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The art of reffing solo

With the dire referee shortage increasing the chances of finding yourself without assistant referees presents an opportune time to republish this article on how to handle games solo.

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The referee's position is called a "diagonal," which he or she runs goes from corner flag to corner flag.

Actually, a referee who strictly adheres to this diagonal will miss seeing a number of fouls. I like to think that the referee’s positioning isn’t a diagonal as much as it is a modified version of a half-open scissor -- corner flag to corner flag and penalty arc to penalty arc. The referee is not a slave to this positioning, but it is a rough guide to follow, especially for the newer referee.

I remember refereeing a good youth tournament played at the Stadio Olimpico in Torino. On a rest day for me, I was able to watch the games from high in the almost empty stadium and saw a young ref, with potential, make the mistake of literally running from corner flag to corner flag, even if the ball was 50 yards away. He missed some fouls that would have been obvious to whistle if only he was closer to the play. You need not understand Italian to know that the coaches were unhappy with him.

Whether you are refereeing a game by yourself or with the use of assistant referees (ARs), use the half-open scissor as a rough guide for positioning.

Many youth referees start out officiating good games without the help of ARs. The great majority of my first 1,000 games were matches in which I was the only official assigned.

A coach once said to me, “Referees seem much more confident when they have assistant referees.” Well, of course! Just as the players on his team would be much more confident if they had a full team rather than a depleted squad.

When you are the only official, should many offside decisions need to be made (such as when one or two teams are playing an offside trap or high defensive line), you should stay a bit closer to the touchline than usual, thinking about how the ARs, standing just outside the touchline, signal for offside. The side of the field is the best position for calling offside. Yet if you stay too close to the touchline, you will be in a poor position to call fouls.

Club ARs, usually the relative or friend of a player, will help you determine when the ball goes over the touchline. Tell them before the game, “Raise the flag only when the entire ball goes over the entire line. Do not give me the direction of the throw as I will determine it.”

They are not to signal direction as this can create a perception that they are cheating for the team they want to win. Make sure that you thank them both before and after the game as they are volunteering their time to help you.

No matter if the club ARs say that they want to help you even more, even they say they're an international referee, the only responsibility of the club AR is to signal when the ball went over the touchline -- not to raise the flag for fouls or for offside or when the ball went over the goal line.

(Randy Vogt has officiated more than 11,000 games in six different decades.)

From Youth Soccer Insider: The Skin Cancer Dilemma for Refs

By Randy Vogt, April 20, 2015

I started refereeing in 1978 so I have been officiating for 37 years. The only regret that I have during this time is that I did not wear a black baseball cap when I started.

My referee career began when sun tan lotion was used instead of much more effective sun block. Who knew that the sun’s rays could be so harmful? It was not nearly discussed as much as it is today. During the 1990s, referees started discussing the skin cancer issue much more than they had in the past.

>>read the remainder of this article by going to


from Youth Soccer Insider: How Refs Make the Whistle Work For Them

byRandy Vogt, April 9th, 2015 2:23AM

Soccer referees carry their whistles in their hands, not in their mouths. In raising the whistle to the mouth to blow it, a referee has a moment to analyze a foul to make certain that there is not an advantage situation developing.
When I spot a ref running down the field with the whistle in his or her mouth, I know that referee is inexperienced.

>>read the remainder of this article

from Youth Soccer Insider: Blaming the ref doesn't work

December 5th, 2014 3:35AM
By Mike WoitallaI've long believed that coaches lashing out at referees is a counter-productive practice. After reffing and ARing nearly 40 youth games in the last year -- and surveying other referees -- I'm even more sure of it.

>>read the rest of this article at

from Youth Soccer Insider: Ref, Can we talk?

byMike Woitalla, December 10th, 2014 1:43PM

Among the feedback we got from last week’s column on referee abuse (“Blaming the ref doesn't work”) were those who pointed out that sometimes coaches do feel a legitimate need to communicate with the referee -- especially when the coaches believe their players’ safety is at risk.

I have over the years asked experienced refs: What’s a reasonable way for coaches to express their grievances to refs?

>>read the rest of this article at

(Mike Woitalla, the executive editor of Soccer America, coaches youth soccer for Bay Oaks/East Bay United SC in Oakland, Calif and is a Grade 8 referee. He is the co-author, with Tim Mulqueen, of The Complete Soccer Goalkeeper. Woitalla's youth soccer articles are archived

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