The short answer is “absolutely”, but since it took a couple years to become convinced of that as a coach myself, let me tell you why I eventually came to that conclusion.
The biggest barrier is the six-hour course on a weekend. For that kind of time investment I expect a big benefit. Now, I already thought I knew the game well enough–I was actually a youth referee. For the rest of this article I will be addressing coaches in the same situation that already know the game fairly well. But, if you are new to the game of soccer, let me be plain:
There is NO better way to learn the game and be competent in your role as coach than to take the referee course. The single easiest way to gain credibility and respect with parents is simply to know the laws of the game and be able to articulate them to players and others when needed (and you will need to). Every season I come across a coach yelling at a ref or coaching a player about a rule they clearly don’t understand, and I am embarrassed for them because I know there are a handful of knowledgeable parents hearing that and losing a lot of confidence in their coach. Don’t be that guy/gal!
If you’re new to the game of soccer and the above doesn’t convince you I don’t know what will. But here are some additional benefits that apply to everyone, even if you know a lot about the game.
- You don’t know what you don’t know – You may know a LOT, but you likely don’t know as much as you think you do. I was a youth ref, I had been coaching for many seasons, and I watch it on TV. You’d think I’d know it all. There are so many nuances to the game once you get to U10 (with offside, PDIs, etc) that unless you understand how the laws are designed, there will be edge cases you simply won’t understand
- Tactical advantages – Knowing the laws give you tactical advantages as a coach. Knowing you can take a direct free kick right away, knowing you can’t become offside once the ball is played to you, knowing you can’t be offside on a throwin are some of many examples where you can give your team an advantage on the field
- Credibility – As shown above, you can gain a lot of credibility when you know the laws. Though you should never have parents shouting out about calls, you will hear conversations on the sideline where there is confusion about a call. Being able to clearly articulate the law to your sideline saves everyone a lot of frustration
Up to this point I have simply laid out the reasons to take the course, not necessarily to actually referee games. And if all you do is simply take the course, you will find that benefits you every single season now and into perpetuity.
However, I strongly encourage you to at a minimum try refereeing a few games your first season:
- It makes the information from the course “stick”
- You will gain an incredible amount of empathy for referees in your games, and as such you become a coach that referees LIKE doing games for
- If your games are always covered, that makes LESS WORK for you during your season
- You will make some great relationships with other refs
- It’s simply the right thing to do. We are a volunteer led organization and even though you are doing more than your share by coaching, you ultimately help the organization you are benefitting from
And who knows, at the end of the day you might actually LIKE IT 😉
To get started, go here.