Allowing too much and calling to much

Tim - 2013

New Member
Level 7 Referee

I am a US Soccer Ref, usually 13 to 19 year old competitive and school competition.

I started in 2013 and I've gone from calling everything by the book to allowing more challenges.

I've watched higher level play and seen the 'letting them play through it'. This is what I believe is a weakness of mine.

I talk during the game. "Play the ball" and "hands down".

What do you do when both teams play the same way. Both like to reach out and both swat the hands and arms away.

When the charge is side by side, they lock arms.

As much as I hate the simultaneous foul, it just happens. I cant tell who got the arm under the other first. The swatting is usually starts as trivial as its just avoiding the 'touch', not grab.

I usually whistle when the armlock becomes a wrestling match as neither lets go as the ball goes awry.

I want to nip it in the bud and preferably early.

Any suggestions?
The Referee Store

socal lurker

RefChat Addict
Tough to give much here without seeing the plays, but I’ll toss out a couple of ideas that you can take for whatever they’re worth. (I’m also in the US and do mostly 16s and 19s with 14s and occasional younger games.)

Are you adjusting to the age/level in what you allow? The older more skilled they are, the higher you can set the foul bar--but it should be lower than what you see on TV as far as what can be trifling, (I find the hardest adjustment to be doing a high/old game and then a significantly lower/younger game.)

Keep in mind that the simultaneous foul = DB is gone. If you can’t tell which came first, you have to decide what foul was worse using the criteria in Law 12. (At least in USSF games--I don’t recall if NFHS is there or not.). It sometimes if they are both doing the same thing to the same degree, the answer might be that there wasnt a foul and what they were both doing was trifling. (Which is often what we see on TV: holding or pushing that could be considered a foul but is within the tolerance of the players and is just trifling for that level.)

Often if challenges are devolving too wrestling matches, the foul bar for the game is too high. May be a sign to lower the foul bar to settle things down.

Consider after these plays that have you torn whether there is something you could be doing to have a better position to see who crossed the line first.

AYSO uses the mantra safe-fair-fun. One question to try is who did something that was unfair or unsafe in the context of the game.

finally, when I teach refs and talk about TV games, I tell them there is a lot you can learn from the pros—but not foul recognition. You really can’t apply the professional bar for trifi in a youth game.

Tim - 2013

New Member
Level 7 Referee
I think that's where I went...allowing more than the level of play. I was doing 18 year old state championship games and got assigned a bunch of 13 and 14 competitive games and didnt change my level.

Thinking back, I realize I didn't change. With 18s, they'd pass sooner or too strong and smart for the wrestling.

Thanks. I think you hit it...watching, and doing high level games, changed my game handling.

ref craig

RefChat Addict
Level 5 Referee
This is a tip I can usually help you with I gage what the player's are going to be like in the first 10 15 minutes give that little pull tugg trip push and if is a case they want to play football let them play if they want to throw there dummies out the pram then blow for every single foul they soon moan

Tim - 2013

New Member
Level 7 Referee
That's what was bugging me. I found both teams willing to play this way for the whole game. When I get brute vs finesse, it's a whole different game. But, I had two brute teams. Honestly, I could have switched players on the field and it would look the same.

I took notes about the game. Its hard when your ARs say everything looked fine and the coaches of the next game watched and agreed. I was second guessing myself because, even if they played that way, they didnt like it going against them.

That's where I'm at. To stop it because they moan at not succeeding but happy when it does.