Friday, May 22, 2015

Your Goal This Summer ... Learn Law 11!

I like Law 11, also known as the "offside" rule.  It reminds you that people are actually watching the game.

You know the scenario.  It happens every time.

A pass is made.  The flag goes up.  The whistle blows.  Supporters of the offending team will collectively proclaim "Ah ref ... there's NO WAY that was offside".  If the flag doesn't go up, the defending team will be supported by claims of a missed offside or a blind referee (or both).

Let's start with some education:

First, your players.

If you ever want to teach proper positioning of your defenders or improve the runs and timing of penetrating passes on the attack, you MUST fully educate your team on Law 11.  You must first understand it yourself.  Your players should be able to answer "what if" scenarios and hints that somebody is or will be off side.
"Law 11 is NOT a moving blue line."
If your defenders understands offside, it's easier to get them to move out when you gain possession. If your forwards understands offside, it's easier to teach your strikers to come back when losing possession and not kill a possible counterattack for their teammates.

You must be an expert in Law 11 and it must be part of your small side games at training and be enforced.

Now, your parents.

I tell those crying foul that unless you are on the touch line, square to the second last defender and you are watching the player who is making the forward pass, you can't accurately claim to be in a position to call offside.  Oh, and you need to understand Law 11 as well.  Most spectators in their seats fail to meet all four criteria.

Give your parents a quickie lesson on offside and links to resources.  Maybe let a few of them try calling offside during your small sided games at training.

You also need to admit a few things as a parent or coach:
  • EVERY goal against you is NOT offside.
  • EVERY offside call against you is NOT wrong.
  • For us in Canada, who can't let go of hockey, Law 11 is NOT a "moving blue line"
Law 11 is probably my biggest complaint with respect to officials on three fronts:
  • An Assistant Referee who does not position themselves properly with the second last defender to call offside
  • An officiating crew who know it's easier to call offside and take a little bit of grief compared to the grief they get if a goal results from allowing a play to continue.
  • At least once/year, I catch an AR who misses a play where the goalkeeper advances past the last field player and a ball is played behind them to an attacker that results in a goal.  (there are no longer 2 defending players between the last attacker and the goal line).   The look on their face tells me they know I'm right.  And they don't admit it :)  I like being right.  

In summary, knowing Law 11 makes you a smarter spectator.  Knowing, teaching and implementing Law 11 in training makes you a better coach.  Understanding Law 11 makes you a better player.

P.S.  there should be a documentary revolving around that special moment when the two Assistant Referees work out who is going to patrol the side the parents are on.  You always have that group of four or five dads (one probably sporting a fake accent of some sort, another wearing a track suit that doesn't fit properly and a third with way too much jewelry) who second guess every offside situation.  This all happening as the AR tracks the play while the experts stand in one spot.