Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Week in Review

If you haven't done so already please read the MLS Week in Review for Week 35. It's really important to keep up with the information US Soccer puts out there for two reasons. One, its going to make your games go more smoothly. Two, when you go to out of state tournaments or even get assessed here you'll be expected to be aware of the policies US Soccer has put forth.

This WIR was a good one since it touched on some subjects we talk about quite often:
  • Offside Position... but is it punishable? The merit of waiting to see what's going to happen pays off in the clip. This lesson is not just applicable to MLS matches! This is something we can and should be practicing on a weekly basis. Remember the only time you want a quick(er) flag is when there is a good chance there will be contact between an attacker and the goalkeeper.
  • Hey Ref! Handball! Well, I guess I should handling. But you never hear someone shout the correct terms. In the clip we see how players can be very coy in their handling. Funny that the same topic that will spur a 25-minute near shouting match at the yearly clinic is also a point of discussion at the professional level. Some things never change, I suppose.
  • 100% Misconduct. In the early days MLS was criticized for being overly aggressive. Referees probably would've been nervous to give a caution within the first five minutes of the game. Oh, how things have changed! So take note of the fact that the time on the clock has no bearing on whether or not you punish misconduct. Deal with it; because you don't want to see more of that later in the game, right?

One of the things I enjoy about the Week in Review is the addition of videos. Experience comes from seeing something over and over again, so that we can instantly recognize something and deal with it. Although not quite the same as being there, watching these videos is definitely a good thing.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fitness: Got it? Don't lose it!

The season is officially over for most of us. The final, last minute make-up games are completed and we've probably all put our gear away for the winter. You deserve some time off after some of us averaged over 70 games for the fall season (some of us, more). But don't kick your feet up just yet.

Think about the beginning of the season... were you sore and tired? Now be honest with yourself: Do you think you were in the best shape? Or did you have to cut a few corners on several games until your legs were back under you? We all have the tendency to get lazy during the off-season which only makes it harder to get back into shape. So instead of hurting for the first two weekends of the season try adding a little fitness to your winter routine to keep what you've worked hard for during the fall.

It only takes a little bit of effort to at least maintain the fitness level you had during the peak of the season. Taking time to workout three or more days a week will mean that you are all ready to go when the season gets started in February (or earlier if you travel to other tournaments). Try a few of these things to have a successful training regiment:

  • Make it fun. If running 3 miles doesn't appeal to you then don't make it your everyday workout. Instead try doing something you enjoy like swimming, skiing, cycling or taking a brisk hike. Incorporate your workout into a group activity so you are more motivated to stick to your plan.
  • Prevent injuries. Staying in shape will help you prevent injuries at the beginning of the season but if you're not careful your training could cause an injury. With colder temperatures around its critical that you warm-up properly. Frank Serianni recommends this great article for tips on how to keep your muscles limber.
  • Make a plan, stick to it. Setting goals for yourself throughout the off-season will focus your effort and make you more likely to stick to your plan. Training for a specific event, like a road race, will give your work a purpose. There are some great websites out there that will give you events locally that you can participate in.
Overall just try to keep your feet moving one way or another during these winter months. If you know of other soccer referees in your area get together and make a training plan. I know that it is much easier for me to workout in a group. Plus, they can bug you to come on out when you feel like staying inside. This downtime is also a great time to brush up on your knowledge of the Laws of the Game or catch up on old Week in Review articles on US Soccer.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Photo from Development Academy

from L to R: Jair Marrufo (TX), Orion, Ben Warren (OR), Baldomero Toledo (CA), Ricardo Salazar (IL, now CA). Jair is on the list of 38 remaining candidates to officiate in the World Cup in 2010, and Baldomero refereed the MLS final.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Check this video out!

Here's the video from the USA vs Brazil game I did this weekend. Click here to watch. Make sure you have selected the DA Ref Spotlight on the righthand side and then hit play.


Development Academy - Winter Showcase 2008

Nothing quite like some good soccer in December and no, I'm not talking about those ASL make-up games.  

Orion and I are blogging this from the Burbank Airport in California on our way back from a long weekend of games.  We both enjoyed ourselves and got to learn a lot with some of the best referees in the USA.  There was a lot of driving done as we flew into Burbank, the hotel was 40 miles away in Valencia and the fields were 50 miles from the hotel in Lancaster, CA.  Whew... One nice thing was our hotel accommodations: 

The long weekend started with an evening meeting.  There were a lot of "big names" in the room; Brian Hall, all four of our professional referees, Kleinaitis, Tamberino and many others.  The meeting ended with Brian Hall giving a great presentation on "Referee Best Practices". This touched on ensuring the safety of the players while maximizing playing time and the entertainment value for the fans through risk taking and flow.  

The next morning started early with several matches.  In between games we had a nice area to relax, eat and even watch games that were playing on the various big screens.  I took advantage of the great minds at hand and picked the brains of a lot of referees.  Seeing all the different management styles and techniques really helps with my own style.  The atmosphere was much more casual than, say, youth regionals.  However, the games tended to be much higher quality and demanded your complete attention and effort.  

Today (Monday) was the most difficult day.  We had a meeting last night which ran kind of late and games started at 8:00 o'clock this morning.  Most people had three games and I was no exception.  All three were back to back with a U-18 center at the end.  I made it through it without incident and Orion and I made it to the airport in plenty of time for the plane.  

For me the best part of the trip was the interaction with other referees and assessors.  Although everyone gave a lot of feedback it was always geared towards making you better, not just ripping you to shreds.  I got to be assessed by Terry Vaughn and Dave McKee, both great people to talk about your game with.  But most importantly it was just fun to travel and see some amazing soccer firsthand.   

Orion's Report:

This has been quite an exciting weekend of soccer!  I was very happy with my assignments, and felt that I had a very good performance overall.  Some of the higher points for me over the weekend were being assessed by Scott Weyland, a former FIFA assistant referee, and refereeing the U-18 match between FC Dallas and Nomads who tied 3-3.  By far the most exciting match however was the international friendly between the U-17 U.S. National Team vs. Brazil, which I was selected to AR.  The match was televised live on Fox Soccer Channel.  The atmosphere was amazing as the field was lined with fans with TV cameras and microphones surrounding the field.  The game was centered by Jason Anno from South Texas, who handled the intense match like a pro.  Brazil won 2-1 in the most exciting game of my career thus far.  

The past few days has also been a great chance to catch up with some old friends from around the country.  This was my second Showcase and it was by far the best.