HOW TO READ A GAME
Once a referee reaches the point where he/she knows the Laws of the Game well and has learned effective mechanics, what comes next to improve his/her game and advance his/her career? There is more to refereeing soccer at a higher level than just running around calling fouls and the ball out of bounds. Effective game control becomes the next level of expertise to master. This is an especially important skill for the referee in upper‑level youth, high school, NCAA, adult amateur and professional play.
But what does “reading” mean? How does a referee read the game to gain better control?
One factor the referee should realize early on in a game is what kinds of tactics are the teams using? Does one team use a slow build‑up depending on using many short passes to advance? Are the opponents using quick counter‑attacks with long passes to advance? Cautioning players committing fouls to break up promising attacks may be necessary to take this problem out of the game. The referee must differentiate careless fouls between two players in a specific moment and tactical fouls that are part of a coordinated effort to neutralize the other team’s style of play. Some tactical fouls may be subtle or dramatic. When fouls have a purpose there is a meaning that the referee must identify and punish to show the teams they must not continue.