It's good to do "post-mortems" on games that you don't "feel right"
about...as well as games that went particularly well. I think it helps us
sift through our approach, to learn what we're doing right, as well as what
we're doing wrong.
Sometimes, though, the problem isn't necessarily with us...or even the
players. On occasion, it's simply differing expectations of the teams:
for instance, I find that I have few problems in games involving two
"physical" teams --- or two "finesse" teams --- because both sides have
similar expectations (allowing me a better sense of what needs to be called
for that particular game) and similar reactions to my decisions, allowing
me to calibrate my calls to the level of play more easily. Most problems
I've had involved competing styles of play --- eg, a "physical" team
playing against a "finesse" team. In these games, sometimes NOBODY is
happy --- the team used to relying on its muscles often tends to feel I'm
calling every ticky-tacky foul; the team used to relying on speed and ball
skills often feels as if they're getting hacked mercilessly --- because I'm
trying to give both teams an equal chance to play to their own strength.
It's possible that your experience in this game was similar...and your
feeling "out of sync" simply reflected the fact that each team had
different expectations, and was trying to play a different game than their
On the other hand...I've also had to deal with organized "thuggery" ---
some with teams even younger than U13B --- where the coaches seem to
encourage fouling as a tactic. Probably the best thing to do is simply
keep your ears and mind open --- and listen for the kind of squawking that
often comes when one team is trying to play by the rules, and the other is
not...or when there are "off-ball" incidents that you and your ARs aren't
catching. (This is one reason why, IMHO, it's better to be "approachable,"
rather than rigidly punishing anyone who squawks about a call...but that's
a topic for another debate). I find that it's often an early warning that
trouble is looming on the horizon, and I'd better find a way to deal with
it before the players take matters into their own hands.
Another good approach is to try to train yourself to watch behind or away
from the play, for "off-the-ball" incidents: watching an extra moment or
two after a pass or clearance can be quite illuminating, in terms of what
the players are up to when they think the Ref isn't watching...and can
prevent lots of trouble, particularly if the first such "incident" wins the
lucky participant a yellow card. In addition, training yourself to take
advantage of an opportune run of play to look around and behind you ---
when the ball is in the air, for instance; or when a player is dribbling
uncontested down one wing or the other --- can help you keep tabs on what
players are doing when the play isn't near them: if they're pushing and
holding when the ball is elsewhere, you're on the verge of major trouble.
Another thing you might do is make sure your ARs...especially your trailing
AR...is on alert to watch behind your back for off-ball incidents. You may
not want to stop play for all such incidents...but you should be aware of
them, so that you can stop them before they cause the game to deteriorate.
On Wed, 15 Aug 2001 06:49:43 -0600, Peter Guthrie <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>I was asked to participate in a scrimmage game between to U13B teams
>yesterday. One of the teams was the team my son played on at U11,
>and that I helped coach at that time. I know most of those players
>well, although none of the players I had brought up through the ranks
>from U6 were no longer playing (this little disappointment is _not_
>the topic of this message). For some reason, I felt a little out of
>synch with the game (I even ended up giving two yellow cards, which
>is pretty unusual for me at this age).
>In thinking about the game afterwards, I think I have identified at
>least part of the problem. The visiting team (red) was doing a lot
>of holding/grabbing away from me. The home team (white) was not used
>to that tactic, and didn't know how to fight through it, or attempt
>to fight through it and thereby make the effect of the grabbing clear
>I think I have little problem identifying this type of foul among
>older players, but was not able to spot the problem with these
>younger players. Clearly, something was happening that was