A long whistle signals the end of the first half of play. Everyone relaxes and retreats to a secluded area for a well deserved break.
Coaches quickly gather their players for a few minutes of rest, reflection, hydration, discussion and planning for the upcoming second half.
Halftime is also a break for the referees to rest, hydrate, and prepare for the second half. This is the time to verify any score, number of each scorer and any caution or send off.
During this short break, officials do not have the time to socialize with other players, spectators or to put on any display of soccer skills, such as juggling the ball or taking penalty kicks. Use the break to refocus, discuss any first half issues, share and, depending on the tempo and temperament of the first half, prepare for any changes that may present themselves during the second half.
In short the referees should use this time for a second pregame. Following are some possible questions the officials may need to ask as they take part in the discussion:
What do you hear from the players? Are they playing through the calls or do they appear dissatisfied and show dissent? Should we let them play more and allow more advantage, continue the way we are or call it tighter? Is anything going on after restarts that we need to be aware of?
Are there players who need a closer look, a quiet word or need more proximity? How have the coaching staffs been behaving? Is one team using some questionable tactics? Are team leaders or better team players being overly abused by defenders?
Is anything being missed during set plays? How may substitutions or a change in the score affect play?
Having a halftime conversation will prepare the officials for second half issues that may surface and make sure they are properly handled. A productive halftime meeting will help insure that there is a better chance of a successful conclusion to the match.
Pat Ferre. USSF Referee Grade 15 Emeritus, USSF Referee Instructor. USSF Referee Assessor. USSF Referee Assignor, District-7 Youth Referee Administrator (DYRA)