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The Soccer Sidelines

131 EpisodesProduced by David DejewskiWebsite

Join Coach Dave on the sidelines as he brings you in on what’s going on behind the scenes and the stuff that really matters in youth sports. Understand the game, development, and ways you can support your young athlete at home!


#51 – Being Beside THAT Mom or Dad

In the Line of FireThis past weekend, I was asked to be the Assistant Referee (AR) for my son's 2003 travel game. I'm not a referee, but on this day I had just come from a game and was wearing my coaching uniform. We look like race cars on the field and stand out from a mile away - especially since our club colored are red, black, and white. I was hard to miss. One of the AR's didn't show for the game and the Center Referee (CR) caught me before the game. My son's coach, bless his heart, pointed me out to him before the game as a possible substitute for the missing AR. I came to enjoy my son's game and ended up holding a flag and running up and down the field. Time to make the most of it, I thought. You need to know that I'm not a licensed referee. I have taken a course in officiating games, but that makes me a coach with a course in officiating. It doesn't make me a licensed referee and it certainly doesn't give me the right to make official calls at a soccer game. This last point is one that I'm glad to say the CR emphasized when he handed me the flag. I was to help him to see when the ball goes out of play, but calls like the offside call - one that has many moving parts (See episode #18 - The Offside Rule Explained) - was a call that he would make. This pre-game substitute AR speech is something I've heard before when I've been volunteered to do this job & I'm grateful for it. Watching a game with referee eyes is hard enough. This speech takes the pressure off a little, but as you'll learn in a minute, doesn't stop parents from throwing criticism. During our initial conversation, I could see that the CR got the sense that I might understand the calls well enough to help out, but he didn't know or trust me yet - so, as I would have done myself, he put some restrictions on. He did, however, tell me that if I think there MIGHT be an offside infraction, that I was allowed to hold my flag 45 degrees down as a HINT for him. He would make the call. The first half went by pretty well. I could see he was supporting what I was telling him about what I saw. He called me over for the second half, corrected my flag signals, and gave me a little more freedom to signal him with things I was seeing on the field. My head hurt when I was done. In my head, I was watching every touch of the ball - saying to myself "Out on white... out on blue... out on white. Out on blue..." with every touch - just in case the ball went out of bounds. I was terrified of raising my flag in the wrong direction when I saw it fully cross the line - or missing who it went out on all together when I did raise my flag. As a point of reference, I keep stats on my own games. In yesterday's game - the one that we played just before I came to watch my son's second game, we recorded 340 first touches in the first half, 409 first touches in the second half - for a total of 749 first touches in that game. My stats keeper had an emergency call during the first half, so some of our first touch stats were missing and I know that not all first touches get recorded properly even in the best case scenarios. What I was watching as a proxy AR wasn't just first touches. I was seeing first, second, third, knees, bumps, side-swipes, and ricochets off of shin guards. Whomever touches the ball last before a ball goes out of bounds on the touchline (sidelines) loses the chance to play it back in, so every little touch counts. Then I was watching the offside line - running up and down the sideline - staying even with the second to last defender (not including the goal keeper), watching and/or listening for the kick/pass and checking player positioning to determine whether or not a player was in an offside position at the time the pass was made - and if they materially impacted the play. I was a volunteer. I was intently watching as many details as I could manage. And I was missing out on watching my son play. But I was there. Enter - THAT Parent"What game are YOU watching, Ref?!

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