Monday, September 14, 2009

Week in Review 25

Another WIR is available for your viewing pleasure on US Soccer's website. Make sure to read it and watch the video clips.

US Soccer has begun moving away from the term "Risk Taking" in their game management model. This week they show the altered model and discuss why they are changing the term to Foul Selection/Recognition. I think this is a good move on their part as the new term is more familiar to referees and less confusing. The overall idea, however, remains the same: What fouls you decide to call and when, due to the circumstances of the match.

The latter part of the WIR deals with some recent MLS games where red cards were given that weren't justified. This is an important discussion because we often discuss what IS a yellow card or a red card but forget to mention what IS NOT misconduct. As referees we have to work to set a "bar" for what consitutes a caution or send-off at that level of play. This is a fluid concept that we must always adjust as we progress in the level of games that we do. Even more difficult is the fact that we probably do different levels of games throughout the week and in some situations apply different criteria depending on the match.

How do we develop this standard? How do we avoid giving an unwarranted send-off? First, you must study the Laws of the Game, WIR, USSF Memos and other referees. Understand, for example, the 4 D's of denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. Watch video clips to learn what to look for in a Serious Foul Play tackle. Don't be scared to give the card when needed but understand the serverity of your decision, too. But one of the best things you can do is learn from your peers.

Let's say that you have not done any Men's 1st Division centers yet but you (and your assignor) feel that you are just about ready to start. Go and watch a few of these games to get a feel for the speed and intensity of play. Watch how players react to the fouls called (and not called) and pay attention to any misconduct that results. Get on a few games as an AR and talk with the center to see what you need to watch for. This will help you start to develop a working foul recognition and tolerance for that level of play. You'll want to start out calling more fouls for control but will be able to slowly adapt as you are more comfortable with the level. Ask for feedback throughout this process from fellow referees. Also, gauge the player's reactions as you adapt.

Since you have set the bar for misconduct you can act quickly when the situation presents itself with as little emotion as possible. So maybe you'll see a situation like we saw in this week's WIR and say to yourself "all the D's are not present" and keep the red card in your pocket.

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