Monday, July 2, 2012

More on Key Findings from USASA tournament

In a recent post, I gave several bullet points that were the key findings and observations from a recent high level amateur tournament.  (See Kicking Back, June 25, 2012)  Here is a broader explanation of some of these points and more importantly, what the assembled assessors were looking for:

  • Overall read of the game was lacking - Referees were struggling with anticipating the play and what was going to happen next.  This effected everything from their positioning to what fouls were called to the ability to deal with more serious incidents as they occurred.  If referees could not anticipate the play, they were often left playing catch-up in their managing the game.  They were reacting to things instead of preventing them.
  • No urgency in movement and action when the game required, and an inability to read the warning signs and lend a presence to the situation - Somewhat related to the above, but specific to the more serious incidents that needed attention, referees were not showing the ability to 'smell out' and get to the spot of trouble.  Ideally the referee anticipates when the problems may occur and gets there ahead of time, but in these games some referees were not even recognizing the problems after they happened!
  • Effort level and an inability to sprint as needed for 90 minutes - To be clear, referees do not need to sprint for 90 minutes.  But they do need to be able to sprint in the 90th minute!  Climate did not play a part, as the temperature was low 70s.  It is also worth noting that no referee worked more than two games on each day, and had plenty of rest time in between assignments. 
  • Dealing with serious challenges the first time they occur - Referees were often seeing serious challenges and allowing them to go unchecked.  Players became emboldened and the level of violence often escalated and/or retaliation was seen.  This left referees having to pull a game back under their control, and few were capable of doing so once the horse had left the barn.
  • The referee's personality (response) often did not match the situation, and/or referee's body language sent the wrong message - Referees need to think more about the messages they send with facial expressions, arm position, posture, even tone of voice.  Referees were often seen to be issuing serious warnings with smiles on their faces, or scowling at players when only a gentle prodding was needed.  (The suggestion was made to have a friend video-tape a referee in action.)
  • Foul recognition and foul selection was below par - This was most surprising given the experience of the referees at this event, but there was a lot of unevenness to what was called and what was let go, even within the same game.  Where this most became an issue was in games involving teams of totally different styles and sizes, such as a predominantly African team playing a team comprised of Northern Europeans.  Referees struggled to recognize the tactics and reach an acceptable level of foul recognition.  
Granted the standards were high for this event, but these are the expectations for referees wishing to work in the professional leagues.  In a future post I will discuss some of the suggestions for fixing these problems.


  1. Peter - thank you for sharing this information. It is very useful to see the patterns that are being observed among high level referees at amateur events!

  2. Most welcome Ian.

    All kudos belong to JAFO and this info, and I will be sure to pass them on.