Monday, June 25, 2012

Key Findings from Regional Amateur tournament

The following were some key findings and observations from inspectors and assessors at last week's USASA Region 1 Championships.  This tournament featured a very select group of 20 top-level referees in the Northeast US, all grade 5 or above.  The observations were made by no fewer than eight high level Inspectors and National Assessors sent by the Federation, including Brian Hall from CONCACAF.  There was no debating the credentials of the observers or the validity of their comments!  Some of the findings are sobering considering the assembled officiating talent.

  • Crews felt empowered by referee
  • Good communication from referee to ARs
  • Overall focus and quality of ARs was good
  • Referees were following USSF directives

Things to work on:
  • Overall read of the game was lacking
  • 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  
  • Effort level and an inability to sprint as needed for 90 minutes 
  • Dealing with serious challenges the first time they occur
  • The referee's personality (response) often did not match the situation, and/or the referee's body language sent the wrong message
  • Foul recognition and foul selection was below par

Action plan for all referees:
  • Improve yourself by searching out more matches
  • Watch more matches to see what top referees are doing
  • Professionalism – always be prepared!

What is significant about these findings is that they were universally shared by all of the observers.  In most cases, there is some disagreement even among experts as to the relative strengths and weaknesses of any individual referee or group of referees, but at this tournament the consensus was entirely unanimous.  Obviously we have some things to work on at the higher levels if our amateur referees desire to turn pro.

I will talk more about some of these specific bullet points in a future post.


  1. I couldn't help but see that all (some more directly than others) 6 of the things to work on
    have to deal with fouls..and the lack of seeing where each falls in the seriosness-spectrum: reading the game (how are both teams playing);
    presence (some fouls NEED your presence quickly); effort & sprinting (you can't be present at the right time,right place unless you can sprint when necessary); First time bad fouls (recognition?);Response to player's actions (verbal,whistle,body); Foul Recognition (where on the serious-spectrum is it? Trival,Acceptable,Hard,Violent)

    I am not saying foul and non-foul recognition is everything (spot on with game and competition rules, personality, passion for the game and respect for the game and players go along way) BUT foul recognition skill is the core IMHO upon which all these other skills grow from. Thanks for the excellent blog.

  2. Anon,

    Thanks for the comment.

    I think your reading of these points is spot on. One twist I had was the fitness played a factor in not being able to sprint for 90 minutes. While I agree that it falls into the foul bucket, I think it gets there via a lack of fitness. All the others, yep, foul recognition ... or more importantly ... fingerspitzengefuhl.

    Glad you like the blog ... kudos to JAFO for the individual post. Just wait for the follow up in early July!

    Thanks for reading,