What is the "Pre-game"?
The Referee team has important duties which must be performed prior to the kick-off that starts the match.
There is clear evidence that, when the proper attention is paid to pre-game activities, "difficult" situations are far less likely to occur. These situations arise because of a lack of understanding of the Laws of the Game, confusion as to the rules of West Side Soccer and AYSO, insufficient communication, or simply because the referee has failed to set the proper expectations. Pre-game activities can prevent much of this.
When it's written down, this looks like a long, difficult, and laborious process. It's not. They more games you ref, the more these steps will become habit. The important thing to understand is that following this routine will make your job as a referee easier, happier and more fun.
We expect referees to arrive early enough to each match to perform their required pre-game activities. These include:
- Inspecting the pitch and the area around it for markings and dangerous conditions
- Inspecting the players and their equipment
- Making sure a suitable game ball is available
- Recruiting club linesmen if Assistant Referees are not available
- Providing instructions to, and answering questions from, the Referee team about your match expectations
- Being able to complete all these tasks and still start the match on time.
You should plan to arrive at least 15 minutes before the start of the match, or earlier if needed, for example, for the first match of the day. Be dressed in the proper uniform, with the required equipment: watch, pens, whistle, coin, flags, and data wallet. Checking the condition of the pitch involves the markings (touch lines, goal lines, penalty and goal areas, etc.) Are there any holes, glass, rocks, debris, puddles etc? If so, can they be fixed or removed, or is it unsafe? Are the goals properly secured with properly attached nets with no holes or gaps? Are there corner flags or cones?
What is involved in checking the players equipment?
- Shirt, Shorts, Shoes, Socks, Shinguards (the 5 S's)
- If thermal shorts are worn, they must be the same color as the shorts
- Shin guards must be under the socks
- Goalkeeper's jersey (in games involving keepers) must be distinguishable from all other players jerseys or they should wear a pinny.
There must be nothing dangerous. Your opinion is final as to whether any item or condition is dangerous.
- No jewelry, watches, earrings
- No casts or splints (even if padded). Please note: Players who arrive at the field wearing a cast or splint will NOT be allowed to play even if they remove the cast or splint.
- Knee braces are okay, but only if padded and safe to all players (in your opinion)
- Medical alert bracelets may be worn, but must be secured to the player with tape, cloth wristband or something similar that is safe. The information must remain visible.
Referees should allow for time to speak with the coaches. The items that could be covered are:
- Strength of side. Do the coaches have to adjust the strengths for a fair match (remember "Balanced Teams") within the rules of the division?
- Time of the match. Will it have to be shortened for any reason?
- Substitution procedures.
- Injury procedures.
- Who is supplying the game ball?
The referees can use this time to explain anything they feel is appropriate. Be approachable (not flippant, cold or arrogant). Coaches should use this time as an opportunity to ask questions and clarify any issues. We believe that the coach/referee relationship will improve dramatically if referees and coaches both know what to expect during the match.
Referee Team Briefing
Prior to the game, the members of the referee team need to discuss the roles and requirements of each team member. The Referee must give instructions to the Assistant Referees as to positioning, priority on calls, signals to be used, and any specific knowledge regarding the pitch, or the teams, that is relevant and useful.
If Assistant Referees are not available, then club linesmen must be supplied by the coaches. Club linesmen indicate when the ball is out of play. They do not indicate direction of the restart. They do not indicate offside, fouls or misconduct. The Referee should instruct the club linesman as to what they should and should not do during the match.