Pregame preparations for the referee are important to being able to call a good game.

Checking the Field
  • Check the field and the nets.
  • Make sure the nets are set up properly and anchored well enough on top and on the sides so you'll know when a ball gets into the goal.
  • Check the field for holes, debris, and other irregularities. If your game is the first of the day on a field and there is a lot of debris to collect, ask the coaches to see whether their team or their team parents can help.

Introductions and Collecting Fees

Referees must meet coaches and collect fees before each game.

  • The referees should go together and introduce themselves to each coach.
  • Determine who is the home team (this team should provide the game ball).
  • One referee should accept the fee from the first coach, and the other referee should accept the fee from the second coach. Do not start the game until both fees are collected.

Checking in the Players

In SAY East we usually call both teams to the centerline to check their equipment.

  • Referees should welcome the players and introduce themselves to the players.
  • Check to see that all players have appropriate shoes (no sharp cleats or toe cleats).
  • Check to see that all players have shinguards.
  • Check to see that players are not wearing jewelry, watches, hard hair pieces, or hard casts (even padded) of any kind.
  • Check to see that players are not chewing gum.
  • Remind the players to play for fun and listen to the referees.
  • Ask the captains to stay for the coin toss and dismiss the rest of the players.

The Coin Toss

Each team will send out one, two, or sometimes three captains.

  • Make sure the captains know which team is the home team and which team is the visitor team.
  • Have the visitor team select someone to call the toss.
  • Toss the coin, and have the call occur while the coin is in the air. (Most refs let it land on the ground.)
  • If the visitor team wins the toss, they get to pick the end of the field they will defend, and the home team will kick off. If the visitor team does not win the toss, the home team picks the end of the field they will defend and the visitor team will kick off. (Make sure you write this down or remember it so you know who goes where with the next kickoff.
  • Send the captians back to tell their coaches and teams the outcome of the toss.
  • As soon as the players are ready, start the game.

Referee Pregame Conference

Here are some things to do in your pregame conference together.

  1. If you've not worked together before, make sure you talk about how much experience each of you has had reffing at various levels.
  2. If you have worked together before, ask each other what you might need to do (or not do) to improve on your performance from last time. (This is not to give each other a hard time... this is about working to be better refs.)
  3. Go over Lead and Trail expectations. (Each referee is responsible for one endline and one touchline. Lead referee is moving with the play on his or her end of the field, and is generally responsible for goals and offsides at that end. Trail referee watches for fouls and throwins on the opposite side from the lead referee. Roles switch when play moves to the other end of the field.)
  4. Go over mechanics and techniques, especially for goal kicks, corner kicks, direct and indirect kicks near the goal, and substitutions.
  5. Pick the primary and backup timekeeper.
  6. Discuss the expected performances of the teams and how tightly you will call pushes, trips, and unfair charges.