Players and coaches expect and deserve three things from referees:
We'll discuss all three in separate articles. First up...
Knowledge of the Laws of the Game should be a given. How can you enforce something you don't know?
The thing is, all you need to do to become a certified referee - and stay certified - is take a clinic and make a 75 on the test. But that doesn't mean you know the Laws.
Two points here:
First, making a good test score only means you know how to take a test. Anyone who knows how to take tests can pass an objective test (like the USSF referee tests) without knowing the material. (I once passed a TF test with an 80... and there were no questions!)
Second, there is more to knowing the Laws of the Game than can possibly be learned in a clinic, whether it's the sixteen hours Entry or the five hours Recertification. The Laws are purposely short.
Purposely short because the International Board wants the referee to have and apply a large measure of discretion during a match. To give the referee that discretion, the Laws are explained in summary form. Details are learned by doing, watching, talking, reading and critiquing.
Doing games helps a referee learn the context of the Laws. Being told in class what a trip is - even with those excellent visuals - isn't as good as seeing a trip live and up close. This is one reason players have an early advantage over non-players; they've experienced trips and know what they are.
But non-players can learn quickly. One easy way is watching other referees. See what they call and don't, and see how the players react to the "foul" and the referee's handling of it. You can do this in person or through television, just as long as you don't try to copy what you see. Learn from it and use what seems to make sense and what seems to fit you.
Talking about game situations is a referee's second favorite pastime. And it is a good learning tool. If you're watching a game in person, talk with the referee afterward. Ask what s/he saw and why s/he called it that way. Don't be critical, just listen. Even better, watch a game with several other referees and discuss what you're seeing. Or come the BASRA meetings and talk with the other referees about last week's games. Again, don't copy, learn and use.
Reading presents lots of opportunities to learn the details of the Laws and how to apply them. USSF has an Advice to Referees that should be a must read. FIFA has a Questions and Answers. Both issue periodic memos to clarify specific issues. There are Web sites like Jim Allen's or SocRef-L. And don't forget books on refereeing. Two which are highly recommended are Fair or Foul by Paul and Larry Harris and For the Good of the Game by Bob Evans and Ed Bellion.
Critiquing, or more specifically, being critiqued is necessary to prevent reinforcing bad habits. Ask an experienced referee to watch you and offer tips. Request an assessment, whether it's developmental or full. Note that these are critiques, not criticisms; they should point out the good and the bad, so you can build on the former and fix the latter.
Oh, one other thing... Just because you passed your last test with a 100, don't think your knowledge of the Laws is complete. It's an old saying, but very true: Knowledge isn't a destination, it's a journey.
Take the trip.
It's what the players and coaches expect and deserve.
Next: Part 2 - Impartiality
(If you wish to comment on this article, send a message to email@example.com.)
[Return to BASRA Homepage]
[News] [Minutes] [Clinics] [Tournaments] [Links] [Maps to Fields]
[Handbook] [Constitution] [By Laws] [Contacts]