This past Tuesday I had the opportunity to center a U16 girls champions division game and it was an enjoyable experience. I had a state referee (and my assignor) Steve as one of my ARs and he was able to observe me and give me some good feedback regarding my strengths and weaknesses and how to better manage these higher level matches.
Overall, the match was fairly balanced. At halftime the score was 0-0 with no real incidents or anything too exciting. Plenty of opportunities to score but neither team was quite able to finish. After halftime, one of the teams really stepped up and was playing into space a lot, making some great outside runs and connecting on fairly long balls. It eventually wore down the opposing team and they were able to put a couple in the back of the net. The game ended 3-0.
Afterwards there was no real complaint from any of the players or coaches and everyone seemed accepting of the result and my effort. The feedback was pretty good and there was no real issues to speak of.
Steve then gave me some critiques some of which I had already addressed by halftime, which mainly revolved around positioning on restarts (mainly goal kicks and corner kicks) and then on Keeper punts. Basically, I was not getting far enough back towards mid-field on punts and goal kicks and in both cases was staying in roughly the same place. So he suggested that in the first 5-10 minutes, you have to gauge where the keepers can punt to and how long the goal kicks are and roughly where they are going to land so you can get within 5-10 yards of that spot to be ready for when it comes down. After that first 5-10 minutes of the match, you should be in position every time and not really miss a position from then on.
My positioning on corner kicks was basically too far away from the play and he gave me the helpful hint of being closer to where the penalty arc meets the 18 so that you are right there to see everything. All of the action he said is 95% of the time going to fall between the goal posts, so you want to be there to see everything and be able to move side to side to get a good view.
Some of my strengths he said were that I was confident, had a strong whistle, wasn’t afraid to talk to players or get involved if necessary, and was willing to work with my ARs instead of simply only relying on them or completely ignoring them. He said I had a strong knowledge of what was expected, had a reasonable idea of what was going to be acceptable or not for the match, and kept fairly consistent throughout.
Other than those critiques, the rest was mainly technical such as not asking the keepers if they are ready prior to starting a half, how to properly determine and add stoppage time if that is something I choose to do, how substitutions are going to be managed, and then making sure a proper pre-game is performed. The pre-game is my winter homework assignment, to come up with a less than one page summary of what should be included in a proper pre-game.
Once I do my write-up, I will be sure to add that back here as well!
But all in all, it was a great way to end the fall season with a good, high quality, enjoyable match!