Referee, Coach relationships

Discussion in 'Referee' started by SgtSlam, Jul 13, 2005.

  1. SgtSlam

    SgtSlam New Member

    Jun 20, 2005
    Having watched this forum for a short time, I thought I would describe an incident from a recent soccer tournament that I coached in, to see what you have to say. This happened about a little over month ago, but I think it is a good place to start to have a discussion with referees about coaches. In particular, how interactions can appear to coaches and actions by referees pre-game can have on the game. (Forgive the length if I am breaking some board rule)

    Over all it was a well-run tournament. Tournaments are always a lot of work and not everything can go well. My philosophy for coaches (at U-10) is that they need to go into them expecting thing to be a little bumpy and not everything is going to be perfect. In addition, coaches really need to understand tournaments are more about the growth of your team as a team then about wins and losses, particularly the U-10 and below.

    My only problem was the referee team in that last game. In 18 years of coaching, I have only experience two other times where I have had horrible refereeing and only one of those cases was what I would say approached the level of weirdness that I would say happened in this game.

    Before the game, the crew walked up, got under my awning that we set up back from the field (it was lightly raining), and said jokingly that they were going to ref from there. At this point, I was trying to get the boys to line up by them so that we could go through check in. The boys got a little upset when they were told, by the Center; they were only going to play 7-minute halves instead of the 12.5 (shortened halves due to rain soaked fields, decision by tournament director, normally 25 minute halves). I told the boys to knock it off and that it really did not matter. The referees and I continued to joke about the rain and the miserable conditions. I thought everything was going well.

    Shortly after the game got underway there was a shot on goal that the opposing teams keeper did a great job saving. The ball went over the goal line for what I thought was going to be a corner so I yelled to the boys to set up for a corner, as they had started of sluggishly due to the rainy conditions. When the center ref called for a goal kick, I said to my assistance that it should have been a corner. (I do this because one of my assistance is real old school (played for Costa Rica in the 50s and early 60’s) if I don’t tell him that I see what he is seeing he will start to get very vocal as the game goes on. My comments were not loud enough for the center referee to hear as he was all the way down by the goal.

    At this point, the assistant referee working the line in front of me says (what I thought he was jokingly saying) “Oh come on, you couldn’t see that from here.” So I think he is continuing his joking from before the game by the tone in his voice, so I say sure I can and furthermore I can even hear it from hear. At that point his attitude changed and he started yell at me, about how I was wrong. I did not want to get into it with him so I turned walked farther away.

    My team was not playing well so I started to yell out instructions to them which did included some negative comments about how some of them where sluggish. In 18 years of coaching, I have found that when coaching boys sometimes when their coach point out that they are not hustling that they will pick up their activity because they don’t want to be seen by the team as not working as hard as the rest of them. (Different from when I coach girls because it will back fire on you, and believe me girls and boys are different.)

    During the second half, the team started playing much better. The talk at half had the desired effect and they snapped out of their malaise. About half way through the second half, the one girl on my team had received a pass and was dribbling down the sideline directly in front of me. At the same time a boy from the other team was running along side her, but was clearly about to get beat by her speed. When a boy trailing the play said to his teammate, “Just push her down”. At this point, I could not believe what I had just heard. I at that split moment could not believe that a little 9 year old was telling his teammate to cheat and in particular do something that could injure another person. So I said out load, not really saying it to the boys, but more to myself, thought the boy was still in range when I said it, “Woe woe woe, Don’t be telling someone to cheat, and a specially to push someone down.” This was my mistake, broke my major rule about talking to a player from another team during a game.

    At this point, the assistant referee turns to me from about 10 yards away and says knock off the comments. I say to him, still in disbelief at what I had heard, did you hear what he just said. He said yes and that it was not that bad. Now I could not believe that someone who’s job it is to protect the players would say something this silly, so commented back that I did think it was out of line what the boy had said. At this point he starts screaming at the center referee to “come over and talk to this coach as he has been negative all game long” I’m like wow where did that come from. The center comes over to me and says to stop being negative. I asked what rule says I am not allowed to be negative (again my mistake, but was shocked by what was going on) and was he going to do something about the boy who had said to push a player down”. By this time, the other coach has gone out onto the field and has gathered his team to talk to them. The referee asks me who said the comment, at this point I am think this is crazy, these referees are way out of line and so I said “I did not know his number”. I just wanted the game to get back underway.

    Just as the other team moves back into position my assistant, who thought that I really did not know the boys number, point to the boy and said to me “that’s the one” and as I say back to him quietly, “I know” the assistant again tells me “Coach shut up”. At this point, I just ignore his comment and tell my assistant to be quite for the remainder of the game, as I just wanted it to be over.

    In addition, for most of the weekend, the assistant referee on my side and I would talk and have a good time (my god it is only U-10).

    A little bit of background, I have played since I was 6, coached for over 18 years and was a referee (only grade 8) for a few years so I have seen all sides.

    I know that I made some errors in judgment during the affair, but I think that sometimes referees should learn to ignore comments from coaches that are not directed at them and are not abusive to the players.

    Interested in your comments, as I really believe that it is in the best interest of the game for coaches and referees to get along and not to be so adversarial.
  2. brhsoccer14

    brhsoccer14 New Member

    Nov 18, 2004
    Baton Rouge, LA, USA
    From what it sounds like, it seemed you had some rogue referees. There is almost nothing I can tell you. You say you know what you did wrong and you knew what they did wrong from what you say. So the only things I can think of is that they had problems before this match with a U10 coach, or they didn't get teh assignment they wanted which is ridiculous if that is the case, or they are just mean and blind.

    Sorry I couldn't help you more.
  3. kevbrunton

    kevbrunton New Member

    Feb 27, 2001
    Edwardsburg, MI
    Chicago Fire
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I agree - sometimes as a referee you can talk yourself into a corner with a coach and sometimes as a coach you can create perceived problems without really meaning to. Here's some thoughts on the subject...

    This AR and crew may have reacted that way toward you due to what happened in the previous game or games or due to their mood (fatigue). If it was your last game, it may have been their last game too. Running a lot on sloggy fields is VERY tiring - so they're tired and less patient. If they had some issues in how they call the game, they may have spent the previous game getting reamed by that coach and so they are automatically more sensitive to any kind of remark and will take it as negative as possible instead of giving you the benefit of the doubt (on whether a comment is said in jest or in all seriousness).

    As a referee, my strong preference is to talk to people. In the center, it's with the players. On the touchline, its to the parents or the coaches. But I can sometimes create some grief for myself by doing that. I may explain something that seems fairly simple to me, but then they want to argue about it. Or something similar but not quite the same happens against the opponent and then they are riding you on why that was or wasn't called because to them it looked exactly the same.

    I haven't stopped talking because it winds up being positive way more often than it is negative.
  4. ref47

    ref47 Member

    Aug 13, 2004
    n. va
    we have arrived at a point in sports where everyone believes that the referees are not competent and favor the other team. given this state of affairs, referees have become sensitive to the continued criticism that comes their way. i try to ignore most of what eminates from the sidelines. but, almost all the authors advise the ref to listen because some of the info from the sidelines will be correct and need your attention.

    coach/ref relations need to be kept on a formal plain. be too informal and the perpensity to address all negative concerns to the ref is increased. and most of us do not take criticism kindly. it would be wonderful if coaches worried only about the big stuff. it doesn't really matter if the throwin at midfield goes to team a or team b. it's just to get the ball back on the field. if the coach limits interactions to the big stuff, coach's voice will not be a hinderance to communication but a meaningful input.

    and, yes, we all have bad days/games. and we all aren't collina. but keeping the sideline comments to a minimum and only addressing the big stuff will go a long way in helping the ref crew by not distracting them from mission.
  5. billf

    billf Member+

    May 22, 2001
    Philadelphia Union
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    It sounds like you cought this particular set of refs on a bad day. I think a combination of things caused this. First, referees take a lot of crap. At the younger ages the stuff they deal with is worse in some ways because the participants, coaches, spectators, and referees are less familiar with what is going on. Second, if this is the last game of a tournament where the weather has been bad you're getting cranky referees who have been out in bad weather for the last two or three days and are getting fed up with it. Third, fatigue is a factor. Teams may be asked to play four games over two days but referees often do 6-8 a day. Frankly, I feel that referees are abused by many assignors at tournaments and I do very few of them these days. I don't blame the assingors really, I put most of that on organizers who treat referees like equipment. Assignors would help though if they encouraged organizers to host smaller tournaments because there aren't enough referees. I have no idea why many referees put up with this but they do. At any rate, I know that I've been a much different person to deal with at the end of a typical youth tournament than I was at 8am on day one. At one late summer tournament a few years ago I cleared a whole sideline after just two comments that I normally would ignore and I feel this was because my patience was gone after two days in the heat. You just aren't in your right mind sometimes.

    My hope is that coaches and referees and club officials would go back to their clubs and both enter and host smaller tournaments. I don't think we need the kind of tounaments week in and week out that require 20+ fields hosting 6-8 games a day. Referees are at a premium for regular league games. At a tournament like that I know its worse. Its not good for anyone involved to have physically taxed referees doing 16 games a weekend. For me, if I get beyond three games in a day I'm a mess.
  6. GKbenji

    GKbenji Member+

    Jan 24, 2003
    Fort Collins CO
    Colorado Rapids
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I find the one thing in coach-referee communication that often breaks down, especially once the match has started, is joking. Your situation is a case in point: you thought the joking tone was continuing when you replied to the AR, he was serious, and now everything goes downhill. Once the game starts, everything is much more serious and the pre-game banter is forgotten.

    It works both ways. Although as a referee I do talk to players some, I have found that when I try to make a joke it backfires more often than not. So I have learned to use humor sparingly. Sometimes a well-timed crack can lighten tension and smooth things over, but only on rare occasions.

    And of course, as others have mentioned, if everyone is already tired and cranky sometimes it doesn't matter what you say. :(
  7. new old man

    new old man New Member

    Jun 7, 2003
    SW US
    I have a very different take on what happened, based solely on your description. You indicate:
    1. You yelled to your team to set up for a corner kick, while a GK was called, trying to take the call away from the ref?
    2. You continued to make comments, in order to keep your assistant calm (that was actually my favorite).
    3. You yelled negative things at your nine year olds.
    4. You addressed the nine year old from the other team about how to behave/ what was permissable.

    Quite frankly, you create the clear impression that you believe it is your game to direct, and not that of the players to enjoy. I have met your style of coach before, and my experience is that they do not step back to see what they are really doing and teaching by trying so hard to control the play of nine year olds. Try relaxing, and enjoy the game. I guarantee it will be more fun for everyone. Regards.
  8. Red Star

    Red Star Member

    Jan 10, 2002
    Fayetteville, AR
    I have found that the only humor that can work is self effacing humor that is not related to my performance as a referee. Laugh at myself when I fall or something else equally innocent. Maybe something that happens off the field (small dog or cute child activity) Otherwise it is better to just be businees like. Trying to be everybody's funny friend has never worked for me as a ref and as a player/coach it has never worked for the refs who tried it. I guess I am a serious type but I just don't want to give the wrong impression. Remember the players are taking it seriously you owe to them to demonstarte that you are too. I try to smile and show that I enjoy the game but that is not the same as joking around.
  9. Laggard

    Laggard New Member

    May 23, 2001
    Beeswax Noneofyour
    No, he actually thought it was going to be a corner and had his team get ready. Happens all the time.
    So what? I see this all the time. Nothing wrong in my eyes for a coach to tell a player that he may actually need to work a bit harder.
    Though he probably should have brought this up with an official, I don't see it as a huge crime.
  10. SgtSlam

    SgtSlam New Member

    Jun 20, 2005
    Thanks everyone, I feel better now. You are probably correct about being tired and a little cranky after being in the rain. I even had a few moms before the game try to get me to go to the tournament director and forfeit the game so they wouldn’t have to have their sons get wet, something about melting I think. :) :) :)
  11. BritSoccer

    BritSoccer New Member

    Jul 12, 2005
    Speaking as a player, a coach, a referee and a fan I have some comments.

    First and foremost, it does sound like you had some poor referees on that day. A good relationship is a two-way thing. The job of a referee is among other things to manage a relationship with players, coaches and spectators. Losing your temper and reacting in the way you describe is not acceptable.

    Let me address the point about the player telling the team mate to "push her down". Just because a player might say something does not mean a referee has to punish it. God, if I stopped play everytime I heard an adult player make a comment like that the ball would never be kicked. Should a player that young be saying stuff like that - NO! But it is going to happen. But as a coach it is not your job to comment on what players are saying. Whilst the referee could issue a yellow for unsporting behaviour it is unlikely that this will ever happen. You have to trust referees to deal with actual events rather on what a player might or might not do. If I were refereeing and I heard a comment like that I would ask myself several questions - Did they mean it? Whats the current spirit of the game? Has this player been making similar comments? Did they gain an advantage? etc...

    I have some major concerns with some of the things you mention. And now I speak as a coach. One of the worst things I see all the time is coaches "coaching" from the sidelines. Sadly, 85% of the time the coaching is negative. What affect does that have on players - you may think it helps them "pick up...." but I also see a lot of the time players become disheatened and fed up with constantly being told what they are doing wrong. My philosophy is that coaching should happen during training not competitive games. These are 9 and 10 year olds. They should be having fun, regardless of the outcome - yelling negative comments is not fun. Also, much material from professional organizations clearly states that the major objective of coaches all the way to U16 should be DEVELOPMENT as opposed to WINNING. I personally would never expect any game to go perfect - even professionals.

    You have to remember most of the time what referees hear is negative comments directed at them. Every ref in every game gets the "thats a corner ref" or "our ball" or "how did you miss that". I make a major effort to bite my tongue an always accept the referee decision - even if he does disallow a perfectly acceptable goal for offside that the AR never flagged for and was never offside in a million years (as happened to my team a couple of weeks ago in the final game). If your team is the better team, you'll win regardless of how bad the referee does. Even if you lose then accept that referees make mistakes. As do coaches and players.

    REMEMBER - With everything you do and say you set an example to the kids you coach and their parents. If you argue with referees, complain about decisions made and feel hard done by what example does this set?

    It is a pity that you seemingly had weak referees. From my own perspective I always try and build a rapport with coaches and players pre-game and during the game. I don't have a problem with calmly talking to coaches about my calls and asking them to settle down. Communication is often the key - letting everyone know your expectations and how you expect the game to be played. For instance, I will tell players that if anyone gives me any lip then it'll be a straight yellow. For swearing at me a straight red. Last weekend I had a quick chat with a coach at half time because the keeper kept shouting "mine" and "leave it" - I didn't want to penalise the player but I felt it part of my job to educate the coach and the player.
  12. SgtSlam

    SgtSlam New Member

    Jun 20, 2005
    Interesting comment, you write that you would not do anything about a comment like that out of a 10 year old because adults say that stuff all the time and it would make you stop the game all the time at that level. Do you always apply the rules the same to youth games as adult games. I assumed that most refs call a much closer game at the youth level, safety, learning and all, than at the adult level.

    Maybe it is just me, but I have seen players at the adult level, disagree (giving lip) with a call and not get a straight yellow. If that were the case 90% of the EPL would be carrying a yellow by the end of every match.

    You bring up a good point about swearing. We recently had a player get a yellow for swearing; he said “fricken” following a tackle from behind as he was getting up. I completely agreed with the ref as he was one of those good refs for youth games that tells the players why he is giving a card so everyone can learn from it, in addition he came over to my bench to tell me what he said so that I could put a stop to it. I told him I understood removed the player from the pitch and spoke to him about it. Then following the game, in my post game review with the boys, I again talked to the team about what they should not say. The boy said that he did not say a swear word, I explained to him and the team, I don’t care what you say, it is how you say it that makes is a swear word and that it would not be acceptable, to receive a card for such a silly thing. I said that depending on how I said “house” it could be viewed as swear word. The boys laughed but in the end understood what I was trying to get across.

    Is my description correct or is there a list published somewhere as to what a cardable word is?
  13. kevbrunton

    kevbrunton New Member

    Feb 27, 2001
    Edwardsburg, MI
    Chicago Fire
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    As a referee, if I hear one player tell another to harm a player, I will say something like a "Hey, we'll have none of that." type of comment. I have also had to say the same thing to parents when they tried to tell their kid to retaliate with harm (on a foul that was called no less). I told him to cool it and when he said it again later - he was asked to leave.

    What is cardable for language is almost COMPLETELY up to the individual because it is what is considered unsporting (for a yellow) and what is considered offensive, insulting or abusive (for a red). There is even greater variability from one referee to the next in the latter.

    I've worked with guys that didn't card (not even a yellow) when a player used the F word that everyone in the world heard (it was not directed at anyone, just yelled in frustration & pain). I've also seen a VERY devoutly religous referee give a yellow card for a player that said "Jesus, get off me" to another player. I will point out that this particular referee does warn the players in his pregame - "I am deeply religous. I don't cuss or use the Lord's name in vain and I find it deeply offensive when someone does."
  14. BC_Ref

    BC_Ref New Member

    Jul 18, 2004
    Locally, I've heard the concept of the 3P's (public, persistent, personal) in terms of cards. You hit all three - you've earned a red. None - likely nothing for a first offense apart from a warning (a striker missing an open goal and louldy cursing himself comes to mind).

    As kev points out, what gets a card is very ref specific. Calling me a cheat (or anything on that line) will get me annoyed very quickly and draw cards /bookings even if no swear words are used - I'm personally offended while a full volume F-bomb dropped on me has little impact (still gets a red as the player has just demonstrated gross stupidity, but doesn't really bother me).

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