Soccer Coaching Blog | Professional Soccer Coaching Advice

Why I hate being the linesman

davidscwnewIt’s rarely regarded as the most popular of gifts when you have to hand the linesman’s flag to one of the parents of your team.

You might, like me, have also found it strange how mobile phones start apparently ringing, pulled muscles come into the conversation and urgent dog walking needs to be taken care of… any excuse so as not to have to run the line!

As coach of the team, I haven’t had to run the line for a couple of years… that was, until this week, when I’d gone to watch one of my boys play. Over came the coach, and before I knew it, I was the one preparing to stand up to the shouting and ridicule!

So off I went tripping over the siblings sat too close to the pitch whilst trying to avoid the potholed parts of the touchline.

The referee was chairman of the club and pretty well qualified, with 15 years’ experience as the man in black. But twice in the first 10 minutes I raised the flag and wasn’t spotted. On the third occasion, I stood waving away trying to get the attention of the referee to a chorus of “you must be joking!” from opposition players and parents alike.

“Does he know you’re there?” quipped one of comedians. Up my arm went again as the opposition started another attack. “NEVER!” shouted their manager who was standing half way down the pitch obviously in a better position than myself. I wondered why I was bothering!

During an attack in the second half the ball was put in the net by a boy clearly standing in an offside position. “I’ve given it,” shouted the referee to much cheering from the opposition players and parents.

I asked him if he’d again failed to spot my flag waving. “Look,” he said, “I’ve given it; you were too slow.”

“Too slow?! I am not a professional linesman,” I was about to say – but the moment was gone and I still had a job to do… not that I was enjoying it much!Needless to say I was glad when the final whistle blew and I could give the flag back to the referee.

“Thanks”, he said, with a smile.

In fact that was the only thing that prevented this from being a completely thankless task.

The point of all this – youth soccer coaching may come with many pitfalls and frustrations, but the rewards are plentiful, and real, and when you do things correctly, it really does get noticed.

There are many worse roles in soccer – running the line being one of them!

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3 Comments so far
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I agree, Dave! I was subject to some terrible abuse from opposition parents and even players earlier in the season…they were U14’s! Sarcasm, swearing – the coach didn’t join in, but did nothing to dissuade them. Parents and players don’t understand the rules and show a complete lack of respect to someone who’s just trying to help have a “fair” game of football. A parent confronted me at half-time in front of our team who was running the other side! Hardly in a position to tell what was offside and what wasn’t. The referee had no control and the game descended into anarchy with parents squaring up to each other after the game. It could all be avoided with a stronger coach, telling everyone associated with his team it’s unacceptable and substituting those players found guilty of abusing “officials”.

Comment by Martin Upson

I didn’t mention the best one…two of the opposition clean through on our keeper. Keeper rushes out and the player passes the ball diagonally forward to his team-mate who’s is in advance of him. I raise the flag to disallow the goal.- a clear offside. Four parents pursue me down the touchline!

Comment by Martin Upson

I feel for Martin Upson. I was volunteered for our U12’s state cup match as one of the linesman didn’t show up. We would’ve advanced to the finals if we won this game. The game was tied 1-1 and our forward dribbled through as the goalie came out. All he had to do was tap the ball in but instead, passed diagonally to a team-mate also ahead. I had to raise up my flag and the ref disallowed the goal. It was the right call but did I get a lot of good natured ribbing from our parents & coaches. If it was the other way around, it could’ve gotten ugly.

Comment by Alan Khoo

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