This document is to serve as a basic guideline for mentoring referees and is in no way affiliated with any mentoring program developed by US Soccer/USSF. This can be applied to all levels of referees, but is best suited for new referees (youth and adult). The goal of any mentor program should be to develop and grow, with a special focus on increasing retention rates (number of referees who recertify).
Mentoring is a relationship, built on trust and designed to improve both individuals. A referee mentor does not have to be an expert; in fact, often time both the mentor and mentee learn throughout the process. In the state of NM we are facing a shortage of qualified referees and mentoring can impact that in a positive way. Communication, development, training sessions and support will encourage referees to recertify every year. A larger pool of experienced referees will create a better environment for soccer development in the state and more enjoyment for all.
It is vital to "check-in" with referees soon after they are registered. This can be achieved through an email, phone call or seeing them at the fields. Common questions that come up in the first few weeks are how to get games, what uniforms to buy and technical questions. If we can address these questions early, retention will increase. Continual communication is important, as well, for announcements, updates and training events. If you do not have a system in place to email the referees you may have them sign up for the statewide email newsletter by clicking here.
A new referee presentation is available here.
Development and Training
Support for referees of all experience levels is critical for success. Training and development provides this support and is a vital element of a mentoring program. Training can vary from one-on-one discussions, to a large group of referees in a formal setting. I suggest attempting several different techniques to see what best serves your area. Training can be based on US Soccer's Week in Review articles or issues that come up in the local league. Discussion can center around a game being watched live, with a mentor leading (game of the week). Much success has been had in hosting an "academy" for training during a popular tournament. Referees can also be sent from one area to participate in another training program (e.g., Gallup referees travel to Albuquerque for a tournament).
If you run out of ideas or want more information, you can reach out to Kris.
The State Referee Committee is there to help, with resources and funding when possible. The only way to get the help is to ask! There are a host of documents and resources on the web, especially through US Soccer. See this page for several helpful links. I am also working on compiling local video clips with a brief training document on this blog.
Developing a mentoring program is not an easy task, but the end result is rewarding. Create a plan, ask for advice and then implement. Make sure to test it out for at least a season (or more) before giving up on it; success can be slow. If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact your SYRA (right now, that's me).