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Dear Littleton Youth Soccer League Parents, Fans and Coaches,
Sometimes in the heat of competition, it’s hard for everyone to remember why we are at the youth soccer fields. Contrary to many opinions, it is not to win a soccer game. The purpose of LYS is to instill in our youth the ideals of good sportsmanship, fair play, and honesty for the betterment of their physical and social well being through soccer.
Whether we know it or not, we are role models for every player on our fields. Our actions or reactions to events will become their model of action for other events in their lives, as well. LYS believes that all players on the field deserve our praise and applause whether they are on your child’s team or not. Good play should be rewarded with cheers from all that are watching. Players should never be taunted or yelled at for making a mistake during the course of a game by a coach, parent or any other player.
Referees should also never be yelled at or confronted by a coach, parent or player. The referees are not compensated in any way and are on the field because they love the game and enjoy teaching/interacting with all of our soccer playing youth. So many of the soccer rules are based on the opinion of the referee at the time of the infraction – what they see may not be what you see, but you must respect their judgment.
Know the Game!
Soccer is a simple game, but you and the players will enjoy it more if you know a few of the rules that are frequently misunderstood. Soccer is intended to be a continuous action sport. Whenever possible, the referee will allow play to continue. Thus, when a player falls and the referee judges that the player is not at immediate risk, he/she will generally let the game proceed until a natural stoppage. Of course, the referee will stop play if a player needs immediate attention or would be endangered by continuing play.
Hand Ball, you say?!?
- This rule is actually “handling” the ball – players cannot deliberately play the ball with their hands or arms, except for the goalkeeper within his/her own penalty area. However, accidental contact between hands or arms and the ball occurs frequently, especially with younger players, and is not an infringement. In such cases, the referee will not stop play, since no breach of the rules has occurred. A spectator who yells “Handball!” in such circumstances merely reveals their lack of soccer knowledge.
- A throw-in must be taken from behind or on the touch-line (sideline) and both feet touching the ground at the moment the ball is released. The ball must be thrown from behind and over the head, using both hands. This motion is sometimes difficult for young players to master and referees may, at their discretion, allow retakes in order to help the players learn this skill.
- Unlike basketball and football, the boundary lines are part of the field of play. The ball is not out of play until it hascompletely crossed the goal line or side line. This implies that a goal is not scored unless the ball has completely crossed the goal line between the goal posts and beneath the crossbar.
- Soccer is a sport designed to give skill & speed the advantage over brute force. The rules permit physical contact, but limit it to non-dangerous forms. Other kinds of contact are illegal and are penalized by the referee. Careless, reckless, or unnecessarily hard contact by a player on his opponent does not become legal simply because the ball was struck in the process. This point is frequently misunderstood by spectators and players, who exhibit their lack of soccer knowledge by yelling “But he got the ball, ref!”
Incidental Contact…Play On!
- Referees penalize only clear infringements. In fact, they are specifically instructed not to penalize doubtful or trifling breaches of the rules. In other words, the game is supposed to “flow” and the referee is expected to interfere only to protect the safety of the players or to ensure equity according to the rules. The referee is explicitly given broad latitude to judge when their interference is needed. This is in sharp contrast with many sports popular in the United States, in which spectators expect the referee to stop play for all sorts of trifling violations. A knowledgeable spectator will understand and appreciate why, for example, a referee ignores inconsequential jostling or shoulder “bumping” between opponents and allows the game to proceed uninterrupted. In most circumstances (especially with younger players), when the referee stops the game he/she will explain a particular decision/situation to the players.
So…sit back, watch, cheer for all and enjoy the game!