Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Offside Rule

One curious thing I've noticed is how often we know so little about what we do.

The past month I've been helping out coaching the kid soccer (U-8) team on which a friend's son plays defense. I don't pretend to be a good coach of the game in general but I do know goalkeeping and defense tactics, so I've been helping out with the 'keepers. Goaltending is tenuous at the kid level - it requires a level of concentration you just don't have at seven or eight. I'm pleased when my little goalies just remember to focus on stopping shots, never mind the game tactics.But as a bye-the-bye I tend to get volunteered to run the line at the kiddo games.

Linesman (I despise the "referee's assistant" term that FIFA now insists on. You judge the sideline, you're a linesman) is really a simple job about 95% of the time. You watch the play and assess who was last in contact with the ball when it goes into touch (i.e. over the side line).

It's the final 5% that seems to give most soccer parents and volunteer coaches trouble, and that's calling Offside.Soccer "offside" is a VERY judgement call. But the fundamentals of running the line aren't. You need to be level with the last defender, you need to watch both the lead attacker AND the player with the ball. You need to know the Laws of the Game.

I'm always amazed at the number of volunteer linesmen who loiter about the midfield stripe, who fail to make the call when one of the kiddos is clearly offside, or who don't know the simple facets of the rule, like the fact that there is no offside on a throw-in or a corner kick.It has always seemed to me (at least since I got old enough to understand the connection) incumbent on a person interested in anything, whether it be sport or politics or lovemaking, to learn all that he or she can about the thing in order to be the most adept, the most creative, the best informed about it, and the best - in terms of satisfying themselves and those involved with them - at whatever it is.That often doesn't seem to be the case. And it makes me wonder; why?

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