Top Mistakes Novice Soccer Referees Make

Being a Referee

Being a referee for any sport can be incredibly exhausting. Learning the rules can be difficult, especially if it is not a sport that you played as a child or young adult. Despite this fact, it is imperative that all good referees know the rules to their sports inside and out.

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They have to know, understand, and respect the rules in order to be able to referee the game fairly. However, they are still human, so they sometimes make mistakes. This can be especially true for referees who are just getting their start in the business. Here are some of the top mistakes that beginning referees, specifically for soccer, make.

Common Mistakes of Beginning Soccer Referees

l Not knowing how long the halves are. While this may seem like an incredibly easy task, the lengths of the halves of a soccer game vary by division level and by area of the state. Some games are even divided into third or quarters instead of halves. This can make it incredibly confusing to novice referees, because sometimes they will referee one game with forty-five minute halves, and then referee another game an hour later with twenty minute thirds. Knowing the exact length of the various parts of the game is something that comes with time, so it is something that novice referees have to pay extra attention to.

l Missing an offsides call. Offsides calls can be some of the trickiest calls to make. There are so many rules surrounding what exactly constitutes a position of “offsides” that often time referees do not make the fact.

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Couple this with the fact that offsides positions often take place away from where all of the game action is and it becomes easy to see why referees, especially novice referees, can miss this call so much. Paying attention to both the ball and the action surrounding it, in addition to both ends of the field to ensure that no one is offsides, is much easier said than done.

l Paying attention only to the ball and legs of the players. This can be the most difficult thing for new soccer referees out of all of the tasks that they have to learn. Especially if they played soccer when they were younger, but even if they didn’t, they have to train themselves to constantly look at the whole field, instead of just down at the ball and legs of the players where all of the action takes place. Novice referees generally have to remind themselves of this constantly, but this can be a difficult task even for experienced referees. Learning how to be in the right position in order to be able to see the whole field, be able to make proper judgment calls, and training yourself to survey the entire field can be incredibly difficult.

After the Novice Referee Days


After you have completed all of your training and have refereed a few games, several of these tasks will seem much more simple to you. At first, the referee industry can seem to be very difficult, but with some hard work and experience, it can be a rewarding job. All new referees make mistakes, and some make a lot.

As a player or spectator, it is important to respect the calls of the referee, and as a referee, it is important to not get discouraged. When everyone works together to make the games a better place to be, then everyone will be able to focus on what actually matters: the game itself.