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Law VI - Additional Information

Assistant referees communicate by using signals. Flag signals are the primary way you will be able to effectively communicate during the game. Referees count on you to provide valuable input into game management.

Each referee has minor variations in their game management style. Listen to the pre-game. Ask questions if a point is unclear. Do what the referee wants during that game, even if it differs from standard mechanics.

While running up and down the line, especially while sprinting, take pride in keeping the flag pointed directly at the ground. That skill takes practice to master. Once mastered, there is no confusion about partial signals - the flag is either all the way up or all the way down.

Assistant referees create problems by raising a flag part way, or all the way for a second or two, and then lowering it before the referee sees it. Spectators and coaches who view that phantom flag yell at the referee, who had no idea the flag was raised. That creates game control problems and the teams will attempt to divide the referee trio at every turn.

The most common occurrence for phantom flags is during offside situations. Perhaps the flag goes goes up a split second early or as you are raising the flag you spot another defender and realize the signal is in error. There are only five times you should lower a flag raised for an offside violation: the referee blows the whistle to signal the infraction, the referee waves your flag down, the ball goes out for a goal kick, the ball goes out for a defensive throw-in or the defensive team gains clear and un-pressured control of the ball.

There are instances during a game where the referee and the assistant need to hold discussions. It may only happen a few times during a season but it is almost always at a critical juncture in the game - how a player received an injury, which player committed misconduct behind a referee's back, why the ball that went into the net should not count as a valid goal, etc. Be extremely careful not to let those private conversations be overheard by spectators, coaches or players, the referee will signal the trio's decision. No one needs to overhear the preliminary reports.

Throughout this material and in many pre-game discussions, you'll note the term "when asked." A simple definition of this term is: "When the referee looks to the assistant referee for information. There is no verbal exchange. It is done entirely through eye contact."

After a season or two, referees learn to use the flag more effectively. Veteran referees should take the time needed to explain to less experienced referees why "talking with the flag" and giving proper flag signals aids game control.

Ask someone to videotape one of your games so you can analyze your signals. Are they up to par? Are you satisfied with the duration and crispness? Perhaps you don't have the expensive equipment needed to video the game. With a disposable camera and a roll of film, someone can catch you at 24 distinct moments during a game. Are you satisfied with each of those 24 moments?

Take pride in your signals. Certainly when you submit a written product to your boss or to your teacher, you want it to reflect well upon you. The same can be said of your signals.


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