Information and tips for coaches of second and third grade intramural teams from Jeff Brenner, referee and head of intramural referee training and mentoring

First, let me thank all of your for undertaking this task. With all you have to do, you may not realize that first coaches do a lot to shape the attitudes of both players and parents toward many aspects of the game. I will primarily address referee-related issues on this page.

Most of the young people you will have as referees have had a 2-hour training session with me – not nearly enough to teach them what they need to know to become reasonably competent refs. Like the players learn about the game through playing in ‘real’ games, the young refs need the experience these games provide in order to start on the path toward becoming capable refs.

Your refs are told they need to be teachers as much as refs. Feel free to check other documents at this area of the NGS website to read some of the basics of how they are asked to approach these games – quite a few things are different from older kid soccer. You will (or at least you should!) see and hear them giving modest instruction here and there, hopefully without undue disruption to the flow of the game. At the same time, their job is not to compensate for players’ mistakes. If goal kicks keep getting popped right in front of the goal, some of them are bound to result in goals coming right back at them. Assuming the kick was ‘legal’, refs can’t do much about this. In this case we hope the game will teach players that ‘off to the side’ is a better choice.

You will witness all kinds of mistakes by refs – just like we see mistakes by players. These refs need to be given the same respect, support and encouragement we give our players or any young person learning a new and difficult skill. Please report any concerns you have directly to me – Jeff Brenner – but treat the refs with respect. Your players and their parents will learn from the words and behavior they hear and see from you in this area. If the coach is frequently criticizing, they will assume this is appropriate – after all, we see it enough on TV.

There are some simple things you can do to help make things go more smoothly:

  • Support the ref in her efforts to enforce rules about safe equipment. This is the best way to get players and parents to learn what is and isn’t allowed.
  • Be clear and loud when you wish to make a substitution. The refs can easily get overwhelmed and don’t always look over when they should.
  • Please have your players ready to start at the start time. Fields are tightly scheduled. Don’t expect 10 minutes of warm-up for a 1:00 game if your team doesn’t arrive until 1:00. That’s unfair to dozens of people on that field later that day.
  • Please be at the field you’re supposed to be at. Otherwise, it is impossible to properly track down any ref issues or coach issues that might require attention. Don’t grab a field just because it happens to be convenient to your car or involves less moving of goals. That stuff is quite trivial and evens out in the long run anyway. Every field is clearly noted on the website. Knowing which field is which will help both your own team and every other person wandering around looking for ‘The Pelicans’.
  • Keep your sense of humor and things will usually go just fine. Get used to plenty of mistakes by your players. That way when a player does something right you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

I’ll end by answering the #1 ref-related concern voiced by coaches of our youngest players: ‘I know – I’m always after them to try and get them to blow the whistle louder.’