Week #29 September 18-22

Week #29 September 18-22

It’s bound to happen. (It has happened 23 times so far this year.) Technology will prove you wrong at some point. Be it the Flash Lag effect, a moment of indecision or being out of position and even correctly given benefit of doubt to the attack - you will get caught in an offside error.
In the past (like just two years ago) you did not know you had made an error until getting to the locker room or even the next day when you finally had a chance to see the replay, or worse yet, your name in the papers. With video review you will know in just about two minutes if you made a clear error or not.
This week we offer advice on how to deal with that awful feeling of knowing you have made a clear error and you still have 80 minutes to go in the match. What are the best practices to move on and move forward?


We need to be ready for all eventualities in a match. Despite being amazing match officials, we are still human. As such, an error of some form is going to happen. We do all in our power to prevent, minimize, avoid mistakes. Much, if not all, of the emphasis has been on improving our skills, so as to make the error % as close to zero as humanly possible.
What do we do when that fateful day arrives, and our decision is proven by the VAR to be factually incorrect?
Here are some best practices which hopefully can work for you:

#1 - Do NOT ask the VAR “how close was it / how much did I miss by”?
This one will clearly be the toughest bit of advice to get behind, because many of us (if not all) are used to going to our phones to find the kick point and see if a close decision was correct or not. However, right/wrong is no longer in question once the on field review has happened. Our decision was clearly and obviously wrong (and yes, it hurts to even write that). So does the degree of error matter? Consider these points:

  • Be it 3 inches or 3 meters, it’s still technically offside. We don’t like to be wrong - and that ultimately is the VAR's answer Our decision accuracy is 96%+ in percentage terms. We really don’t like to be wrong - so will that reply from the VAR really help? It puts the VAR in a really awkward position if the error is more on the egregious side..
    Most importantly, we cannot change the past, but can affect the future

  • Quite simply put, If you are asking questions about the missed decision, you are not focusing on what’s next.

#2 – Regain confidence and reset the brain
No different to the athletes playing the game, confidence and good form go a really long way. When we’re feeling good, we’re a step quicker, see things happening sooner, and seem to naturally just be in the best position. Nothing distracts us and we’re just in that zone. So when we take a stiff uppercut or the blow to the ego, how do we restore order?

Positive thoughts:

  • Personally (aka Joe Fletcher), it was my plan to remember the best three decisions I’ve made in my career, and how great it felt when those were confirmed to be correct. I wanted to regenerate that positive feeling which in turn would restore confidence

  • Enlist your teammates. While some prefer to internalize, hearing from a teammate that “you did the right thing leaving the flag down” can go a long way.

  • Self talk. Whether its humor used to brush it off, or anger used to motivate, the goal is to get back into the positive zone so we’re ready for what’s next. If you don’t want to hear it from others during this time, it’s probably best to mention it in the pregame.

  • Music. Singing aloud isn’t exactly where we were going with this one, but again, maybe warn the crew before the match. In all sincerity, music can have a very positive effect, and help us get past a difficult moment. Be it a specific line, or just a chorus that makes us smile, this is another option to help us move forward

#3 – Plan for it
This is another point which might be tough to get behind, especially given that some of us spend time before matches visualizing all the great decisions we will make. Don’t change that part. Just know what you will do, how you will act, or how you will reset and refocus should that awkward moment appear. Consider it akin to getting insurance which you pay for and hope that you never need.

A testimonial

FIFA and PRO Assistant Referee Frank Anderson at World Cup 2018

FIFA and PRO Assistant Referee Frank Anderson at World Cup 2018

This comes from Frank Anderson, FIFA World Cup Assistant Referee, who lived thru a review experience in Russia:

“I missed a decision on the biggest stage and couldn’t get rattled. There was still game left to be played. I took a couple of deep breaths to get back in the moment and focused on the basics (staying with the seconded to last defender or the ball).
I wanted, wished, for another decision to come my way so I could get the next one right. My mentality was “get the next one, don’t worry about the last one!” There was nothing I could do about the past decision; the next decision was my focus. And, I kept taking some deep breathes and talked to myself, “focus, get the next one; focus, get the next one.” My whole goal was to stay in the moment, be present, not think about the mistake, and be ready for the next important decision.”

As we all know, that decision was somewhere near ridiculous and impossible for Frank to humanly detect. FIFA was more than happy to say “This is why we have VAR! Frank implemented what we call VAR Delay, which made it all possible. Referee Mr. Geiger verbalized his encouragement to Frank over the radios before any signal was made. Yet none of that would change the feeling Frank had in that moment. However, Frank was able to deal with that moment.
He implemented his plan, and with very little bias we can say that Frank ended that match and the tournament in excellent form.

Applicable even without VAR - Dealing with self-doubt
Take away the person with the multiple cameras checking decisions and we are still left with close decisions that teams or fans may (probably will) disagree with. In this case, the right/wrong determination is not clear and obvious, but we might still have our own self-doubt.
The focus remains the same, and that is to be ready for what is next. After all, the percentages state that we were probably correct! No point in thinking otherwise.

What would you do if you experience a negative VAR review?

In the box below, we invite you to write what your coping strategy is should you experience a negative VAR review. Next week we will summarize what is shared, as we can all continue to learn from one another.

Winner - MLS Call of the Week #28 - Mike Rottersman

The people prefer Mike….

The people prefer Mike….

MLS Call of the Week #29

Two quality offside decision to pick from heading into the final weeks of the season. Have you won yet? Make one of these two a winner.
#1 we like because it shows good movement off of a corner kick to be in position to spot a cheeky pass to an almost offside attacker, which leads to another close decision.
#2 we like because when the attacker ends up that far open in space, the first suspicion is that he must have been offside.

Kyle Atkins

Chris Elliott

Who had Call of the Week #29?
Kyle Atkins - FC Dallas v NY Football Club
Chris Elliott - LA Galaxy v Montreal