Tournaments are currently what makes youth soccer go. It’s where the kids get to play the bulk of their high level games and it’s where referees get to work the bulk of their top games. Tournaments are usually played in any and all kinds of weather: sun, rain, heat, cold, snow, etc. They can also be a lot of fun with the proper preparation. Here are some handy tips on how to be properly prepared for a weekend tournament.
First and foremost is to have all of the proper gear and equipment. Just like the players can’t play without the proper equipment, the referees can’t work without the requisite gear. Most important is to have more than one jersey. Lots of younger and newer referees attempt to do tournaments with just the gold/yellow jersey. This may work for the local league, but at a tournament there are many more teams and thus a higher likelihood of teams wearing yellow. It is highly recommended that referees have all five jerseys, but not all young referees can afford them or have the need for them. In that case, try to have at least three (usually gold/yellow, red and green). After jerseys, shorts and socks are also very important. Black shorts with no logos or excess stripes are required. For the socks, again all black are required. Three stripe socks are still acceptable. Always have an extra pair of socks handy as well. It may be wet and running around in soggy socks for a whole weekend is no fun. Proper, comfortable shoes are very important. Also, make sure to have cold weather gear handy at all times, just in case. Again, make sure it’s all black. In terms of non-wearable gear, make sure to have at least one working watch, a pair of flags, a booklet with yellow and red cards (they tend to be necessary from time to time) a coin (preferably a referee coin and not just US currency) and a sturdy bag to hold all of this stuff. In the case that any of these items have become dilapidated or gone missing, check out refereestore.com for all of your referee equipment needs.
After having all of the required gear, the next most important thing to be prepared for a tournament is to be physically prepared. Now, this does not mean being in peak physical shape and ready to go run a marathon, though that is not at all discouraged. However, signing up to work a tournament after spending all summer on the couch watching TV is not acceptable. If a referee is physically unprepared to work a tournament, he or she can potentially injure themselves and thereby put the assignor in a bad spot trying to fill all the holes in the schedule. To avoid this from happening, at least try to do something during the offseason to keep in decent shape. It’s also a good idea to have worked some other, low intensity games (possibly rec or church league) to get games back in the legs. For further physical preparedness advice visit this site's Referee Forum.
Finally, to be fully prepared for a soccer tournament, there must be mental preparedness. As previously discussed, referee abuse is a very real problem today. When doing a tournament, parents and coaches try to justify abusing the referees by saying how much the game means to them or how far they had to travel to get to the tournament. Referees need to mentally prepare themselves for anything the parents and coaches throw at them. Once the referee is mentally prepared, he or she just needs to uphold and apply the Law of the Game and deal with any abuse accordingly.