Beyond The Pitch
Beyond the Pitch is a new feature of Whistle Stop written for Referee Administrators, Referee Instructors & Assessors. “Beyond the Pitch” will run in the third issue of each month. Please email comments, questions and suggestions for future topics to ThomasBobadilla@ayso.org
May 16, 2013
Instructors can help Intermediate and Advanced referees pass the written exam.
The Law exams get progressively more difficult as referees move through the Basic, Intermediate, Advanced and National Referee Courses.
The Intermediate and Advanced courses cover much of the Laws and AYSO program information that will be covered in their respective exams, but many students can't absorb all of this information successfully if they're hearing it for the first time in class.
Here are some tips that have worked in the past to increase the pass rate on written exams:
- If you have email addresses for the students, contact them a week or two before the class. Along with a welcome message and any course/venue logistics, send them the appropriate pretest with links to the study materials (Laws of the Game, USSF Advice to Referees, USSF Guide to Procedures, AYSO Rules and Regulations). This will help them understand areas where they could benefit from further study.
- Review the pretest with students so that they have the correct answers and have the opportunity to ask further questions.
- After grading the Law exam, take time to review it with the students. It's very important that students understand which questions they missed, and why.
- Consider offering the written exam twice. There are two versions (A and B) of both the Intermediate and Advanced Law exams. Students who don't pass one version can immediately take the other version. A best practice is to offer the first version early in the course, (students who have studied have a good chance of passing it) and the second version at the end of the course (after all course material has been covered). If students take both versions of the written exam without passing, they must wait one month before taking an exam again.
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April 18, 2013
Spring season is a wonderful time to expand and mentor the referees in your Region. Typically, AYSO Regions also offer games during the spring season. This is a great time to expand, mentor and increase the knowledge of your referee pool, and to encourage them to attend upcoming classes. Spring games can be a bit more challenging and can hone your Region’s referees’ skills. Spring is also a time to expand the knowledge of your Region’s referees and to encourage them to seek advancement by enrolling in referee training classes.
Here are some ideas to help facilitate the needs of your Region’s referee pool:
- Email all referees and encourage them to participate in higher-level referee courses offered in your Region or Area.
- Email Intermediate Referee candidates and encourage them to schedule an observation on a U-12 game during the spring.
- Email Advanced Referee candidates and National Referee candidates and encourage them to schedule an assessment for either a U-16 or U-19 game.
- Ensure that the Region’s mentors and assessors are active in the development of newer referees.
- Encourage your Region's referees to step into the referee position on a U-12 game. Make sure you schedule experienced assistant referees to help out.
- Be out on the fields during game days and encourage parents to participate as referees. Encourage them to enroll in upcoming courses in their Region.
- Encourage referees to sign up to help out in other Regions’ tournaments. They will have many opportunities during the end of spring and summer.
Most of all stay in contact with your referees, this will let them know that they are part of the AYSO community all year long - not just during the regular fall season. You can do this by sending emails to the group or individually (the personal touch). And think about having an end-of-spring appreciation party to show your gratitude.
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March 21, 2013 Assessors/Mentors
“When I’m doing a debrief after watching a game, I feel bad about criticizing the referee’s performance. What’s the right way to let referees know what they’re doing wrong?”
The most important thing to remember is not to think of the debrief discussion as criticism. There is simply no better way for referees to improve their performance than to be observed by an assessor or an experienced mentor, and then talk about what they might do differently in future games. Rather than telling a referee what they’re doing wrong, discuss what you objectively saw, its effect on the game and what the referee might do instead to get a better outcome. For example, let's say you watch a referee who is consistently far from play, and although he appears to be trying, simply can't keep up. Fitness may be an issue, but it may be the case that the referee is running at his top speed.
Things you could
say that would sound like criticism:
- “You’re always way too far from play.”
- “You’re very slow.”
- “You don’t seem to be very fit.”
These are all negative statements that could cause the referee to stop listening and tune out of the good advice you might have for him. Not only that, but these statements are all very subjective and they’re not backed up by anything, other than opinion.
Here’s a different way to go about it. Consider starting the conversation with a general question:
- “How do you feel about the game?”
- “How do you think you did?”
- “Did you have fun?”
Opening questions like the ones above have a tendency to start a friendly discussion that can often give you very useful information. Recently, a candidate for Advanced Referee asked an assessor to watch her center a game and tell her whether she was ready for her first assessment. The assessor was disappointed because the referee was consistently 30 to 40 yards from play and didn’t seem interested in getting any closer. But, the assessor started the discussion as he always does, with a general question that allows the referee to self-assess.
The debrief started like this:
Assessor: “How do you think it went?”
Advanced Referee: “Terrible. I pulled a hamstring about 10 minutes into the first half. I was nowhere near play for the whole game. I probably missed everything, I should have called.”
Of course this changed everything in the assessor’s mind and he was able to focus his comments accordingly. The rest of the debrief covered everything other than closeness of play.
Let’s imagine that the debrief had started differently:
Assessor: “How do you think it went?”
Advanced Referee: “Great! This was one of my best games ever. I think I’m ready for that assessment.”
Obviously, the assessor and the candidate aren’t on the same page about being close to play. The assessor has a responsibility to give the candidate the best advice he can in a way that the candidate will be most receptive to.
Here are some tips that might uncover more information and help you get your message across in a positive way:
- During the game, if you see a recurring problem with positioning or closeness to play, start keeping track of the referee’s position when important things happen (shots on goal, fouls called, fouls not called, etc.). You can use AYSO field diagrams for this, or you can just draw a field on a blank piece of paper. During the debrief, a diagram will serve as objective evidence that will help the candidate understand why you think he’s not close enough to play.
- Start the topic off with a clear statement of your expectation, stated in a manner that gets the candidate to buy in. “You know that we like
- Advanced Referee candidates to stay between 10 to 20 yards from play as much as possible, right?”
- Through discussion and reference to your diagram (objective evidence), let the referee know that she was nowhere near that close to play.
- Use friendly, non-judgmental, referee-to-referee discussion about the game to get the information you need in order to provide helpful advice. For instance, ask the candidate whether she recognized how far away from play she actually was. It may be the case that she feels comfortable at that distance, or it may also be the case that she’s simply not capable of staying closer to play. Once you know, you can prepare to give the appropriate advice.
- If the candidate isn’t fast enough to keep up with play, talk about the concept of anticipation. “Work on moving to where you know play is going to be, so that you’re already in place when it gets there.”
- If the candidate seems comfortable being 30 or more yards from play, discuss the advantages of being closer (you see more, it’s easier to sell your calls, etc.). If possible, illustrate this point using your own observations of fouls that were not called, but that might have been were the referee is closer to play.
The bottom line is to make sure you know what’s really going on before you comment on it. Then, discuss things objectively using AYSO’s established criteria and your own observation of the referee’s performance. A good assessor or mentor must be willing to point out areas for improvement. A good candidate will accept that guidance and use it to become a better referee.
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February 21, 2013 How Students Can Withdraw Themselves from a Course
How many times has this happened to you as an Instructor or Administrator?
The eAYSO roster shows 30 students that have registered for your course, but only seven actually show up. On the bright side, you will still be training new referees or upgrading existing volunteers. On the downside, you've recruited instructors that might have traveled a great distance. You've also purchased food and materials for the 30 that registered. This can be quite frustrating and result in unnecessary costs.
There's one tool in eAYSO that is oftentimes overlooked that can be a solution to help reduce this kind of situation. It's the ability of the student to withdraw their name from the course roster and automatically send a notice of withdrawal to the Lead Instructor. Many volunteers know how to register or enroll for a course, but very few know how to properly withdraw from that same course. We need to spread the word to students and prospective students on how they can do this.
For a student to withdraw from a course, they must:
- First log on to eAYSO
- From the home page, look for a link that says "View enrolled classes"
- The link will probably be near the bottom right of the eAYSO home page
- It should look like this:
• View enrolled classes
By clicking on the link, it will open up a list of all courses in which the user is currently enrolled.
- Select the course to withdraw from by clicking on the radio button to the left of the course
- Click on the "Withdraw from class" button at the bottom of the screen and confirm the action when prompted to do so
This will withdraw the user from the course and automatically send a message of cancellation to the Lead Instructor and Contact Person.
A video that demonstrates this procedure can be viewed here
Spread the word to your volunteers on this powerful and effective tool!
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January 24, 2013 Take Good Care of Youth Referees
As adult volunteers, it is important to be aware of the similarities and differences between our youth and adult referees in order to better support them. We must understand how they think and adjust our thinking to give them the best possible refereeing experience.
The similarities are obvious. We all took the same referee course with the same instructors, know the Laws of the Game, have a whistle and wear a yellow jersey. Both youth and adult referees know that skilled and successful refereeing requires very fast assertive thinking. That is where the similarities end.
The substantial difference that adults have is years of experience of being in control and assertive, being decision makers and standing their ground. Youth referees come only with the entry-level training we have given them. They often don’t have the self-confidence that comes from years of life experience and maturity. They have less experience and have little knowledge of supervising at any level.
Here are some things we can do to help youth referees:
- Train them well.
- Give them the tools to manage coaches, spectators and players from their youth perspective.
- Provide them with proper uniforms that fit.
- Don’t push them into challenging games.
- Encourage youth referees to upgrade.
- Do not allow any verbal abuse.
- Teach them how to deal with abuse and who to turn to for help in dealing with abuse before, during and after a game.
- Give them the additional support they need to be confident and successful.
- Familiarize yourself with the AYSO Youth Referee Program, also known as the Player Referee Organization Program (PRO).
- Reinforce correct calls. (eg. say “Good Call”, give a thumbs up, a smile, or observing and offering positive mentoring before, during and after a game from an experienced referee).
- Mix the officiating team with adult and youth referees.
- Have all youth officiating teams.
- Friendship/Companionship - this takes many forms; buddies, adult ‘sponsors’, instructors and mentors.
- Respect - youth referees deserve the same respect that an adult referee receives.
- Use teaching and mentoring methods that are effective for youth. Don’t talk above them. Don’t ignore them.
Youth referees trust and respect your advice and model your behavior. You are their role model and person they look up to.
It is essential that our youth referees have someone they feel safe with. Create an open environment so that the youth referee can talk about the good and bad of the game they just officiated.
Please remember: Appreciate them. Reward them. Thank them.
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December 20, 2012 Referee Administrators/Instructors/Assessors/Mentors
As a member of the referee staff, do you teach your referees to have a "thick skin" regarding negative comments from the sidelines? While it's good to help your referees learn how to deal with negativity from coaches or spectators, simply ignoring such comments can actually make the problem worse in the long run.
When referees allow such behavior to persist, they are sending a silent message that this behavior is allowed. This can result in a number of undesirable consequences.
- Negativity is contagious: dissent from one individual can soon become dissent from many individuals.
- Game control immediately becomes more difficult for the referee.
- Players, spectators and coaches learn that negative commentary is permitted behavior.
- This not only affects the current game; it's also bad news for the referee of this team's next game. Also, that referee may be a Youth Referee. Negative comments from the sidelines should always be acknowledged and dealt with quickly and firmly. Referees have a set of tools available for responding at the appropriate level when comments become negative:
- "The Look" - quick eye contact in response to the first comment, indicating that it was heard and not appreciated.
- "The Hand" - when comments continue, a non-threatening, non-offensive, but clear gesture indicating that it's time for the negativity to stop. When used early, this simple tool can often end sideline dissent before it really gets started.
- "The Talk" - at a stoppage in play, the referee initiates a discussion to either ask the coach to stay positive or to help keep the spectators in line.
- "The Warning" - a formal warning that if the negativity doesn't stop, the offender will have to leave the sidelines and the vicinity of the field.
- Expulsion - referees must be prepared to expel a coach or spectator who refuses to behave. It usually doesn't feel good to do, but it may be the right thing to do for the good of the game and the kids.
- Suspension - suspending the match may be necessary to give an expelled coach or spectator time to leave.
- Termination - if the referee expels a coach or spectator and they refuse to leave, the referee may have no choice but to terminate the match. Before doing so, the referee should clearly announce that the match is in jeopardy of being terminated.
- Often, in such cases sideline peer pressure may compel the expelled individual to leave so that the game may continue.
Depending on what the sideline comment is and how it is said, the referee may have to skip a number of these escalating steps to start with an appropriately measured response. In a future issue of Whistle Stop, we'll explore how to tell the difference between vocal disappointment and true dissent, and how to select the appropriate response to dissent based on the "Three P's": public, persistent and personal.
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November 15, 2012 Mentoring programs help women referees in your Region
A good mentoring program is vital in any Region and when managed well, it is an excellent tool for the recruitment and retention of volunteers. Every mentoring program should include all referees - veterans and rookies - and as needed, a focus and emphasis on the needs of women and youth volunteers.
Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
- Setting up clinics, workshops or pizza parties is one avenue to getting veteran referees to help launch the program.
- Team them up with retired referees and coaches.
- Mentor female-to-female when asked.
- Find out the goals of your female and youth referees.
- Nurture with positive encouragement and feedback.
- Motivate by providing appropriate challenges for every referee.
- Avoid over-scheduling.
- Protect all rookies from negative sideline behaviors; implement the AYSO Kids Zone
- Provide assessments when upgrades are requested.
Creating a positive and rewarding referee experience in your Region will allow you to reap long term benefits. Start out small and try to build on your mentoring program every year. It does not have to be an elaborate and complicated program. Actually, simple is better.
Ask some of your retired referees if they would like to mentor; maybe there is a referee who is injured for the season and really wants to stay involved. Pair them up with another referee who really needs a mentor. Youth referees are especially in need of mentors. Most of the time they just need a bit of encouragement and a few extra pointers to keep them on the right track.
Ask your female referees how they wish to be treated; most may simply want to be treated as any other referee, or some may only want to officiating a certain age division. Nurturing a volunteer's needs at the start of their "referee" career can possibly keep them committed to the Region. Investing a small amount of time to mentor them will most likely keep them coming back year after year. Ask your veterans for ideas. Keep the mentoring going!
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October 18, 2012
What is the observation needed to upgrade to Intermediate Referee?
I recently completed the Intermediate Course; I have enough games and now realize I must have an observation to complete my upgrade. My Regional Referee Administrator said he would arrange the observation. What is this? What do I need to do to pass it?
An observation is not a pass/fail situation. It is an opportunity for you to receive positive feedback from an experienced AYSO referee. An observation is designed to provide you and other referees who are upgrading to Intermediate Referee, with positive feedback that will help improve your skills. The best way to prepare for the observation is to relax, arrive early, have a good pregame discussion with your assistant referees, remember your referee mechanics and apply the Laws of the Game. Most of all enjoy the match. Also, don't schedule another game after the observation so you can spend time with the observer.
Observations are usually conducted by an AYSO assessor, but may also be conducted by a mentor selected by your Regional Referee Administrator. In either case, the objective is for the observer to watch your match and then discuss his or her observations with you.
The observer will point out your strengths and discuss, if any, a few areas you might concentrate on improving in the future. Once the observation is complete and you have received feedback from the observer, you have then met the requirement. Don't forget to bring your upgrade form so the observer can sign off on the requirement.
The observation is designed as a positive learning experience for the referee. If you are still concerned and would like a practice observation, ask your Regional Referee Administrator to arrange one for you.
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September 20, 2012
How to Maximize Your Referee Numbers
As an administrator, are you looking for an efficient way to know how many referees will be in your Region each year?
Volunteer involvement has continually declined as economic and social conditions have strained the ability for people to have the time to volunteer. As Referee Administrators, we need to insure that we are identifying and connecting with every existing referee volunteer and, more importantly, every potential new referee volunteer. Recruiting is a never ending task but referee recruitment can be more successful if you have a method in place to confirm who your new referee candidates are as well as your returning referees!
We have a method that can help you improve your ability to connect with existing and new volunteers to maximize your referee numbers. There are a few simple steps to utilizing this method to its maximum potential.
The first phase of our recruiting and retention method is identifying your existing referees using eAYSO. Here are seven simple steps to get this information:
- Make sure that you have the appropriate eAYSO access rights as the Referee Administrator from your Regional Commissioner. They will be able to grant you access in accordance with your level of responsibility.
- Once you have signed into eAYSO, click on the REPORTS menu and then select VOLUNTEER CERTIFICATIONS and then select the REFEREE discipline.
- In the center of the Referee screen, you will see two boxes. On the left are the different referee related certifications. Select each certification of U-8, AR, Basic, Intermediate, Advanced, and National and move them to the box on the right by using the arrows that are located between the boxes.
- Once this is done, you will notice that there is a number of Sort Fields that you can select. Skip past these and you will see the Report Format selection. Change that to Excel and then click on Generate Report. You will need to make sure that you allow pop-ups for this program for the report to show. Save the Excel file to a location on your computer.
- Once you have this report, you can then sort the volunteers by Membership Year (MY) and delete those from many years ago.
- eAYSO provides the basic information you will need such as name, address, phone numbers, e-mail address, and certification level. This provides you with a great start to contact the previous year referees to invite them to return, attend a returning referee event to complete their volunteer application for the new season, and update them on any law changes.
- Adding column headers that will be “Region Specific” to you will also be helpful when it comes time for scheduling. Items such as team or player affiliation, best method for contacting them, physical ability limitations, work conflicts for game days, upgrade potential, and anything else that you feel would be of a benefit. Please do not share volunteers’ personal information as it is considered private and we must protect it.
This second phase of this recruiting method will help you make sure that you are connecting with all the potential NEW referee prospects. Here are five easy steps to follow:
- Work with your Child Volunteer Protection Advocate (CVPA) as they are the ones responsible for entering new volunteers into the eAYSO system. Discuss the need with your CVPA for them to assign a job duty to the new volunteers as they are entered into the system.
- This is accomplished in eAYSO by selecting “REGION”, then “VOLUNTEER”, and then “MANAGE POSITIONS”.
- On the volunteer form, the applicant will have checked a box for the type of position that they are applying for. Every new volunteer has a default of Regional Volunteer and can have up to three different positions. Have the CVPA add REFEREE to one of these available fields.
- Once this is completed, you can generate a report by selecting REPORTS, select VOLUNTEER, and add REFEREE to the box on the right.
- These are your potential NEW referee volunteers. Use this report to call and e-mail these new prospects to personally invite them to attend a referee training event. There is not an option to generate the report as an Excel file but, but it is not needed since you will be reaching out to them individually.
This method is just one way that can help insure you can communicate to your returning referees and connect with new referee prospects to make sure that you are getting as many referees on the pitch as possible.
Remember, without a certified referee at the game, it’s just a practice!
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