters from the point at which the throw-in is taken.”


“If an opponent unfairly distracts or impedes the thrower he is cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card.”

According to a recent (January 8, 2006) USSF communication, enforcing of the minimum distance on Throw-Ins should mirror the methods used for enforcing the minimum distance on Free-Kicks.

Besides the throw in procedure, what are the limitations on the thrower?

Regardless of what the opponent does, the thrower may not deliberately throw the ball directly at an opponent.  This could be considered violent conduct and may result in dismissal from the field.

The thrower may not touch the ball again until it has touched another player even though the ball is in play immediately it enters the field of play.  If after the ball is in play, the thrower touches the ball a second time before it has touched another player, her opponents are awarded an indirect free kick at the place where the foul occurred.

A player may throw the ball to any player, including a goalkeeper.  A goalkeeper may not, however, receive the ball directly into her hands from a throw in when her teammate has executed the throw in.  If she does, the opposing team gets an indirect free kick from the spot of the foul.  A goalkeeper may use her hands when an opponent has thrown the ball in.

What happens if the thrower fails to property throw the ball in?

What happens if the thrower fails to property throw the ball in?

If the thrower fails in one of the five items mentioned above, the throw goes to the other team.

What if the ball never enters the field?

The throw in is retaken.

Things to remember:

1.    All of the ball crosses all of the touch line in the air or on the ground

2.    Two hands

3.    Through the head

4.    Both feet on the ground

5.    Within a yard of where the ball left the field

6.    The ball is in play as soon as it reenters the field

7.    Opponents may not interfere with the throw in

8.    Enforce minimum distance like any free kick restart

9.    Can throw to your goalkeeper, but the goalkeeper may not use hands

10.  Improper throw in, the other team gets the ball

11.  The thrower may not touch the ball after a throw in until someone else does

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By Brian Caldwell, Referee Assessor/Instructor

I had the great good fortune of attending the Arkansas State Referee Camp this year.  I had the even greater good fortune of receiving instruction from a FIFA referee.  As you all know, there are only 10 FIFA referees in the United States.  This was truly an honor. 

The FIFA referee was Ali Shaheli.  Mr. Shaheli’s presentation was exciting, enthusiastic, and covered a wide variety of topics and issues.  One recurring theme, to me, was the importance of Pre Game preparation.  Obviously, most of us will never have the opportunity to be a FIFA referee and few of us will ever referee a game that will require a FIFA referee.  For the most part, we will have to content ourselves with local soccer club games and tournaments.  Does that mean the games we referee are unimportant?  Does that mean Pre Game preparation is unimportant?  Every game we referee is a chance to teach and a chance to learn.  What can be more important than that?  Preparation is not only important, it is essential to maximize your teaching and learning.

If Pre Game preparation is different for us, then what is Pre Game preparation?  Pre Game preparation begins the moment you become aware of an assignment and ends the moment you give the signal to start your assigned game. Review any special rules involved in the game for the age group or competition level you are asked to referee.  Think about the people you may interact with.  If you have refereed either team before, think about what you might do different or the same.  If you have never refereed either team, review your previous experience in games for that age and level of competition.

Check out your referee bag.  Do you have a whistle and a spare just in case?  Do you have a least one watch that works (two is better)?  Make sure you have your badge.  Is your uniform clean?  Do you have a backup jersey?  What do your shoes look like?  Check your game report and make sure you have some blanks and, of course, you must have those red and yellow cards?  Do you have a coin?  Is there any other equipment you might need?  Now is the time to find out what you don’t have and not when you arrive at the field.

It is probably too late to worry about getting in physical shape.  But you can get in mental and emotional shape and there are still things you can do to prepare physically.  Rest well the night before the game.  Eat appropriately.  Warm your body up and stretch before the game.  Arrive early if you can.  Bring water or whatever fluid works for you.  Clear your mind of negative thoughts.  Remember the game is not for you, the game is for the players.

So, now you are at the field.  What do you do?  Find the other referees, if there are any.  Don’t just stand around like a spectator.  Show yourself.  If you are the only referee, walk the field.  If you’re an assistant referee, find the referee.  If he/she has not arrived, then you walk the field.  If both assistant referees are present, then both of you walk the field.

When you walk the field, look for potential problem areas.  Are there any holes or excess sand or water?  Check the touchlines, are they straight?  Is the field square?  Is the midfield line about right?  Is there a center circle?  Measure it, it will be your guide for the minimum distance for the whole game.  Check the penalty arc, the penalty area, the penalty spot, the goal line and the goal area.  If there may be penalty kicks involved, know where the spot should be.  If it is wrong, know it before the game.  Check the goals.  Are they anchored?  Do the goals have nets?  Are the nets in good shape?  Check the corner flags.  Make sure they are the right height (at least 5 feet for safety).  Go to midfield on the spectator side.  Check the midfield flag.  Whether there is a midfield flag or not, step off a yard.  Greet the Mom and Dad’s.  Ask them to stay behind the flag, for the safety of the players.

If you are an assistant referee, check the touchlines closely.  Orient yourself to the field.  Determine what square is and decide how you will determine that you are even with the second to last defender.  Do a quick mental check on flag mechanics while you stand on the touchline and face the field.

Greet the coaches.  If you have found something on the field, let them know about it.  Don’t preach or visit, just let them know you are there.  Ask them if it is a good time to check their players.  Ask them if they expect all their players at game time or if they expect any late arrivals.  Tell them what your substitution procedure will be.  Tell them how to bring in late arrivals.  Remind them about the blood rules.  In the lower levels where cards are not involved, talk to the coach about how you want to deal with problem players.

Check the players.  Don’t lecture, especially at the upper levels.  If there is some special instruction you want to give, stick to the facts and be prepared to stand behind what you say.  In lower levels, it is probably a good idea to line the players up.  If you do, get their attention but don’t talk down to them.  They are still players (not boys and girls), even if they are seven.  In upper levels, a walk through may be more appropriate.  Remember you are there for the players and not the other way around.  Remember that all jewelry is inappropriate.  Safety first.  Besides what you allow will impact the next referee.  Remember the 5 S’s.

1.  Shirt – Tucked in at check-in.  Once the game starts, things happen.

2.  Shorts

3.  Shinguards – Completely covered by

4.  Socks – Over the shinguards, not under.

5.  Shoes – No toe cleats or sharp edges.

Now is the time for the pre game conference.  Pre game conference?  When you are alone?  Yep, even when you are alone.  If you are alone, get out of the way off by yourself.  Watch the players.  Watch how the coach deals with the players.  Get some water.  Chill.  Run over the special rules for the competition in your mind.

If you aren’t alone and you are the referee, talk to your assistants about what you expect from them.  If you are the assistant referee, talk about your concerns and ask any questions you might have.  No referee wants to find out in the middle of the game that you are unsure about how to handle a particular situation.  It is as much your pre game as the referee’s pre game.  Pay attention to one another.  Don’t gossip, but do discuss facts about the players, coaches, and teams.  Don’t prejudge anyone, just be aware of prior occurrences.  Talk over how you will do the coin toss or any other ceremonial duties.  Discuss field conditions and any special rules of competition involved.  If you are the referee, designate a senior assistant and discuss bench control procedures.  Get comfortable with one another and get on the same page.  Become the third team on the field.

So, what is a good minimum pre game conference?  Well, that is really up to you.  I don’t presume that my minimum pre game is that great, but it goes like this:

1.  Stay even with the second to last defender or the ball, whichever is closer to the goal.

2.  Follow the ball all the way to the goal line, you will be the first judge of the goal line.

3.  Watch the whole length of the touchline.  On your side give me direction when needed.  If you don’t know which way, I will decide.

4.  On the far end, if I don’t look back at you, I will take care of ball in and out.

5.  If I look at you, let me know if it is in or out.  If I look again, give me direction.

6.  On throw-ins, watch the field and I will watch the thrower (unless the play is a few yards away from you).  I would rather have 4 eyes on the field than 4 eyes on a throw-in.

7.  When play is in close to you, give a little more weight to the play than to offside.

8.  If you see a foul in your area, give me a flag.  But, don’t lose sight of advantage.

9.  The closer you get to the goal area, the faster I want a flag.  I can wave you off, I cannot wave you up.

10.  If I wave you off, relax, I will take the heat.

11.  If you see a foul in the penalty area, look at me first, if I missed it, call it, I can always wave you off.

12.  On PK’s come in to the 18 and watch the keeper.  I will take care of everything else.

13.  On corner kicks, control the 10 yards on your side.

14.  On corner kicks, watch the goal line on the kick, then go to offside when the ball is clearly in play.

15.  Technical fouls on the keeper are mine.

16.  On substitutions, move to midfield when I am on the far side and control the sub process.  When you return to your position, I will restart or give me a thumbs-up if midfield is your position.

17.  On goal kicks, don’t become overwhelmed by placement.  Just let me know if it is persistently or excessively out of the goal area.

18.  On goal kicks, make sure the ball clears the penalty area.

19.  If a goal is scored, make eye contact and move up the line toward midfield.

20.  Every time the ball is out of play, look over the field, find me and make eye contact, check the touchline.  Lemme no you are otay.

That is my pre game.  Obviously, some discussion goes with each point.  Think about and develop your own pre game. Steal from other referees.  Take pieces of each pre game you have been through.  Think about what you want to know and what your expectations are; then write them down.

After the pre game (or whenever it is convenient), get a ball.  Check it out.  For most games, if it is the right size, if it is round and bounces, if it is safe, that is good enough.  At upper levels, check the air pressure, air the ball up if you need to or get another ball.  If there are ball chasers, give them any instructions you want them to have.  At a minimum, say hello and thank them for their help.

If you’re alone, move onto the field and ask for Captains.  Don’t yell or be abrupt unless you have no choice.  Face the assistant referees and have the players between you and your assistants.  Greet the Captains.  Be in charge but don’t bark or be disrespectful.  The higher the level of play, the more formal you need to be.  Have the players shake hands and greet one another.  Introduce your assistants.  If you have any last minute instructions to pass on, do it now.  Find out who will call the toss if there is more than one visiting Captain.  Show the players the coin.  Toss the coin.  Make sure the players know the call and the result of the toss.  Tell the players when you want to start.  Give the assistant referees any last minute instructions and send them on their way.

Once the players are in position,

1.  Count the players

2.  Check to make sure the assistants are ready.

3.  Take a deep breath.

4.  Start the game.

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By Brian Caldwell, Referee Assessor/Instructor

Yes, these are covered in Law XII.

For the most part, the goalkeeper is free to use her hands extensively in her own penalty area.  However, there are three circumstances where that is not true.

1.  She may not touch the ball again with her hands once she has released it from her possession.  Releasing the ball includes placing the ball on the ground, throwing the ball, or kicking the ball.  It doesn’t include tossing the ball in the air or bouncing the ball when in the act of kicking or throwing the ball into play.

2.  She may not touch the ball with her hands when it has been kicked deliberately to her by a teammate.  This rule does not mean that the goalkeeper may not touch a ball last played by a teammate.  However, this rule may not be circumvented by trickery such as kicking the ball away from the keeper but in such a manner that it is assured that the keeper will touch the ball.

3.  She may not touch the ball with her hands when it is thrown in by a teammate.

The goalkeeper is also restricted in how long she may control the ball with her hands and how she may place the ball into play. Since the goalkeeper’s opponents may not interfere with her placing the ball into play, a special rule was created to prevent her from abusing this privilege.  Generally this is referred to as the 6 second rule. The 6 second rule is that from the time the goalkeeper takes control of the ball with her hands, she has 6 seconds to release the ball into play.  The process of placing the ball in play includes carrying the ball.  Carrying the ball includes tossing the ball into the air or bouncing the ball on the ground, as long as she is in the process of putting the ball into play.

If the goalkeeper violates these rules, the penalty is an indirect free kick for her opponents from the place of the foul, unless the foul happens in the goal area.  If the foul occurs in the goal area, the ball is placed on the line parallel to the goal line closest to where the foul occurred.

Things to remember:

1.  The goalkeeper may not receive the ball directly from a teammate.

2.  Once the goalkeeper releases the ball into play, she cannot handle it again until an opposing player touches the ball.

3.  An opponent may not interfere with the goalkeeper releasing the ball into play.

4.  The goalkeeper has six seconds to release the ball into play.

5.  The penalty is an indirect kick for the goalkeeper’s opponents.

The goalkeeper is considered to be in control of the ball by touching it with any part of his hand or arms. Possession of the ball includes the goalkeeper deliberately parrying the ball, but does not include the circumstances where, in the opinion of the referee, the ball rebounds accidentally from the goalkeeper, for example after he has made a save. The goalkeeper is considered to be guilty of time-wasting if he holds the ball in his hands or arms for more than 5-6 seconds.


A player may pass the ball to his own goalkeeper using his head or chest or knee, etc.  If, however, in the opinion of the referee, a player uses a deliberate trick while the ball is in play in order to circumvent the Law, the player is guilty of unsporting behavior.  That player is cautioned, shown the yellow card and an indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team from the place where the infringement occurred.

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By Brian Caldwell, Referee Assessor/Instructor

How are direct and indirect kicks different?

Let’s start with how they are the same.

1.  Both are free kicks.

2.  Both are the result of fouls.

3.  Both are taken at the spot of the foul unless the foul occurred in the goal area or a penalty kick is involved.

4.  Neither team can score against itself from either a direct or indirect kick.

5.  The ball must be stationary prior to the kick being taken.

6.  The kicker may not touch the ball twice before someone else has touched the ball.

7.  The ball is in play once the ball is touched and moves (unless the defending team is taking a kick in its penalty area).

8.  Under either circumstance, all opponents of the kicker must move away from the ball and not interfere with the ball being placed in play, whether covertly or overtly.

9.  Lastly, both are subject to Law XIII (Free Kicks).

So, how are they different?

1.  When an indirect kick is awarded, the referee signals with his/her hand held in the air, from the time the kick is taken until any other player has touched the ball.

2.  When an indirect free kick is taken, if no one but the kicker touches the ball and the ball enters either goal, no goal is scored.

3.  When a direct free kick is taken, if the ball enters the goal of the kicker’s opponent, whether anyone else touches the ball or not, a goal is awarded.  If the ball enters the kicker’s goal, no goal is scored.

Are there any special considerations?

1.  A direct or indirect kick taken from the kicker’s penalty area must leave the penalty area before it is in play.

2.  A direct or indirect kick taken from the kicker’s goal area may be taken from any spot in the goal area.

3.  A direct kick awarded in the kicker’s opponents’ penalty area results in a penalty kick.

4.  When an indirect kick is awarded in the kicker’s opponents’ penalty area, all opponents cannot be closer than ten yards (distance varies with age) from the ball unless they are on the goal line.  They then may be closer than ten yards from the ball.

5.  When an indirect kick is awarded in the kicker’s opponents’ penalty area, the kick is taken from the goal area line parallel to the goal line closest to where the foul occurred.

6.  You cannot score against yourself on either a direct or an indirect kick.  If you kick the ball directly into your own goal, no goal is scored.

What are some things to remember?

1.  The ball must be stationary.

2.  The referee gives a special signal when an indirect kick is awarded.

3.  The team not awarded the kick must move away (or be moving away) from the ball and not interfere with the kick.

4.  On an indirect kick, two players must touch the ball before a goal can be scored.

5.  The kicker cannot touch the ball a second time until another player has touched the ball.

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By Brian Caldwell, Referee Assessor/Instructor

When do you become a referee and how do people know it?  When you complete an entry level referee clinic, pass the test, and get your BADGE, you are a referee.  When you step on the field with your uniform and your Badge, you are a referee.  So, what is it with this Badge?  When you hear referees say, “You have to protect the Badge”, what does that mean?  What does protecting the Badge have to do with you?  Why do you care?

The Referee Administrative Handbook, Part III (Standards of Conduct), Subpart C provides a Code of Ethics for Referees.  The Code consists of 12 statements.  Each statement begins with the word ‘I”.  The ‘I’ is you.  The ‘I’ is me.  This is not rhetorical.  Each statement addresses how each of us has agreed to operate when we put on the Badge.  There are certain things we will do, certain things we will not do, a certain standard we will maintain, and a principal we will adhere to.  All of the statements together define what it means “to protect the Badge”.  Since each statement points directly toward you and I, it is essential that you and I understand and abide by the Code.  The Code demands that we protect the Badge.


Statement (1)
I will always maintain the utmost respect for the game of soccer.

  • Do the simple things. 
  • Wear your uniform with pride. 
  • Speak respectfully with fans, coaches, and players. 

Statement (2)
I will conduct myself honorably at all times and maintain the dignity of my position.

  • Recognize that you are the authority figure on the field and not a player. 
  • You will not be respected unless you act like a referee. 
  • Go the extra yard and don’t expect to be respected just because you have on a yellow shirt.

Statement (3)
I will always honor an assignment or any other contractual obligation.

  • If you commit, be there.  If you cannot be there, give as much advance warning as possible. 
  • Make sure you are prepared for any assignment you accept. 
  • Be on time.

Statement (4)
I will attend training meetings and clinics so as to know the Laws of the Game, their proper interpretation and their application.

  • Training is a requirement, not an option. We cannot be on the same page without it. 
  • If you cannot attend formal training, arrange to meet with an instructor, assessor, or assignor and talk things over. 
  • The main thing is to stay current and consistent with other referees.

Statement (5)
I will always strive to achieve maximum team work with my fellow officials.

  • Get to know one another.
  • Develop an effective pre-game process and make sure you understand what is expected of each team member at every game. 
  • Teamwork requires involvement and input.  Ask for it when appropriate and provide it when asked.

Statement (6)
I will be loyal to my fellow officials and never knowingly promote criticism of them.

  • As the saying goes, ‘Loose lips sink ships’.  The best way to destroy trust is to spread rumors.
  • People know what you are whether you have a uniform on or not.
  • If a referee is down, lend them a hand up and not a put down.

Statement (7)
I will be in good condition.

  • Be in good enough condition to perform your duties.
  • Develop a plan to stay in condition.
  • You can’t earn your paycheck from the center circle.

Statement (8)
I will control the players effectively by being courteous and considerate without sacrificing fairness.

  • The game belongs to the players.  The referee is on the field by invitation.
  • Be a good guest or you may not be invited back.
  • Memorize the V8 clause. 

Statement (9)
I will do my utmost to assist my fellow officials to better themselves and their work.

  • A chain is only as strong as its’ weakest link.  Whenever possible, strengthen each link.
  • If you ask for advice, listen to it.
  • If you give advice, make it sincere and honest.


Statement (10)
I will not make statements about any games except to clarify an interpretation of the laws of the Game.

  • If you weren’t there, don’t guess, say you don’t know.  You aren’t being vague, you’re being honest.
  • Remember the next question may be about a game you’re calling.
  • Elucidate about the laws and not about somebody’s shortcomings.

Statement (11)
I will not discriminate against nor take advantage of any individual group on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

  • The sport is an international sport, get with the program.
  • If you can’t get with the program, find another way to spend your time.
  • The sport belongs to the players, all the players.


Statement (12)                       
I consider it a privilege to be a part of the United States Soccer Federation and my actions will reflect credit upon that organization and its affiliates.

  • Be proud you are a referee
  • Recognize that it is an honor to put the Badge on your chest before each game.
  • Live up to the privilege that has been accorded you.

Your badge doesn’t belong to you.  It belongs to all referees.  It represents all referees.  It is what grants you the authority to be a referee.  When you don’t live up to the Code of Conduct, you don’t protect the Badge.  When you don’t protect the Badge, you subtract from the value of the Badge for all referees.  When you live by the Code of Conduct, you protect the Badge.  When you protect the Badge, you add to the value of the Badge for all referees.  Protect the Badge, for all of us.

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By Brian Caldwell, Referee Assessor/Instructor

Every referee can (and probably will) encounter a crisis of confidence.  That crisis can occur regardless of the referee’s grade or level of experience.  I believe there are four separate emotional roadblocks that can lead to that crisis.  They are:

1.      Fallibility

2.      Fear

3.      Frustration

4.      Failure

Without a doubt, refereeing a soccer game is physically demanding.  A hard game will take its toll on those who are not physically prepared.  That can be said as well for the mental requirements of refereeing a soccer game.  Every referee must have a firm grasp of the Laws of the Game.  The necessity for physical and mental preparation is obvious to spectators and readily apparent to virtually every referee.  There is a third aspect of the game that most referees ignore.  That is the emotional part of the game and the need for being emotionally prepared.  Failure to prepare emotionally will lead to the referee’s inability to effectively manage the game.  I believe there are four emotional barriers to succeeding as a referee that will be confronted, sometimes several times, over a referee’s lifetime.


Every referee is capable of making an error and every referee knows it.  It is this part of human nature that causes referees to question their actions at crucial times in their game.  It is at those moments that it is most essential that referees believe they are correct in their actions that some referees pause in their belief in themselves.  This pause makes them hesitate and lose faith in their ability to perform.  Even experienced and competent referees can experience this self doubt.  This is not reflection, but a complete collapse in confidence, even if only momentary.  This collapse is due to our human frailty and our inability to overcome the certain understanding that each of us has that we are fallible.


This is not the fight or flight fear but the fear of criticism or non-acceptance that stifles a referee’s ability to make a decision.  This fear creates lose-lose situations on the field.  When referees are overcome by fear, they either become paralyzed and indecisive or defensive and abusive.  It is at these moments that a referee must make a difficult or perhaps unpopular decision and cannot do so.  Players from both teams lose faith in the referee and his/her every decision becomes suspect.  The players begin to take control of the game through retaliation and/or dissent.  The core of this fear is a sense on the referee’s part that they are inadequate or ill prepared for the level of play.


This isn’t the frustration of the referee, but the frustration of a player, coach, or fan.  Players have expectations.  When those expectations encounter a different reality, players can become frustrated.  Sometimes, that frustration can be misdirected toward a referee.  Very often, the referee overreacts and unwarranted tension is created between the referee and the players.  This emotional reaction does not resolve the problem, but spreads frustration and can lead to a continuous series of confrontations between the players/coaches/fans and the referee.


Referees are generally harsh self critics.  There is an old saying that referees are expected to be perfect and get better.  Every referee will fall short of that requirement and, because of their general propensity to be overly critical; this can lead to an emotional meltdown.  Remember, it isn’t the failure itself but the referees’ inability to emotionally cope with his/her inner expectations for performance that creates a confidence dilemma.


So, what do you do? How do you overcome the awareness that you are fallible?  How do you overcome the fear of non-acceptance?  What do you do about player frustration?  How do you deal with your own crushing comprehension that you have failed?

To begin with, you give yourself the FREEDOM to be human.  You create within yourself an understanding that you may make an error, but you will not be destroyed by that error.  When you feel that urge to pull back, you push forward, you remind yourself that you are making the best decision you can make at that moment and you will move forward positively from that point.  You know you are going to make a mistake, so what?  Coaches make mistakes, players make mistakes.  The successful ones go on.  As a referee, you must go on as well.  But, don’t forget that you have given yourself the freedom to be human, and not permission to be lazy.  Make the best decision you can.  Work hard to not be subject to error.

Accept that you are on the field precisely because some decisions will be unpopular and difficult.  Then work on making your FRIENDS proud of you.  How?  First of all, recognize that you are not on the field to be anyone’s friend.  Second, recognize that the players, coaches, and fans are not there to be your friend.  What the players and coaches want is a referee who consistently and accurately applies the laws of the game, not a buddy.  If you are lucky, you have assistant referees. They are your friends.  If you are really lucky, you are being assessed.  The assessor is your best friend.  Don’t worry about whether the players or coaches like your decisions.  Worry about making your assistants or assessor proud of you.  If you have no friends at the game, imagine you are being watched by a referee you truly admire and respect.  Make them proud. 

Stay FOCUSED.  Remember you are on the field to enforce the laws of the game and not to defend your ego or sense of self.  Treat the players with compassion and understanding.  You must be able to recognize that not all emotional outbursts directed toward you are dissent.  Review, quickly, in your mind the events immediately before the outburst.  Was there an error on the player’s part or your part?  If you overreact, friction is created between you and the players and generates more frustration.  Once the cycle begins, it is almost impossible to stop.  Soon, needless cards are issued and the game suffers.  Unless that player, coach, or fan is truly inhibiting your ability to perform, bringing discredit on the game, or disrupting performance on the field, let it go – but not repetitively.

Be FORTHRIGHT with yourself, but don’t abuse yourself.  Make the best decisions you can but be honest with yourself.  Accept that you will make mistakes but that you are the final authority.  Make yourself as aware of the laws of the game as you can be. Read the Laws of the Game.  There are 17 laws.  If you read one per week, you will read all the laws 3 times a year and still have a week off.  Read the Advice to Referees.  Attend training whenever possible.  Talk to other referees.  Get feedback from assessors and mentors.  When you fail, don’t quit.  Review what you did wrong and determine what you should have done different.  Go do another game and succeed.


There you have it, my conception of the 4 barriers to confident refereeing.  Think about them and modify them to your tastes.  The absolute best defense against emotional collapse is awareness and preparedness.  You know you can make a mistake, you know you need affirmation; you know players will become frustrated, you know you will fail.  In this case knowledge is power in that you can take action to curtail the impact of each of the roadblocks to your confident performance on the field.

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