US Soccer has put out the Week in Review for Week 18, which you can read here. There was a section on there that reminded me of a discussion had at the Annual Clinic this past weekend.
The article centers around three classifications of fouls: Careless, Reckless and Excessive Force. We should all be familiar with what these teams mean and the criteria used to decide if a foul is careless, reckless or used excessive force. But we need to do more than just understand the criteria.
You start by understanding these terms, watching video or live games to get a "feel" for what separates the categories and then practice on the pitch. But when you're in the game, three more things come into play: feel for the game, proper positioning and seeking assistance.
Feel for the game is tough to learn right away. It comes from experience, both as a referee and at that level of game. Proper positioning is also not something you can do overnight. You have to work on fitness, have experience to read the game/players and, quite frankly, sometimes you just have to be lucky. The final piece of the puzzle is quick to implement, though: Seeking assistance.
The referee crew has to work together on classifying a foul. Soccer is a game of angles, so what you see might be completely different from what your AR saw. Sometimes you have to get a card out quickly for game control, yes, but you still need to make eye contact with your AR beforehand. Giving a yellow card (or no card) when it is clearly a send-off could be considered missing a game critical incident.
I know that I've had to work on making eye contact before pulling the card out quickly. Also, as an AR we need to work on ensuring our feedback gets to the referee. Even if they decide to ignore us, we must make sure they understand that we are asking for misconduct.