Monday, May 2, 2011

I Dunno ...

For those who have been following me for a time, you will recognize that I often reflect on scenarios that happen to me when coaching Jr.'s soccer team. Recently we spoke about advantage and injuries in "Stop, Drop, and Roll."

Today's installment involves cautions, and making sure to get something for them.

First, some history:
As some may know, the modern day misconducts were created by Ken Aston. As the story goes slowing and stopping at a traffic light, Mr. Aston created the modern day caution and send off misconducts, a scheme that was first introduced in the 1970 World Cup. For a nice article on the topic, take a look here.

Now our scenario:
During Jr.'s match a player on Jr.'s team committed (in my opinion) a foul. As a result, both players went down in a lump as the opponent was hurt. Kudos to the referee for stopping the match right away to attend to the injury.

After attending to the player, the referee called the player who committed the foul over and seemed to have a word with him, took out his book, and wrote something down. Okay ... that was weird. Maybe the referee was recording the injury.

After this players shift I sat with him on the bench and asked a couple of questions. Here they are with the responses ... keep in mind this is a very young player.

PK: Looks like you got tangled pretty good with that player. Everyone OK?
Teammate of Jr.'s: Yeah, I guess I kicked him in the back of the leg. He's OK.

PK: Did you mean to?
Teammate of Jr.'s: No! (a little shocked) It was an accident.

PK: Did the referee show you a yellow card?
Teammate of Jr.'s: Yes. I dunno why though. He didn't really say.

Friends, foul aside, and wisdom of cautioning a very young player aside (they deserve it sometimes), what concerns me is not even the player receiving the caution themselves knew what was going on.

A caution is a signal that a referee is nearly out of options on how to control a player or the match. Conservation of such punitive actions are hallmarks of exceptional management. That said, there are times that you just have to give the caution. Sometimes the LOTG mandates the misconduct, sometimes THE game needs one to "slow things down" as Ken Aston discovered slowing down for a traffic light.

When a referee gives that caution however, they should be seeking a quid pro quo, and getting something tangible back for showing the caution. It should be a sign to all that the conduct the player demonstrated is not acceptable and will not be tolerated in this match. This should be made clear to the player who committed the act as well as everyone else to the EVERYONE know this was over "the line."

Sometimes we will see referees providing some theater to make the point by pointing to several points of the field to indicate a persistent infringement caution, or maybe placing their hand over their mouth for dissent. All of this acting is to let not just the offending player know, but all players in the park, and for that matter everyone watching, no more of that!

Once everyone is on notice, it becomes much easier to take additional actions if another player performs the same act, or the same player persists.

If the player who received the caution does not know what it is for, how can we expect to get the right reaction from the players to stop that type of behavior?

We all know the answer. We can't.

When you caution, get something for it, and make sure everyone, EVERYONE, knows it happened, and the behavior is not acceptable.

With that, you get something back for your effort.

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