Thursday, June 24, 2010

Just one thought ... KISS

So the USA v. ALG match is in the books and the tournament moves on. (Report here) Our summa rudis,  De Bleeckere, I personally though did very well. He was clearly able to stitch together the fabric of a very exciting match. While there may have been a couple of stitches out of place, as a whole, he produced a beautiful tapestry.

How did he do that?
I have an opinion ... the KISS principle.
Which stands for: Keep It Simple Stupid.

I would opine that one way to control a match is to work on the simple fouls first. No crazy advantages, no stretching the laws in early stages of the match. Just some plain-jane, run of the mill fouls. Get yourself in a groove, get the players into a groove. You are there, they are there, everyone is getting along, no problem.

This very much goes for ARs as well. It is always great to get a couple of out of bounds and an offiside decision under your belt early to get you "into" the match, and lets players know that you are there and are with them. Now, this is not an excuse to invent something just to get attention as a referee. It has to be there, and be real. Your credibility will plummet otherwise, so don't play make-believe ever with a decision on the pitch.

Think about it like climbing a mountain. You start at the bottom, its flat, easy terrain. Everyone is just getting started and wants to stretch their legs a bit and work on setting a pace. From there you go up a level in difficultly. Things get a little harder, and maybe a little faster. You may stop at a point to catch your breath, and take a rest, not for you, but to give others a break. Eventually to succeed you will be on a gradual pace up, but only as fast as the slowest climber, because after all you must do it as a team.

Same is true in refereeing. Start slow, let players and your refereeing team acclimatize to their surroundings. Simple fouls at first and work your way up. If players are concerned or do not feel secure in what is going on, take a few steps back and evaluate. If players are frustrated and want to climb higher and play more, you should let them, as they dictate the level of play.

When you climb a mountain you don't start at the top and run down, you have to start slow and move up. Now don't be fooled, sometimes it turns into a sprint up to the top, and if the players are up to it, you should be accommodating so long as they are climbing safely. If they are not, slow them down just enough to make the point that having everyone be secure and go from there.

De Bleeckere did this during this match, he started simple, got everyone in a grove and used only enough force  necessary to control the situation. This gave him options later down the road as he need them to control the match. Note the progression used in these cases.

Whistle ==> Quiet Word ==> Public Admonishment ==> Caution ==> Stern Word ==> Send Off

He managed the players and took them up one step at a time allowing them to dictate the match, until it was too much for the rest. They then rested for a minute (with a word, or a caution), and they went from there. It is clear that things will get elevated in a match, that is the nature of sport. To do so in a step by step fashion, in a controlled fashion and starting with simple fouls may be one of the best ways to get to the top.

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