Al Gray's advice to new Assistant Referees
Important things for an AR to remember and to focus on
- Look like a referee. Wear the full uniform - shorts, shirts and socks. And have the shirt tucked in. If you do not look like a referee that is the way you will be treated by the players and coaches.
- The single most important thing for an AR to remember is to always stay even with the last defender in your side of the field (not counting the goal keeper). This sounds easy but it really isn't. It is very easy to get caught up in the flow of the game and lose sight of where that last defender is. Youmust stay even in order to be in proper position to make the off sides call.
- When making the off sides call you must make it immediately and emphatically so that the center ref can see it and call it. If you hesitate and the play continues on, it may be too late for the center ref to blow the whistle.
- When making any call, whether off sides or ball out of bounds, make the call with confidence and make it immediately and without hesitation. There will be times when you are not sure about who the ball went off of - happens all the time. Make the call the way you see it and make it as if there is no doubt at all in your mind. If you hesitate the players and coaches will question your reffing ability. There is no instant replay in these games - if you make the call with confidence the players, coaches and fans will feel that you are correct.
- Do not worry about the ball. Many times the ball goes out of bounds near where you are. It should not be your concern. Your job is to make the call. Let the ball go and let the players go get it. Not your responsibility.
- Learn and use the proper mechanics when making a call. When the ball goes out of bounds, your flag should first go straight up to let the center ref know it is out of bounds, then you signal which direction the throw in is going by holding your flag at a 45 degree angle upward in that direction. The flag should be in the hand of the direction of the throw in - do not cross your body to show the direction. And bring your body to a stop when you do this - do not do it while you are moving.
- Make sure the ball is completely over the sideline before you make the call. Many times it is obvious that the ball is going out and I have seen ARs make the call before it crosses the line - not good practice. The ball must be completely over the line before you put the flag up.
- Concentrate and stay focused on the game. If you start day dreaming that is when something will happen and you will miss it. Stay focused on the game and your responsibility.
- In your spare time, do not be afraid to refer back to the referee handbooks you will have used to become certified. The best experienced referees do this constantly to remind themselves of the simple things they need to remember. And if after a game (or at halftime) you have questions, be sure to ask the center referee to explain.