Officiating in sport

The observation took place during Thursday practical training session was held on the schools Astro Turf courts. My role is to analyse Chris’ skills in officiating whilst the PE teacher filmed the session. The other students will then watch the taped sessions back in the classroom after they have refereed a match and we will then all be asked to judge each person on their individual strengths and weaknesses.

Part A – Audit Strengths and Weakness’ Ability to deal under pressure The role of the referee is to control the game using the skills that are available to him. During the first game, Chris was asked to be the referee. Although obviously feeling quite anxious about his role, Chris stood up to the task admirably. He immediately took control and was determined in his approach. By remaining close to play, Chris was able to make well-informed decisions, which the players had no choice but to adhere too.

He controlled the tempo of the game well and kept play flowing. Even though many of the players would complain a lot about the judgments given he stayed calm and all the decisions where fair and unbiased and ensured that the players were kept safe from injury. Chris remained consistent with his decisions throughout the first half, dealing successfully with pressure from both players and spectators and remained calm thorough-out. Unfortunately, during the second half the pressure finally started to get to Chris and he started loosing control of the game and listening to the players more than making his own decisions. Chris also lost track of the time and the session ran over its allotted time on the pitch. This meant that other teams did not get to play.


In the games Chris showed great knowledge in his role as referee. He was aware of rules governing fouls and illegal tackles and tried to control these from the start verbally without relying on the use of his cards. He warned players of the “foot high” rule and this maintained that the players remained free from injury. Chris used the “drop ball” method when ever possible due to the fact free kicks are hard to play on a 5 a side pitch. He also introduced a rule to ensure that players could not score a goal if they were positioned in the opposition’s area. This helped keep the game flowing and prevented goals galore being scored. This made sure both sides remained relatively happy because more play was held in the centre of the pitch. Chris’ weaknesses included limited knowledge on regulations governing throw-ins and goal kicks. This provided instances where there were arguments between players and Chris’ concentration and nervousness became evident.


Communication is another tool in which we can anticipate play. During the session, I witnessed some effective verbal communication towards the players. Chris spoke loudly and clearly and easily commanded the attention of all the players bringing them under control. Chris also demonstrated an abundance of none verbal communication. By using the stance of his body or gesturing with his arms and legs, he was able to convey directions clearly when needed.

Chris kept up with play, which allowed him to maintain verbal and non-verbal communication with the players involved in that specific run of play. He made solid eye contact with players when addressing them and waved play on when he had made valid decisions. By reading the body language of the player’s around the ball, such as the direction they were looking and the open angle of the body, Chris would have been able to have a better indication of which direction the flight of the ball was going to take. By judging the weight of the pass by the body language of the player of the ball, he would have been better equipped to determine the dropping zone of the ball or its intended target.

To read the game as a referee, you must be one step ahead of play, anticipating the next move of the phase of play before it happens.4 Initially, Chris seemed to be able to keep a level of control thorough-out the game without shouting, however as the game wore on the effectiveness of his communication began to diminish. Players began to ignore his instructions and mimic his gestures in an angry fashion when they felt the decision went against them. Chris should also in similar instances, listen to ‘the call’ from the team-mates of the player with the ball. This can often give an indication of the options available to the kicker and help read which direction they are intending to take.

Observation skills

A good referee is aware that careful thought, observation and movement is essential. During the session I was also asked to analyse Chris’ skills of observation. Some of Chris’ strengths I observed, are that he seemed to noticed the majority of fouls committed and gave the correct decisions at the correct times. The referee must at all times face the action in open play, whilst aiming to keep the maximum number of players in sight.

Facing the action is clearly necessary for good control by the referee. Chris constantly seemed aware of potential conflicts by observing these pointers, This allowed him to recognise early potential hot spots throughout the game and deal with them at speed which in turn helped him maintain a high level of control. The more players a referee can see, the better his chance of anticipating the next area of play. Chris’ observation skills ensured that he missed virtually none of the off ball action. Chris was also aware of incidents off the ball; this can prove to be something that many other referees do not look out for.

An area where Chris did let his performance falter came when the game got heated on one specific occasion and numerous players surrounded the ball so that his line of vision was limited. Chris should also aim to take up a sideway-on position to the intended dropping zone of the ball. This may mean adjusting his position at as the ball is played in order to get the greatest view of potential challenges and infringements. This also leads to accurate decisions being made and disputes over decisions being kept to a minimum.


Consistency is the key to good refereeing. 5 Being close to play gives credibility to all decisions. 6 In the lesson I witnessed Chris’ ability to keep up with the pace of play and a result he was still making correct decisions even late into the second half. He worked well as an official in the 5 a side matches but seemed to loose confidence when it came to an 11 a side match. He seemed to loose focus and control and made a few wrong decisions. However, his decisions did remain impartial throughout and the level of consistency was maintained. Once a decision was made, Chris would not swayed by the players or spectators. Researchers analyzed more than 2,600 top English soccer matches from 1996 to 2003 and found that referees gave more penalties in the form of yellow and red cards to players of the away team. Yellow cards are used to caution players of misconduct, while red cards send them off the field.7

Chris kept his nerve and went with his instinct, which 90% of the time was usually right and resulted in the correct decision being made. I think the players liked this and enjoyed the game due to the fact they knew he was remaining impartial and that his decisions maintained their safety was paramount at all times. The referee’s intention should be that decisions made at the end of the match are as accurate and as credible as those made at the beginning.

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