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National Federation of State High School Associations. Indiana High School Athletic Association. TO CAUTION OR NOT TO CAUTION. IN A HIGH SCHOOL MATCH. Some referees are often criticized for issuing too many cautions. Some others are criticized for not issuing often enough.

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National Federation of State High School Associations

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    1. National Federation of State High School Associations

    2. Indiana High School Athletic Association


    4. Some referees are often criticized for issuing too many cautions. Some others are criticized for not issuing often enough. To be fair both criticisms at times may be correct, but probably not all the time.

    5. Much of the criticisms is based on the assumption that the referee always choose to either issue a caution, or choose not to do so. This assumption is only partially valid.

    6. Most referees learn that the decision to caution in some cases is clear cut and relies on a particular act being observed without any other judgment factors having to be applied in making that decision. These types of cautions can be described as “MANDATORY” cautions. The mere observation of a particular act requires that the caution be administered.

    7. However there are a number of instances where acts are supposed to be cautioned by the referee requires the referee to apply discretion in order to decide if the act meets the criteria described in the NFHS soccer rules book to merit a caution. These can be described as “DISCRETIONARY” cautions. Here the nature and intent of each act has to be determined as unfair and requiring the caution.

    8. Keep in mind that the two categories “MANDATORY” & “DISCRETIONARY” are not cited in the NFHS soccer rules book.

    9. These can be described as “DISCRETIONARY” cautions. Here the nature and intent of each act has to be determined as unfair and requiring the caution.

    10. Even a casual reading of the NFHS soccer rules book quickly shows that there is a difference in judgment required of the referee between “MANADTORY” & “DISCRETIONARY” cautions when particular acts of misconduct are committed.

    11. If you as the referee in a soccer match are to make the correct decision you need to think about the issues and adopt a consistent approach to handling this behavior and match control responsibility you exercise.

    12. MANDATORY CAUTIONS Using the 2009-10 NFHS Soccer Rules Book as the basis for this list you can begin to identify the two groups of acts and perhaps be able to handle them more effective and consistent way in your future matches. Rule Book examples of mandatory cautions follows.

    13. The head coach shall receive the first caution for illegally equipped player (R4-3,12-8-4). This is a situation that is most often based on what you find in your pre-game player equipment inspection. Of course on occasion you might not observe illegal equipment until sometime into the match. The rule is specific about both required and illegal equipment.

    14. Entering or leaving the field of play without permission of an official (R12-8-1-A). Such an act can be observed by any of the referee team. The exception of course is through the normal course of play.

    15. Any incidental vulgar or profane language (R12-8-1-D) Here the judgment is primarily on the word incidental and the language must be heard to be punished.

    16. Any use of video or audio communication by players or other persons to assist in coaching during the match (R12-8-1-E). Again this an act that can be both observed and heard. The rule defines specific devices.

    17. Coaching outside the team area (R12-8-F-1) also indicated in (R1-5-3). Coaches, bench personnel and team members shall be restricted to the team area. This is another incident based on observation; are they outside the area?

    18. Holding a shirt, shorts, etc. (R12-8-1-F3). If seen it is to be penalized. This unfair act is becoming more and more frequently observed in matches. Unless a clear advantage is observed , it should be dealt with strictly.

    19. Encroachment (R12-8-1-F5). Ten yards is Ten yards. The successful referee must learn to enforce this distance rigidly in order not to encourage unfair interference with play by the offending team.

    20. Use of tobacco products by participants (R12-8-1G). This is one of the strict policies of NFHS for all interscholastic sports.

    21. When you consider that all of the previous act require a “mandatory” caution can be observed or heard by the referee. Consistently enforcing and penalizing with the necessary caution should come more easily to the referee. The more consistently enforced, the better the match control result.

    22. DISCRETIONARY CAUTIONS Now we consider the “discretionary” cautions. The next acts requiring caution do involve applying some degree of judgment by the referee determining that they meet the intended criteria of misconduct specified in the rules.

    23. In each of these cases, if your match control results are not consistently positive in applying your power to caution, it’s probably because you need to better understand the subjective criteria you need to apply in judging whether or not each of these acts are to be cautioned.

    24. Persistent infringement of any of the rules of the game (R12-8-1-B). Here the basic judgment question is how many times are enough to be persistent. There are many approaches to making good judgments. Be wise enough to ask for help in defining and recognizing persistent infringement if you need it.

    25. Dissent – objecting by word or action to any decision a referee makes during a match (R12-8-1-C). This is probably one of most common types of misconduct and also one that is least attended to by referees. When not handled properly it does have a very negative effect on match control and player behavior. Because once a player gets away with dissent other quickly learn to try the same misconduct. Be particularly sensitive to this act.

    26. Unnecessary delay – Kicking, throwing the ball away or obstructing on a free kick.(R12-8-3-F3). This act involves unfair time wasting , the match suffers if not controlled.

    27. Deliberate verbal tactics (R12-8-3-F4). These may include verbally baiting an opponent , negative interference by calling for a pass when not involved in play or when no where near play. Negative or interfering comments to opponents from the opposing bench, etc.

    28. Deliberate handling to stop an attack (R12-8-3-F6). This involves the judgment of when a developing attack is negated by an unfair, deliberate, intentional act of handling.

    29. Deliberate Tactical Foul (R12-8-3-F7). Most often a non-violent, non serious foul against an opponent to take the opponent out of a play.

    30. Faking an injury (R12-8-3-F8). This unfair tactic is often missed by the referee team and is not always easy to recognized. Many of us have witnessed an apparently injured player suddenly and miraculously recover after play is stopped or after the opposing team is unfairly penalized for a foul.

    31. Simulating a foul (R12-8-3-F9). This unfair act is usually referred to as “taking a dive” in order to get an incorrect call by the referee in favor of the simulator.

    32. The coach may be cautioned either for team misconduct or for bench misconduct that cannot be attributed to a specific individual (R12-8-4B). One example is when the coach fails to stop bench personnel from dissenting or making negative remarks that interfere with the match and individuals cannot be correctly identified.

    33. Keep in mind again that the two categories “mandatory” and “discretionary” are not sited in the NFHS Soccer Rules Book. All reasons for caution cited in the rules can be said to be mandatory, in that the referee is required to penalize any participant who commits any of these.

    34. However as most of us know deciding whether or not an act of misconduct has occurred is not always a cut and dry situation, especially in the discretionary category. By categorizing and studying the list of caution offenses in the rules into mandatory and discretionary groups, a referee can perhaps find it easier to recognize each instance when the caution should be effectively invoked as a behavior technique.

    35. A referee can also pursue finding out how better to judge the more difficult caution offenses by asking for or getting decision making guidance from your NFHS rule interpreter , clinician, assessor, mentor or referee colleagues. Also take the opportunity to discuss other approaches in handling caution offenses in a match during a regular NFHS soccer referee meeting.