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!