Your Pre-Game Conference with Assistant Referees


Pre-Match Conference

Center Referees, this is your chance to let your “team” of fellow Match Officials know what will help you make this match go smoothly. Of course, the three of you are going to work together, each member of the team carrying equal weight, but this is when you let them know what works best for you as the CR. That said, this is an equal-opportunity conference so everybody (including AR’s) should feel free to exchange ideas, comments or questions.

As a new Center Referee, you may feel a little stage-freight or even “unworthy” when you find yourself as the CR working with AR’s that might have dozens (or even hundreds) of games under their belt…DON’T!!  You can learn, and so can even the most seasoned referee.

And as the season goes on, when everybody seems to think they know what the CR is expecting, sometimes we don’t put enough weight on the import of this pre-match conference…Don’t do this either!!

Center Referee: What do you need?

There are a handful of important things to cover during the pre-match conference. The more games you do, the more obvious some of these will become. Everybody performs their CR role differently, and “important things” will differ from person to person. This is one of the reasons why every pre-match conference can be a learning opportunity—so come prepared to instruct as well as to learn! Below you will find the things that I find helpful to briefly cover. You may want to create your own little cheat-sheet so you are sure to cover everything that’s important to you:


  • Standard Signals per LOTG—make them clearly (CK, GK, TI, OS, Foul)
  • “Unofficial Signals”—still in play, no foul, no OS
  • The Diagonal—standard “left diagonal” (or not)
  • General positioning during play—even with 2nd to last defender or the ball, whichever is closest to Goal Line
  • Duration/Timekeeping Back-up—confirm duration, 2 equal halves of x-minutes; who will back you up on keeping time?
  • “Primary AR”—who will take over in case CR drops with an injury
  • Goal/No Goal Situations and how you want them signalled—simple goal, no goal, unclear goal, CR gets it wrong/no goal
  • Offside Offences—Wait, don’t raise flag until clearly involved in active play
  • Fouls—how do you like to let them play? Tight? Physical?
    • Fouls in AR quadrant ?—signal
    • Fouls CR doesn’t see and would have called—signal
    • DFK in PA (it’s a PK!!!)—how AR should signal for this
    • DFK outside PA—how AR should signal for this
    • Foul deserves YC? or RC? –AR signal to show his/her opinion subtly
  • Positioning–where you want your AR’s for the following scenarios and proper signalling
    • FK’s close to PA
    • PK’s—Goal? No goal? GK Encroach?
  • Restarts
    • TI you watch feet, I’ll watch hands
    • GK watch for encroachment of attackers, ball leaves PA!
    • CK watch for 10 yds (min dist.); short corners?
  • “Things You (I) Like to See”
    • Hustle, square to field; snappy signals
    • Very frequent Eye Contact when ball goes OOP
    • Eye Contact before signaling direction of restart
    • Keep level with 2nd to last defender or ball
    • Follow ball all the way to goal line for Goal/NoGoal; Hustle
    • Protect the goalkeeper—call fouls
    • Trail AR “mirroring” signals
    • Keep your TouchLines clean–how to handle unruly coaches/spectators
    • Stay professional, don’t discuss calls with TO’s




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