American FIFA Referee Mark Geiger Very Impressive at World Cup

Confident. Strong. Decisive. Accurate.

Mark Geiger American FIFA Referee from New Jersey provided one of the best World Cup referee performances of the first three days. Americans should be proud. Geiger was clearly on the top of his game for the full 90 minutes as Columbia beat Greece 3-0. Geiger was supported by American AR Sean Hurd and Canadian AR Joe Fletcher.

For purposes of getting ourselves better as referees let’s dig deeper into Geiger’s performance to see what elements of his game we can bring to the games we referee:

Accuracy – accuracy matters. Being right is paramount. Mark Geiger was correct/accurate/right with every decision. How can we do a better job in our local games of raising our percentage of correct decisions on simple calls like: Throw in calls?  Goal kick/Corner kick decisions? When we get the direction incorrect on “simple” calls we significantly lose credibility with players/coaches/parents. As a solution when we AR be more prepared for the ball to go out, anticipate with your mind (NOT you flag!) that the ball is going to cross the touch line and goal line on every play. As a referee all of us can do a better job of making confident/strong/decisive throw in decisions in our quadrant. I see it all the time…the ball goes out deep in the referee’s quadrant and the ref looks back at the AR who is standing at midfield. You are asking a lot of your AR to help you that far down the line into your referee’s corner – our referees have to take more ownership of throw in and GK/CK decisions that occur in their corner of the diagonal. If we do have to guess please lean to guess it’s a goal kick instead of “guessing” for a potential goal scoring corner kick.

Fitness –Mark Geiger has clearly dedicated himself to a training regimen that places his fitness in to top echelon of international athletes. Obviously that level of fitness is unnecessary for the level of games most of our referees officiate but you can see how beneficial it is to be able to use your fitness to remain 10 to 15 yards away form play. While getting that fit might not be possible we can all do a better job of being in better shape.

Free Kick & Corner Kick Position – watching our referees on local games our positioning is across the map on our position for free kicks. As referees we don’t have to make up positioning ourselves. Watch our top referees and stand where they stand for attacking free kick and corner kick restarts.  We have to keep good open angles and remain aware of 5 major elements: 1) wall/defenders 2) the runs made by attackers 3) where the ball is going to land 4) goal keeper 5) location of kick and encroachment. Geiger was always so well positioned to have great angles to watch the area where the ball was going to land, awareness and an angle to see the goalkeeper all while he remained peripherally aware of the free kick and encroachment.

Drop Zone – on keeper punts and kicks out of the back Geiger was always in position to have an open look through the 2 players going up to challenge for the ball. If we are not fit this is really tough to do. We have to get up field fast to recover your position to see “through” the challenge with a good open angle.

Anticipation – Mark Geiger used his perception to read play so he could anticipate where the ball was going next. There were sequences that seemed like he knew before the players exactly where the ball was going next. In our games we can all do a better job of opening up our awareness to all 22 players and try reading their movements to anticipate where we have to position ourselves for the next play.

Congratulations to American FIFA Referee Mark Geiger for a most exceptional performance on the world’s stage! 

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Presidents Cup Regionals and Far West Regionals

Congratulations to our 26 WA referees heading to Presidents Cup Regionals in San Jose, CA and our 37 WA referees attending Far West Regionals in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For the 3rd consecutive year our state is sending the most referees to both of these prestigious officiating opportunities. Congratulations to all 63 of our WA referees!!!

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WIAA High School Championships

The WIAA crowned champions in boys soccer for 2014 and they are:

4A Snohomish
3A Lakeside (Seattle)
2A Squalicum (Bellingham)
1A Quincy

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How Parents Influence Participation in Youth Sports

The following comes from Steve Locker of Second Nature Sports about how parents influence their kids participation in any youth sport.

Here is a very logical (and simple) explanation on how sports work.  Kids play because they are having fun.  Kids quit because they are not having fun.  Which scenario are your comments/actions/behavior supporting? If we allow our children to simply have fun, they will keep playing.  If they are destined to advance in a sport, they must become their own motivators.  When this happens, they are the first ones to know when they made a mistake and when they did something really positive.  They don’t need anyone to tell them.  Our job as parents of young athletes is actually pretty easy when you follow this perspective.

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Pete Carroll – applying his words and his concepts to officiating soccer

A wonderful article from about the recent success of the Seattle Seahawks and the infectiously positive culture created by the team’s leader and head coach Pete Carroll.
The article can easily be applied to what we do in officiating.
1) Are we as referees doing what we can to create these types of positive cultures in the games we referee?
2) Are we working with our fellow officials in such a manner?
3) Are we building referee associations that operate by these values?
One quote from Coach Carroll I find very important to changing our culture as officials is this: “In his recent book Carroll asked himself, “What if my job as a coach isn’t so much to force or coerce performance as it is to create situations where players develop the confidence to set their talents free and pursue their potential to its full extent? What if my job is really to prove to these kids how good they already are, how good they could possibly become, and that they are truly capable of high-level performance?”
Take that quote from the coach and translate it into referee talk – how does this sound……?
“What if my job as a referee isn’t so much to force or coerce behavior as it is to create situations where players develop the confidence to set their talents free and pursue their potential to its full extent? What if my job is really to prove to these kids how good they already are, how good they could possibly become, and that they are truly capable of high-level performance?”
Living in Seattle, it’s close to impossible not to get caught up in the Seahawks and Super Bowl frenzy.  With the Seahawks winning their first Super Bowl title in history, the city is electric with blue and green.  Never before has Seattle felt so unified.  The energy is contagious.

As the buzz lingers, we find ourselves talking more and more about the man who helped the Seahawks to their big win.  Coach Pete Carroll built an environment that motivated individuals to their best performance while also celebrating the team as a whole – all without ever losing sight of the end goal, the championship.   What can you learn from this?  So often business leaders forget (or discount) how important it is to support individual and team performance in the push to be more competitive.
So, how does Coach Carroll do it?  And how can you apply the same approach to your own workforce? A few key concepts rise to the top:
Create a vision: Pete Carroll drives his players to live, work and play like champions every day, and in every aspect of life. The end goal?  To approach all of life’s opportunities with a “winner” mentality and to “compete for life.”1  With a clear and consistent vision, he is able to focus his team every day on long-term success.  While perhaps you can’t expect your employees to have quite this level of dedication to their careers, you can create a set of core values for your organization, values that support your business goals, brand, and culture.  Think about how you want your team to behave, and set your values around that behavior.  Then make those values a central part of your organization and employee philosophy in order to align your team to a common focus.
Be an inspirational leader: In his recent book Carroll asked himself, “What if my job as a coach isn’t so much to force or coerce performance as it is to create situations where players develop the confidence to set their talents free and pursue their potential to its full extent? What if my job is really to prove to these kids how good they already are, how good they could possibly become, and that they are truly capable of high-level performance?”2   What could be more inspiring than a leader who instills confidence and helps the individual team members realize new capabilities in themselves?  Take a step back, give your people challenges, and support and guide them as they start to grow.  Build a supportive culture built on trust and the celebration of achievement.
Trust your people:  Yes, trust again.  Linebacker Bobby Wagner has said that “He allows you to be yourself and do certain things because he trusts you.  He trusts us and we trust him.”3  Where employees feel trust and empowerment, they are much more likely to give back buy-in and engagement.  Hire well, then step back and show your employees that you trust them to do their job, embrace team values, and work towards the team goals.
Raise the bar:  Although Carroll empowers his team with a high level of freedom, he also sets extremely high expectations that are clear to everyone.  He has said, “We run this program with extraordinary standards in how we prepare every day, with expectations that they’re going to be working their tails off every single step of the practice.”4   Make sure your expectations for your team are communicated clearly.  There’s nothing wrong with expecting high performance from your team; in fact, setting a high bar will inspire your team to rise to the challenge.  Just be prepared to maintain a high bar for yourself, too!
Encourage a team mentality: “Rule #1 is to always protect the team, you represent us, not yourself.”   Coach Carroll asks players to think of bigger team goals and less of immediate returns as they strive together for greatness as a team and as a family.5  You can encourage this same mindset in your organization.  Celebrate when the team achieves a goal rather than relying on individual performance goals, or worse, pitting employees against one another.  Clearly communicate team goals, and celebrate together when you achieve them.
Celebrate wins and have fun: Carroll’s energy is contagious.  You don’t have to look hard to see his genuine excitement as his people rise to do their best.  He celebrates every win and every milestone. He also creates a daily environment where people have fun with each other.  As he says, “To accomplish the grand, you have to focus on the small; to exist in the eternal perspective, you have to live in the moment.”6    Live in the moment with your team.  Don’t cordon yourself off in the corner office.  Celebrate even the small achievements with honest, true excitement.   Trust and your team will thrive on it.
Carroll is undoubtedly an inspirational leader.   And while he’s created a winning team, it’s not just about winning on Sunday, or about winning a Super Bowl. It’s about creating the type of atmosphere that drives team members to want to win every day – together.  Carroll believes that by finding the best people and challenging them to find their own best selves, they will bring it.  And that they have – and so can you!
About PeopleFirm
PeopleFirm is a consultancy with the single focus of helping organizations realize the full potential in their people. Our unique approach identifies and implements targeted investments in the human side of organizations, with a focus on effective tools, measurable outcomes, real results, employee buy-in, and getting your people out of their seats and engaged in your company’s growth.
 1 “The essence of Pete Carroll’s ‘Win Forever’ philosophy” January 29, 2014
  2 “Pete Carroll’s new book simply says “Win Forever” July 15, 2010
  3 NY Daily News:  “Laid-back style of Pete Carroll has Seahawks in Super Bowl” February 2, 2014
  4 “Pete Carroll’s new book simply says “Win Forever” July 15, 2010
  5 “Pete Carroll’s Positive, Profound Approach To Football Working Wonders In Seattle” September 13, 2013
  6 “The essence of Pete Carroll’s ‘Win Forever’ philosophy” January 29, 2014
  Photos: RedBox Pictures, Newsday
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2014 State Cup Dates and Academies

In 2014 there are 3 remaining State Tournament Finals Weekends all at Starfire in Tukwila.  We will host a combination of referee trainings for each of the 3 remaining weekends.  The focus of each weekend is below.

April 26 and 27 – Boys and Girls U10 & U11 Challenge Cup Finals – with just a few games we will team referees together and there won’t be an official academy built around this weekend just mentoring and teamwork.

May 3 and 4 – Boys and Girls U12-U14 Challenge and Championship Cup – all 2014 Young Referee of the Year award nominees from around Washington are invited to officiate at this academy.  Special training and events will be built around celebrating these fine Young Referee of the Year nominees.

May 10 and 11 (Mother’s Day weekend) – Girls U15-U19 Challenge and Championship Cup – with the goal of being officiated by our state’s finest female referees we will once again work to invite top female referees from around our state to this showcase weekend.

July 25- 27, 2014 Referee Development Academy – Ellensburg, WA

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How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge

Take a look at this Harvard Business Review Blog Post.  All of us as referees regardless of our years of service, USSF grade, age or experience have a role to play as a leader.  We have to teach and foster leadership from all of our referees. This is a good how-to manual for that.

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