Before you yell at your child’s referee, remember these five things!

Youth soccer referees have one of the most thankless jobs in our community.  So often, no individual is liked least by both sets of parents, players, and coaches – both during, and after a contest. Yet, they are integral to the enjoyment of youth soccer, and sanctioned games could not occur without them.

The task to make the game safe and fair can be monumental, and feel like a no-win situation, but it is a vital role. So, instead of hurling insults at a young match referee because we are on the other side of one call during the course of a game (thereby irritating the referee and guaranteeing his guard is now up even where no bias existed beforehand), how about we try supporting and encouraging them to just continue to try and get it right!  Besides, as most of us in the sport who have played the game and begged, pleaded, yelled, and groveled over referee’s decisions to no avail already know, referees very seldom change their mind.  So, let’s try and provide our referees the respect they deserve by remembering a few things:

Youth soccer referees are often not paid professionals and are generally doing this for the love of the game on a low wage or volunteer basis.

If they do not feel safe or find the role too stressful, we soon may not have enough of them.

Most youth soccer referees are often learning their role in the game, just like your child.

Often, youth games are assigned youth or inexperienced referees.  Making decisions in real time while the game moves quickly can be challenging even for experienced referees. Especially if you’ve been assigned a young referee, please treat them as you would hope parents would treat your adolescent son or daughter in the same position.

Yelling at the referees creates more stress for your child and their teammates.

Children who find the experience of youth sports too stressful are those that are far more likely to quit or burn out prematurely. Getting yourself tossed from the sideline of your child’s youth soccer game can permanently emotionally scar and embarrass your young player.

No one is perfect and we all make mistakes, even you.

Yep, you’re right, referees sometimes make wrong decisions.  But even you probably didn’t know there was no offside in your own half, on a goal kick, or a throw in when you started out, right?  Let’s use these moments as life lessons and teach our youth to move on, even when things that should go our way, don’t. Refereeing is hard, and we need to be supportive of those providing this service, even if it is at times imperfect.

Yelling at the referees does not send the right message to your young player.

Sport is a great way to teach our children how to be good people.  It is filled with wonderful opportunities for teaching moments and provides so many basis for teaching life lessons. Learning respect for authority is certainly one of those. Do not model disrespectful conduct.


For more information about the first four titles of LearnSport Books’ iplaysoccer! series in our on-line book store, click here.