One of my favorite songs is the Byrds’ hit from 1965, “Turn, Turn, Turn,” as there is a time and a season for everything. This is the time for no soccer but let’s hope that life can return to normal soon.
During this down time, here are some steps to become a better ref so that you’ll be ready whenever games are resumed:
Read the rulebook
It will take you just a few hours to read the entire rulebook. Pay special attention to the recent rule changes, most of which I wrote about in a recent article. Even me with a lot of experience, when I read the rulebook, I uncover a couple of items that I did not know before.
Mike Woitalla has advocated in his articles that U.S. Soccer give refs the rulebook again when they recertify and I received my copy when I recertified a couple of weeks before Christmas. Other recertifying refs did not receive the rulebook, though. It’s the least that US Soccer could do for its refs. And it’s so much easier to thumb through the rulebook at halftime or in-between games then to try and find the rule in question on your phone or tablet. Please put in the comments below whether you received the rulebook when you recently recertified.
The weather is becoming warmer and running is a great way to become a better ref, with what should be little risk of receiving any communicable disease. Yet be sure to follow any current local rules regarding outdoor exercise. (Do not leave your home to exercise without confirming public health orders and public health recommendations.) Running is also a source of positive energy, which the world could surely use right now.
The fartlek training method works best for me, as it mimics a soccer game. Rather than just jogging, you jog, sprint, jog, with an all-out sprint at the end. If you are currently out of shape, start slowly and gradually work up to a mile. As officials need to run backward and sidestep during the course of a match, try to incorporate both of these moves in your training.
Many of the FIFA11+ Referee exercises don't require much space and can be done indoors.
Ref games that you watch on TV
Watching taped games is weird at first there is no social distancing and I see people shaking hands. After I got past that, I “refereed” the game in my mind plus watched the positioning and signals of the officials. Sometimes, the instant replay confirms that I was correct and sometimes not so much. I listen to what the commentators say about the officiating but realize that they are not experts as many never officiated a game in their lives or even opened up a rulebook.
Adjust your attitude
It’s been said that you don’t realize how much you miss something until it is gone.
Could be although I immediately knew that I’d miss refereeing when all my upcoming games were canceled and I really do. The two dreams that I remembered during the past few weeks have both been about officiating. So now that refereeing has been taken away from me, and all other refs, I miss seeing my friends on soccer fields, running up and down the field and interacting with everybody as I control the game.
So when play does resume, I’m going to have a couple of games where I’m not enjoying myself and would like them to end. One thing that I will remember when this does occur (and it eventually will!) is how much I missed refereeing when I could not do it and fight through any negative reactions about the games in question to calmly control what’s going on the field, as well as dissent from the bench.