Ref4Me

Any tips for playing in bad conditions

Viridis1886

New Member
Three of my four fixtures cancelled this weekend with a call being made on the Sat pm fixture due soon. The weather looks to be drier, but the if the match goes ahead I can imagine that the surface will be... slippy.

Any sage advice on how to manage the game - pre match chats, setting expectations, communication (helpful phrases in the game?) all gratefully received.
 
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ChasObserverRefDeveloper

Regular Contributor
Get both managers and captains together once you decide to go ahead.
Tell them you are happy to start on the understanding that players are going to have to be sensible, and you expect the managers and coaches to get that message across.
Make it clear that you will consider abandonment if it becomes farcical or dangerous.
Player safety is your number one priority so don't take chances.
Hope that helps.
 

Anubis

RefChat Addict
Slippy is my biggest no go, Leave aside players for a moment, you also need to think about you. Are you perfectly happy to jog, run, sprint, twist, turn ?

Is the whole pitch a risk. Goal mouths esp hard? is it just a few bits out at corner flag
Are conditions thawing, staying the same, sun coming up, no sign of sun, Is the temp rising or to rise, whats the forecast?

gauge the players and managers behaviour pre match, are you the only one wanting to play? Are they all wanting to play? one team more than other? be eyes and ears, watch their warm up, are they not following through properly kicking the ball for fear of slip? Are team mates passing comment to each other ' this is a joke' etc?

be coy, dont commit early, weigh up everything thats going on, is there a game on the next pitch, hows it going.
" is it on ref", reply with ' touch and go, what are you thinking?"
communicate openly, be open to input,

if you decide to go ahead, each to own but i stay clear of " ask your players to be sensible" etc. You would never not want the players to be sensible! if you have deemed the pitch playable ( safe) then thats that. If you need to ask for a change or mideration to the players intentions, you are contridicting yourself by saying the pitch is playable ( safe)
Setting yourself up for a huge fall when the first dubious tackle comed in!
As referee you either declare the park playable ( safe) or, I think it be ok AS LONG AS....( putting provisos in) , in which case all bets should be off, safety first, no game.
I use terms like " we can all see its one of those touch and go ones, as things stand right now am willing to start if you both are, bear in mind if we start that does not mean we are definately seeing out the 90"
I have very little involvment with captains so at the toss, if we decide to go ahead obv, i prob say something like, " if its obvious i hope i would be aware but if you find your players losing their footing, gimme a shout"

the one thing you will be certain to get if you go ahead, is a dodgy sliding late tackle, to which you be thinking red or yellow, more so red, followed by shouts of " Parks slippy ref, think about the conditions"
easy retort is, " you also need to think about the conditions"
Its a difficult task assessing an orange card at the best of times, you, by your own choice to play the game have made it even harder by adding in the underfoot conditions. Are we willing, or indeed able ability wise, to give ourselves this task?

You then have the fear of one team being three up at half time and conditions are deteriorating. You indeed might be more worried for your own footing, you now have a very difficult sell if deciding to call the game off.

Flip side, you get to 70 mins, with a variation of scores, well, you have got this far, surely you can see it out, weighed up against I really cant, folk are falling over

Bottom line is you are the one taking responsibilty for deeming the pitch playable, if in turn you do end up with the nightmare senario of countless limbs scattered across the pitch, whilst of course its not us made the tackle, or us twisted our ankle in a slip, it is us who have announced

" i as match referee declare this pitch playable today"

If we are going to regret that driving home post match, we already know our decision


edit, please never fall for old wives tales of sticking a car key in the ground to see if its safe and so on. Use the footwear best suited for the conditions, have a selection of footwear avail, be prepared.
 
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JamesL

RefChat Addict
Level 4 Referee
On a less than ideal surface, that is playable, but wet and slipper than a ry pitch I make it clear to captains that is on them and their players to take account of the Conditions, not me, and my foul and card tolerance is not reduced by the conditions and more likely increased.
 

Big Cat

RefChat Addict
Level 5 Referee
My pitch was inspected this morning and I've passed it as fit to play based on description. No standing water and the ball is rolling
By KO, it's gonna be marginal with all the rain today. But I'll always lean towards playing in the mud and rain
Frost, I'm heavily leaning the other way. If any of the ground is even partially frozen, It's dangerous and not conducive to football
Like @Anubis , I ain't speaking to the players about 'taking it easy' (That translates to postponing). Insane to think they'll listen anyways
They'll find out about my tolerance levels soon enough after KO
 

Anubis

RefChat Addict
My pitch was inspected this morning and I've passed it as fit to play based on description. No standing water and the ball is rolling
By KO, it's gonna be marginal with all the rain today. But I'll always lean towards playing in the mud and rain
Frost, I'm heavily leaning the other way. If any of the ground is even partially frozen, It's dangerous and not conducive to football
Like @Anubis , I ain't speaking to the players about 'taking it easy' (That translates to postponing). Insane to think they'll listen anyways
They'll find out about my tolerance levels soon enough after KO

Jackpot.

if you feel the need to tell anyone on a slippy pitch to watch their footing, you should all be away home by now.
its like playing snooker but avoiding the ripped part of the cloth, madness. The tables either fine to play on, or, its not.
 

JamesL

RefChat Addict
Level 4 Referee
Jackpot.

if you feel the need to tell anyone on a slippy pitch to watch their footing, you should all be away home by now.
its like playing snooker but avoiding the ripped part of the cloth, madness. The tables either fine to play on, or, its not.
Football and snooker are chalk and cheese comparisons.
Football pitch conditions are variable, from baked dry in the summer months to wetter in the winter months. From lots of grass in summer to barely any by Spring. Your proverbial rip on a snooker table is the bare patch every goal area has post November where the keepers stand most of the time.

We all know that players like to slide around on the wetter pitches, and because of this the risk of reckless challenges just increases naturally as players see a route to challenging they might not see on a dry pitch.

I've played/reffed on wet pitches that are totally playable safely and had the "conditions ref" excuse for silly sliding tackles taking advantage of the Conditions so I am just proactive at saying I won't be accepting those excuses. It's similar to I got the ball type stuff. That's just me, I am proactive. I like to think what might cause me a problem here and plant that seed early and you know what, I reckon its worked in the past and will in the future.
 

Anubis

RefChat Addict
Football and snooker are chalk and cheese comparisons.
Football pitch conditions are variable, from baked dry in the summer months to wetter in the winter months. From lots of grass in summer to barely any by Spring. Your proverbial rip on a snooker table is the bare patch every goal area has post November where the keepers stand most of the time.

We all know that players like to slide around on the wetter pitches, and because of this the risk of reckless challenges just increases naturally as players see a route to challenging they might not see on a dry pitch.

I've played/reffed on wet pitches that are totally playable safely and had the "conditions ref" excuse for silly sliding tackles taking advantage of the Conditions so I am just proactive at saying I won't be accepting those excuses. It's similar to I got the ball type stuff. That's just me, I am proactive. I like to think what might cause me a problem here and plant that seed early and you know what, I reckon its worked in the past and will in the future.

the idea is either your surface is ok, or, its not. If you need to instruct players to modify their game due to the conditions, you have an unplayable surface

Wet, mud, puddles, wind,baking sun,bring it on.

ice, no. imo.

even before i consider the players, as much as am happy to run, sprint, turn, in mud or a puddle or into a gale, am in no way pounding on an ice rink
 
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JamesL

RefChat Addict
Level 4 Referee
the idea is either your surface is ok, or, its not. If you need to instruct players to modify their game due to the conditions, you have an unplayable surface

Wet, mud, puddles, wind,baking sun,bring it on.

ice, no. imo.

even before i consider the players, as much as am happy to run, sprint, turn, in mud or a puddle or into a gale, am in no way pounding on an ice rink
It's not so much a debate about what is and isn't playable.. Think we're all agreed here.
But even on a playable wet surface players make stupid decisions about what is and isn't an acceptable challenge, it's not me whose modifying the behaviour more or less correcting it before it starts with some proactive comments.
It's not to say the pitch is unplayable, it's recognising that players will play differently on this pitch and letting folks know you've considered it. Weather does modify tactic, a wet boggy (but perfectly playable) pitch does not lend itself to the team that plays short tic a tac passing style football so we know the ball will spend more time in the air. Its just how it is and we adapt our reffing styles to suit, and if that is adapting our pre match to say don't be d*cks on this wetter surface then that's what I'll continue doing. I certainly won't be calling the game off because its a smidge wet. Wet does not equal unsafe. It can but not in any event like ice.
 

Tealeaf

Lighting the darkest hour
Staff member
Level 5 Referee
Keep a poker face.

You may decide to exercise some discretion (dare I say leniency) in respect of sanctions based on conditions.

For example a challenge that in “normal” conditions would be ok, but in wetter, muddier conditions a player may slip and foul an opponent.

If you haven’t said anything about this beforehand, you’ve room to make an allowance if you think it’s warranted, or sanction if not.

If you have said something early on and choose to sanction, you are open to criticism and risk undermining yourself.
 

socal lurker

RefChat Addict
This can cut both ways, too. Some actions that might be safe on a stable field aren’t on a sopping wet field- the players, too, have to take the conditions into account and know, for exampl, that they aren’t going to slow down as much on their slides.
 

RobOda

RefChat Addict
Level 3 Referee
I don't talk about the conditions except to warn the managers if I think it will be called off depending on the weather. The players, I'm not fussed on, because I know the losing team is definitely going to be exaggerating for a call off, and everyone's hunky dory if it's still 1-1 in the 67th minute.

The challenge for me is in identifying fouls and identifying slips. Watch for more technical players, they will definitely be impacted by the conditions, and you may find them tripping over the ball. You also need to keep an eye on players steaming in and losing control, not just for foul consideration but for their own safety.

Otherwise go by the mood and the tempo of the match IMO, there's no catch all, some teams will relish the muck and tuck in, others will play more sensibly and want to go home asap.
 

RustyRef

Administrator
Staff member
The key thing for me is don't just check the pitch, but also check the weather forecast. If a pitch is borderline waterlogged 30 minutes before kick off and there is no further rain scheduled you will probably get away with it, if there is further heavy rain due during the game you have no chance. Rest assured that even if both teams and managers want to play, as soon as one of them goes a goal or two behind they will be in your ear to abandon it.

Similar with frozen pitches. In a day time game you can give it a bit of time to defrost, but if it is an evening game if it is frozen at 4pm when the sun goes down it simply won't get any better. I had many a difficult discussion with clubs when they claimed the pitch was borderline OK, but I'm not starting a game unless there is a very high chance of it finishing.
 

DAW7

New Member
Where I am it's been pretty foggy today... similar forecast tomorrow.

At what point do you tend to deem a game unplayable/abandoned due to fog?

I think it's more likely my games tomorrow fall foul of frozen pitches given it's forecast -1/-2 until about 6am, and not breaking 0 until 11am...
 

RustyRef

Administrator
Staff member
Where I am it's been pretty foggy today... similar forecast tomorrow.

At what point do you tend to deem a game unplayable/abandoned due to fog?

I think it's more likely my games tomorrow fall foul of frozen pitches given it's forecast -1/-2 until about 6am, and not breaking 0 until 11am...

If you can't see one set of goalposts from the others.
 

DAW7

New Member
Thanks both! That's in the ballpark of where I'd have drawn it but didn't know if there was anything else to bear in mind.

Turned up to my match this morning... the home team had text me and assured me that the pitch was playable and definitely not frozen.

They were correct, it wasn't frozen... but you couldn't see much beyond halfway for fog... with no forecast of it lifting!

Needless to say we didn't kick off. Thankfully the away side saw the funny side and the home team realised their error in judgement 🤣
 

socal lurker

RefChat Addict
Many moons ago my father played soccer in San Francisco, which can be very foggy. They played regularly in heavy fog back then. He was a GK and talks about being able to see none of the other players—and then a forward appearing like a ghost out of nowhere.
 

Will_A

Member
Level 5 Referee
In my final season of playing, we turned up to a neighbouring village for a mid week local derby.
Our ground was no more than 2-3 miles away and was completely clear.

When we arrived at the oppositions ground it was the thickest fog I’d seen for a while, we could just see the goalposts from halfway and the referee deemed this acceptable.

It wasn’t until we got into the changing rooms that our manager told us he’d forgotten to put our usual yellow kit in the tumble dryer so we had our 2nd kit this evening. It was grey.
We couldn’t see each other, the goals or anything going on and got hammered! 😂
 
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