Most Common Problem Areas When Refereeing Soccer

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  1. Keep up with play. It looks bad from the side line and the players/coaches get upset when you give (or don’t give) decisions because you are near the halfway line while the play is up one end of the field! DO NOT HAVE YOUR BACK TO THE LINESMEN.


  1. Your most important piece of equipment is your whistle. Make sure you purchase a good whistle. Your whistle is necessary to control the game, attract the players’ attention and convey your directions. All players must be able to hear your whistle from wherever they are on the pitch.


  1. Know the main rules in soccer and don’t be afraid to instruct the players (especially novice/young). Show them how to take a throw in if they keep doing it wrong! It is not an offence to be in an offside position, only if they gain an advantage. Learn the offside rule as it is the number one problem especially when we don’t have neutral linesmen.


  1. Look interested, give hand signals (who’s free, which way is the throw in), be assertive and friendly. Use the whistle properly. If it’s a normal free, short sharp whistle, hard tackle that could cause an injury, long loud whistle. If you need to gain players attention (i.e. making a sub/goal kick), a few short bursts of the whistle, when they look at you, hold out your hand in the stop position and you can also say “wait”.


We learn from our mistakes. Ask the coach for an honest opinion after the match. Remember we are going to make mistakes and can’t see everything. Ignore the abuse, but don’t allow it to continue. Use the yellow card sparingly but with authority.


Max Light – Melbourne Sports Institute Referee and FFV Referee Assessor



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