Refereeing At The Next Level
Every referee strives to do their best in each and every game we service. It is our duty to enforce the Laws of the Game, as well as ensure the players' safety and enjoyment for all involved. Referees often train on their own, like players, to gain that competitive edge. Some ask, "What is the next level of games to which I should aspire?"
For the youth referee, the answer is the U.S. Soccer Development Academy.
The Academy is a partnership between U.S. Soccer and the top youth clubs around the country. The Academy's programming philosophy of increased training, fewer total games and more competitive games is based on U.S. Soccer's Best Practices, utilized by the U17 U.S. National Team Residency program.
The Academy is also focused on identifying and developing the next generation of elite referees. These referees are assigned by U.S. Soccer to referee at local and national events.
I had the pleasure of being selected to attend the U.S. Development Academy Winter Showcase in Phoenix, Ariz., in December. This was an intense experience featuring games, instructional sessions and also watching the International Friendly games with fellow referees and administrators.
I sat with Brian Hall, a former FIFA Referee, World Cup Referee and current U.S. Soccer Manager of Assessment and Training. We chatted about different aspects and decisions of the referee. We also talked about the personality required of the referee. The referee must be able to be flexible; the police person attitude is no longer acceptable. Players and coaches are human beings and need to be treated with respect. The referee's personality has the ability to either a positive or negative experience for all. Only you can control your own personality.
A referee must first want to referee at the next level. A drive and desire must be present. It's not enough to say, "I can handle those games." Much more is required off the field than on the field. Knowledge and understanding the Laws of the Game are simply not enough. Physical fitness should already be mastered. I trained for weeks leading up to the tournament. I spent countless hours reading and studying the Week in Review published on the U.S. Soccer website. I watched games. I talked to fellow referees. I was committed to the game.
After each game, one of the most useful practices I employ is self-analysis. I debrief myself on my performance at every level. I recall different situations in the game and ask myself if I could have handled anything differently. If you currently don't do this, I highly recommend you give a try.
Of course, all of this was done because of my love for the game. I want to be the best, but at the same time, I understand that it is not MY game. It's the kids' game. This perspective must be in place if you want to be successful. You must have fun. Being able to referee the up-and-coming U.S. National Team players is a tremendous opportunity and a huge thrill! Locally, we have opportunities like the Manchester United Premier Cup, ODP Friendship Cup, OYSA State Cup, Far West Regional League and others. All of these help prepare you for the next level.
What can you do to start preparing? OYSA offers continuing education classes, as well as an Elite Referee Academy that is by invitation only. We are striving to prepare our up-and-coming referees for the next level. Please contact OYSA to learn more about our Referee Development Program.
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