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Welcome Coaches!
The Coaches Club is designed to help us achieve a better level of consistency. When you
pose a question to an Official or Staff, there's a good chance that others may have a
similar question or concern. Instead of relying on word of mouth to "hopefully" get that
information to all Coaches, we'll share it here for all Coaches to review. 
Of course, we can only post about issues we're aware of, so please, feel free share with
us, so we can share it with others. We'll even try to make it entertaining ... when possible! 
This Weeks Articles
Referees are NOT Equalizers
Referees are there to enforce the rules, ensure safety, and manage the game.
They are not there to level the playing field!!!!!

We often see the expectations of Coaches and Parental Units, for Referees to
compensate for imbalances in age and/or skill levels. Not only is that not their job, it
would be irresponsible for them to do so.

Now, that's not to say that Referees shouldn't Referee the game according to the age
and skill level. In fact, we do just that. If we didn't, the game would be loaded with
game choking, excessive calls, that would turn games into a PE class .... boring!!!!!

We want to let the kids play, but we are not going to award fouls, just because Nemo
collided with Bruce the shark, and fell down. (Yes, I watched it ... and I liked it!!!)

Soccer is a contact sport, and the divisions are pretty well defined and consistent.
Some kids are bigger and stronger. There are going to be respective mismatches.
It's a part of the game, and quite frankly, part of life. This is where they learn to
cope with and overcome it, in a safe environment. To take away this lesson, would
take away valuable character building experience, that prepares children for Real Life.

Referees will call the calls that need to be called, but they're not going to make calls
that punish kids for being bigger, stronger, or more skillful. That would be wrong.

Besides, you'll feel quite differently, when your kid is bigger, stronger, and posses
a higher skill level.
Hand Shake - Games not over, until hands are shook
One of, if not the most important thing a Coach teaches kids is; Good Sportsmanship!
They'll take that with them for the rest of their life. Any Coach that does not build that
Good Sportsmanship attitude into their kids, has done them a critical disservice.

Remember, they are watching ... they are imitating, and you are helping to form a
foundation for how to be a responsible and successful adult. That's the long term
power a Coach has in the life of a child.

We had a couple Coaches refuse to shake hands after their game. Worse yet,
they instructed their players to NOT shake hands. This is the most blatant exercise in
poor sportspersonlike conduct, and it is not the example we want set for our kids. In
fact, it is grounds for a forfeit, but it's usually the losing team that refuses, so the
forfeit becomes a moot point. Any Coach that encourages this unacceptable practice,
especially with kids, is certainly deserving of a suspension.         
Sports are supposed to be competitive on the field, and it's understandable if there's
no love lost on the battle field, but it should never go beyond that. Once the game has
concluded, win, lose or draw, we must congratulate the efforts of both sides, void of
any nasty jabs. Remember, off the field, we're friends, neighbors, etc. We don't need
to foster negative attitudes, that will carry beyond the game.

In the end, it's a game, and if you don't like the end result, then prepare
yourselves better, or try harder for the next competition. Don't demean yourselves
with sour grapes temper tantrums. 

Good sportsmanship is more important than any game, and Good Sportsmanship is
the minimum requirement for everybody, Coaches, Players, and Spectators alike.
Without it, nobody would want to play.
Handshake & Referees Presence
At the end of the game, we all shake hands and say "Good Game!". It's more that just
a ritual. It teaches kids respect and Good Sportsmanship. 

A Coach was under the impression that; the Referee was required be present  for the
After Game Hand Shake. He was upset that; after a very intense, conflict rich game,
the Official left the field ... immediately! (wouldn't you?) In this case, the Referee was
absolutely, 100% correct in his decision to vacate, due to the tension throughout the

While I do like to be present during the Hand Shake, to monitor& insure that it is done
in the "spirit" intended, this is my personal preference, and I happen to be very, very
comfortable doing it. In fact, I find it an excellent opportunity to address concerns that
may linger at the conclusion of the game. That's me though, and though I encourage
our Officials to participate in the same manner, it's not mandatory. 

The truth be known, Referees at all levels, are trained to leave immediately after the
match, as a proactive safety measure, to avoid unnecessary conflict and/or never
ending, heated opinion exchanges. 

We live in a crazy world, and Soccer is notorious for over the top passion insanity,
often with the Referees as the target of unbridled emotions. Referees don't need to
invite or encourage such ... passionate exchanges. If the Referee is comfortable
staying, cool. If not, it's actually proper protocol, and in most cases ... just plain wise.
Red Cards
When a Player is issued a Red Card, that Player is to leave the field. They are expelled.
That means "Out of Sight & Earshot" of the game, not on the bench, in the stands, or
behind the field coaching or berating. They are to take no further part in the game, in
any way, shape or form. They are also suspended from the next game.         
As a general rule, Red Cards are issued as a result of utterly disrespectful or violent 
behavior. The consequence of receiving a card, is designed to discourage such
behavior. In most cases, a Card recipient is not happy with the consequence they've
earned, and are highly prone to retaliation. For this reason, again, being proactive,
Red Card recipients and/or any Ejected Participants are to leave the premises within
2 minutes, or forfeit the game.

Remember ... Cards are not given ... they are earned, and they have consequences.
It's best not to earn one.
Past Articles
First Week ... Awesome!
This being our first week working with Oakland Park, we didn't really know
what to expect, on any level. Would it be FUN & CRAZY, or just plain CRAZY?
(Trust me. We do games all over the county, and some can be pretty bizarre)
We were pleasantly surprised with the positive, supportive atmosphere and 
sportsmanship we experienced. The games were played well and fun to
Officiate. Kudos!!!!! The City Staff has also been very accommodating, and we're
HAPPPY to be working with you. Hopefully you're just as HAPPY with us, as that
is our goal. Of course, we want you to be HAPPY, but that doesn't change the
calls we'll make.
Special Rules
>Headers are allowed in all divisions
>Referees can allow a quick water break in the middle of halves
>If a team is short of "Fielded Players", the opposing team must reduce their
  Fielded Players to match. There must be an equal number of Fielded Players
  for both teams. 

We're always observing and looking for ways to provide a better experience.
One thing we noticed, is the kids getting a bit pooped out towards the end of
the half, especially if they are short Players. This observation led us to ask for
permission to give a QUICK Water Break, when we see the need, in the middle
of the halves. Permission granted.

We also had a couple of issues, unique to Oakland Park, that we're not
accustomed to, but will be corrected moving forward. We do apologize for any
resulting delays or impact on your games. The good news, both teams were
under the same ruling(s), so it was at least fair.

One such issue was the new Intentional Header Rule, instituted by USSF, the
primary Soccer authority in the US, prohibiting players under 14 years old from
intentionally heading the ball. This rule is heavily debated and considered silly by
us soccer freaks, but it was added with honorable intentions. While we discussed
this in the Coaches Meeting and the decision was made to allow Headers in all
divisions, I somehow failed to get that exclusion to my Referees, and for that,
I apologize. Some of our Officials enforced it in some of your games, because
they are so used to it. Even I had to "catch myself", as I instinctively was
inclined to call it. We will not be enforcing this rule going forward, however, we
may accidentally make this call from time to time. Please be understanding if we
do, remind the Official, and we'll restart play with a drop ball.

Another such rule that we are unaccustomed to is; the Reduce & Equate
courtesy Rule, which is exclusive to Oakland Park. Ordinarily, this procedure is
only implemented for OverTime play, so it is a little awkward for us. In Oakland
Park, it's from the start of the game, even during regulation play.

The rule simply states that; each team must have an equal number of Players
on the field. Should one have insufficient Players to field a full team, their
opponents shall reduce their number of Fielded Players to match. I spoke to
a couple of Coaches that thought it wasn't fair or appropriate, but the majority
support it, as does the City, to allow for a better kids experience.
Players generally don't bother to do Throw-Ins right, either because they weren't 
taught or because we don't enforce it as strictly as we should. Heck, I've done Men's &
Women's Leagues where half the Players don't know how to or do proper Throw-Ins.

While it is taught in official training, to not make a big deal of Throw-Ins, that doesn't mean
we simply allow atrocious Throw-Ins to slide. A Throw-In is nothing more than a means of
restarting play. It should not allow any advantage from the use of hands. 

A proper Throw-In requires the ball to be thrown in one continuous motion, from directly
behind the head. That means NO SPIKING. Both hands should be on the opposing sides of
the ball. Players should never be allowed to get a hand underneath the ball to throw it like a
basketball or baseball. They cannot twist their bodies to get additional leverage underneath
either. That gives them a power advantage, which is negated by having both hands on 
opposing sides of the ball. The ball is to be thrown directly onto the field. Both feet MUST
be on the ground at the release of the ball, and the Thrower must be facing the field, not
the corner flag.  

One of the telltale signs of an illegal Throw-In, is excessive spin on the ball. Now, we don't
want to go bananas on ball spin! Years ago, we had a Referee that called every single ball
that had even the slightest spin on it, an Illegal Throw-In. Talk about CHOKING Games!!!!
Well, the Coaches asked for it, but didn't like it one bit. They immediately called me,
apologized, and asked that I never send that Ref again. They asked me to put it back where
it was. 

If you see excessive spin on the ball, twisting, spiking, or any of the other things we've
covered, call it. If it's just a case of them not knowing, and you want to be a good sport and
give them a do-over ... I don't have a problem with that, as long as you show them how to
do it right. If after you've shown them, they continue to do it wrong ... sorry Charlie ... ball's
turned over.

If you have questions or wish to have us demonstrate the proper Throw-In Procedure,
please feel free to call me. We're happy to help.

Maybe if we help them learn it right as youth Players, we won't have to teach them in the
Adult Leagues, and maybe when they become Coaches ... they'll teach the young 
whipersnappers correctly. I said Maybe!!!!
Spectators are NOT allowed in Player Area
Coaches must be on Opposite Side of Spectators

I moseyed on over to remind a gentleman that Spectator Coaching was prohibited.
He informed me, and it was confirmed that he was a Coach, but he was on the Spectators
side. I explained that he needed to be on the other side. He cordially complied.

There are a number of really good reasons why this is not allowed. As a Coach, Before I
knew that it was prohibited, I actually had a Parental Units everywhere, coaching the kids.
We were all on the same page, and each one had their game strategy duties. It was a
powerful and effective strategy, the result of which was ... WE WERE UNSTOPPABLE!!!!!
It's just so happens that it is also completely unfair. Oooops! My Bad! Of course, once it
was passionately brought to my attention ... we quit cheating.

In the majority of cases, Spectator Coaching is not to the teams advantage, as the Parental
Units instruction, inevitably interferes with or opposes the Coaches instructions. Either way,
it's no good.

Another very important reason Players & Coaches need to be on opposing sides from the
Spectators, is the Jessica Lumsford Act regulations. Coaches are required to pass a
background check before they can "interact" with kids. Parental Units have not passed
an official background check, and must be segregated from the Players. If Parental Units
wander over into the Team Area, please remind them that it is a restricted area, and ask
them to return to their appropriate area.
We're kicking off the new season on Monday.
No articles yet, as we haven't started, and I've received no requests.
We're excited about the opportunity to work with you, and look forward
to a great season.
Good Luck to All!!!!!!!!!