Improve and Sharpen your Skills with Practice and Repetition

 Becoming a successful athlete requires hours of practice and repetition.  The same can be said of successful officials.  Players practice long and hard in preparation for each game on their schedule.  Practices help players sharpen they physical and mental skills.  Among many other things, they practice individual skills, set plays, movement with and without the ball, communicating with teammates and teamwork.

Officials are athletes as well and need to routinely practice their physical and mental skills.  Whether done on an actual field or at home in front of a mirror, practicing and repeating those skills will improve confidence, relieve some of the game day stress and allow for more focus on the game.

Basic skills such as the mechanics of the pre-game coin flip, varying the sound of the whistle for different situations, displaying a yellow or red card, writing down information on the game card after a goal is scored or an incident happens should, with practice and repetition, become routine activities.

A very important practice is to review and have a good knowledge and understanding of the Laws of the Game as they pertain to the games one has been assigned (age groups, tournaments, etc…).

Assistant referees (now called Other Officials) duties, signals and mechanics should also be practiced.  All flag signal mechanics with the correct hand, recording goals scored and yellow/red cards issued should eventually become routine and allow for a more enjoyable game.

When meeting with partners BEFORE the game, a focus of the conversation should be on teamwork, communication (with players, spectators and staff), and sharing pertinent information regarding the game at hand.  The goal of the pregame meeting is to get the members of the officiating team to look (properly dressed and equipped), act as a team (good communication and signals) and to be on the same page throughout the match.

I suggest, when watching games in person or on an electronic device, watch the officials instead of the players.  Pay attention to the positioning, body language and mechanics of each official.  Make mental notes of what they do during dead balls or any break in the match. When situations arise be cognizant that the game you are watching may be played under a variation of the Laws you are being asked to enforce at the level you are currently working.