Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice


The right response to an under pressure referee

David Clarke

Reacting to the decisions of officials is a very challenging aspect of being a coach, and a tricky thing in terms of making sure your players develop their game in the way that they should.
We came up against a team earlier on in the season who claimed for everything, even throw-ins that were obviously not theirs! But coupled with the pressure applied by a band of vocal parents as well, this had an effect on the referee who, in reacting to the side constantly appealing for decisions, gave the team the benefit of the doubt in almost every 50/50 situation.
That’s not something that you want – nor expect to see – at this level, but it was evidence enough that it happens. Certainly, I would never recommend my players to constantly appeal for decisions – it’s not the brand of football I want them to learn. After half-time though, I did recommend they were more vocal when they were sure that possession was theirs, be that from a ball going out of play or an obvious free-kick situation.
Otherwise, by accepting that the other team was ‘better’ than we were at claiming a corner, for example, we were giving up a good deal of possession. When you play teams like this where the opposition players and parents put pressure on the referee, it can be very daunting for your team. You will probably find that your own players’ parents begin shouting opinions from the touchline, and the match can descend into something of a farce.
The best solution is to talk to the parents of your players and explain that, as a team, we have to get used to coming up against opponents who try to bend the rules. Point out that we want the lads to learn the game in a respectful way, and always retain hope that the referee will begin to see a pattern emerging in the game and will get smart to the barrage of appeals.
If he sees the opposition calling for everything but then realises your players are only reacting when they know it is their ball, he will respond accordingly, and your players will get their fair share of the ball having gone about it the right way.

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3 Comments so far
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Brilliant article. I’ve come across this problem as a independent spectator, as a linesman, as a referee and as a coach. The best thing I find to do in all cases is to have a quiet word with my team or both sets of parents to put a stop to it. It’s kids football, nobody wants to see if descend into a full blown argument between two sets of parents, while the kids sit there gobsmacked of what is happening around them!

Comment by theblokeintheblack

Very interesting take on this. I am conflicted, as I have always told my players not to initiate conversation with officials unless it was extreme circumstance. You’re making me reconsider this! I always felt it was most respectful to just accept the decisions, to wait for them, even, but it’s tough, when the opposition lays claim to every call, right?

Comment by coachdaddy

I would discuss with my team any bad,unsportsmanlike behavior by an opposing team at halftime,and I tell them not to respond to it in any way, because doing so takes their focus away from defending and scoring and other aspects of proper play. After the game I would discuss the opposing teams behavior with the proper league officials. I have done this in the past and have been very satisfied with subsequent actions of the league officials. Responding during a game to bad behavior can lead to the game falling apart. It has happened more than once.

Comment by rick sewall




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