Don’t Short-Change the Offense
Deny the Defensive Delay on Restarts
When you blow the whistle for a foul the only additional information the players need is the direction of the restart.
When the foul is close to goal, the defenders will want to set up a wall and delay the free kick until they are ready.
The defense has a right to set up a wall but they have no right to delay the restart.
At that moment, the defense has no rights and MUST give the attacking team 10 yards from the spot of the foul.
The offense is entitled to the 10 yards but they only get it, if they want it.
Don’t listen to the coach or goalkeeper, listen to the players closest to the spot of the foul who might want to take a quick kick if they see an opportunity.
In the meantime, the defense will do everything it can to delay the restart until they feel they are ready to defend the attack.
It is the referee’s job to make sure that the defense does not control the kick and gets extra time. The attackers have been wronged once and to allow the defense to have its way would be another wrong.
What is the referee to do? The play has been blown dead, the direction of the kick has been indicated. The referee needs to be close enough to the spot of the foul to be in control. Do not let the defense handle the ball. If the defense makes a move to interfere with the restart, it is a good time for a caution. You must let everyone know what your requirements are.
There are tricks that teams will attempt to try to delay the restart. They might pick up the ball and hold it or bring it to the other team or referee (who should rarely handle the ball) SLOWLY. If a warning does not stop them, a caution may.
Other tactics may be to kick the ball a few yards away, stand in front of the ball and tie their shoes or fake an injury. There is also the traffic cop who stands in front of or behind the ball and directs the wall. Watch for the player who comes running in from yards away and just happens to pass within a yard or so of the ball to disrupt the kick.
A recent tactic is to argue the call in order to distract the referee so that he/she cannot get things moving swiftly. This is pure gamesmanship and you need to be aware of it.
The referee needs to be aware and in control of his/her mechanics.
Did you become a helper in delaying the restart? Did you require a second whistle if the attacking team was ready to take a quick kick? Did you pace off the 10 yards instead of quickly moving to the 10 yards and asking the wall to move?
Those issues go beyond getting the free kicks taken, it goes to game control.
Players who are shortchanged while taking a free kick get frustrated and will try to take control of the restart themselves, which can lead to loss of control and fights because referees have not handled free kicks properly.
The administration at all levels wants fewer instances of delaying the restart while coaches practices techniques to delay restarts and reduce scoring chances against their team. Referees need to simply enforce the rules.
Pat Ferre: USSF Referee Grade 15 Emeritus. USSF Referee Instructor, USSF Referee Assessor,USSF Referee Assignor, District-7 Youth Referee Administrator (DYRA)
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