Referee positioning

I have watched many games in the past months and I have seen some positioning errors on the part of referees. While referees may not be completely at fault due to misinformation from assessors, I can assure you that the advice below will help you in your decision making.

  1. Be close to play. The further you are, the more difficult to judge a decision/challenge.
  2. Do not go where you are told to go all the time. I have seen many referees take an extreme wide position when the ball is in the penalty area. To put this into context, if the field is 80 yards wide and you are near the touch line and the ball is in the middle of the penalty area, you are close to 40 yards away from play, which is too far.
  3. Do not go deep just because you are told. The deeper you are into the penalty area can only put you out of position for the next stage of play. Go deep only if you need to. When is that?
    1. A difficult challenge on the GK.
    2. Mayhem between the players.
    3. A hard challenge when players take offense.
  4. Have an angle to see. Referees are sometime told to stay on the diagonal. The diagonal is only a guide, it is not gospel. Referees may need to take an unorthodox position to have a better angle.
  5. It is OK to take such position, but do not make a habit of it.
  6. Referees need to “move”. Have some mobility. Walking is only good at certain times. Anticipate play and read the game. Know where the ball should be going. Read the players body language. Which way are they facing with the ball? Most likely they will play the way they are facing, but always be prepared to move.
  7. Over the next few weeks, there will be diagrams on certain positions for the referee to take on certain plays. Again, this is a guide as the play in the game is constantly changing.
  8. Let’s start off with the “basic” diagram and each week we will show a different position. This is something we presented when I was with US Soccer as Director of Referee Development and is relevant today. These are various “outlets” the referee needs to take when moving into a better position. Wherever the ball is, the referee needs to be in the other “outlet” either to the left or right of where the ball is. His way, the referee is close and has an angle to see.