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Referees: How can I help?

How can I help?

Often fellow referees come up to me and say, “I would like to help” or “if you need anything, call me, put me to work”. These comments are about helping in the North Texas Soccer Referee Program, helping our newest referees succeed.

If you are interested, here’s a few things you can do to help strengthen the NTX Referee program without adding to your calendar of commitments. These helpful things can be done when you are teamed up with newer referees or just walking back to your car at the end of the day.

  1. When you are at the fields and you see some of our younger referees on their very first games Under 5-8, if they are on a break or just finishing up, tell them, “nice job!” or “you look like you’re having fun”, “you look like a pro”. Give them a positive compliment and then thank them. “Thanks for being out here”, “Keep having fun”. These positive comments will go a long way.

    Many of these games are chaotic. Parents, coaches and other spectators are yelling out instructions. Most of the players don’t hear the whistle or the voice of the referee. Some players dribble the ball off their field and continue right on over to the next field. Just recently I watched a U5 player dribble the ball off the field and smack into the perimeter fence. Thankfully, the fence was there or else he would have ended up in a pond. On these entry-level games, often players will start crying or run off the field and leap into their parent’s arms. Cute and chaotic is what a lot of these games are.

    Words of thanks and praise will go a long way. All we need at this level is for referees to show up on time, in proper uniform and give it their best. If you tell them “thanks” and give them some positive reinforcement, that will be enough.

  2. If you are paired up with the younger, newer referee, perhaps your assignor has asked you to do some of the younger age groups and is giving you brand new referees to help mold and teach. Keep the feedback positive and helpful. Keep it to a minimum. If you are working a three-game set with one or both newer referees. Give them praise, praise, praise and one thing from each game to work on. That’s it, one thing per game. If they get one thing for each game and they are working four to eight games every weekend, they will get better, stronger and more confident very quickly.
  3. Let’s say your crew consist of you, an experienced wonderful referee with lots of wisdom, another respected senior referee and a newer referee.  If the other senior referee is given the task of being a mentor and providing helpful feedback to the newer referee, just listen to the half-time instruction or the after-game feedback.  While you are equally awesome and valued, we don’t ever want to come across as two against one in a setting like this. What happens is, the younger referee is going to get overwhelmed and hear nothing. “One more thing” is always added. Remember, one, maybe two things per game (older age games) is great and is often all that is heard. You will have plenty of opportunity to share your wisdom.
  4. Set a great example. The newest referees are observant, they see everything. Lead by example in all areas of refereeing.
    1. Appearance – look professional. Make sure your uniforms are bright and not wrinkled.
    2. Be punctual – why should I show up 30 minutes early? You are setting the example for our newest referees. Besides, you want to get a good spot in the referee area to keep your stuff. There are exceptions to this requirement, but do your best to follow it as often as you can.
    3. Be prepared – have all your gear. Know where your games are.
    4. Mechanics, positioning – the newest referees are going to copy what they see. Let’s all be consistent in the basics.
    5. Administrative stuff – do it right. Show the newest the correct way.
      Lead by example and give every game your best.


We are all different. We learn and advance at our own pace. Respect every referee, thank all of them and encourage them to give every game their best.

Thank you for all that you do for the NTX Referee Program.

Have a great season.

Ann Hicks
Director of Instruction