Quick Tips for
Club Referees

SENIOR MEN'S & MASTERS SIN BIN  With aggressive/angry players (not playing within the spirit of the game), referees can Sin Bin a player for 10 minutes and allow another player on. If a player receives a Yellow Card for a 2nd sin bin offence (dissent), or for that matter any other YC offence, the same player should be sent off and cannot be replaced.

Using the Whistle

  • A nice loud blast to start each half.
  • No need to whistle for close ball out of play decisions, (throw ins, goal kicks & corners), unless they are close and players look to continue with play.
  • Vary the tone depending on the severity of the tackles (your judgement).
  • Confident volume, not weak sounding. Players pick up on the referee’s confidence by how the whistle is blown.


  • Signal as quick and as decisively as possible. Slowness is read as indecisive.
  • Throw in and free kicks: signal 45 degrees in an upward direction.
  • Corners: signal 45 degrees in an upward direction, directly to the side the corner the kick is to be taken from.
  • Goal kicks: signal downwards like you are pointing at the goal area line 5.5m out from the goal line. If too high, in some positions the referee is in, it is hard to tell if the signal is a corner or goal kick.


  • Communicate to players as much as possible in a positive way.
  • Let players know when you feel tackles are borderline on being unfair/ unsafe and use preventative comments (eg. “be careful next time”, “ watch the use of your arms”, “good tackle” - this one beats some appeals), add voice to signals (“goal kick”, corner”), colour of team who gets throw in when there are some closer decisions (careful when there are a large number of throw ins happening though, as hearing the referee's voice can get a bit monotonous). 
  • Answer appeals respectfully. Answer more firmer to the more aggressive appeals, but still with respect.
  • Always be calm even when the players are heated.

Movement and positioning

  • Try to be side on to all challenges between opposing players. This is called the ‘drop zone’.
  • This is easiest at set plays like goal kicks, free kicks and throw ins.
  • Keep up with play and be 10 to 20m away at the most. Critical decisions cannot be credible from 50m away. This is even more important for challenges in and around the penalty area.
  • Get an angled view on attacks, as referees with no assistants need to judge offside as well. This is much harder if the referee is just following play up the middle of the field.


  • Try to ignore comments from spectators and don’t answer them back.
  • If a spectator is getting out of hand, approach the coach of the team you believe the spectator is supporting and get them to deal with it. You can hold up the game until the spectator has been dealt with. If the spectator(s) doesn’t stop, you can abandon the game. It shouldn’t get this far.
  • Club referees can caution and send off players and team officials just like an official referee.
  • Don’t allow reckless challenges to carry on, as the tackles will only get worse.
  • Don’t take abuse from players or team officials. This is dissent, so they can be cautioned or sent off, even though club referees will likely not have yellow and red cards.
  • Aggressive disagreement at a decision with expletives is a caution. Abuse at the referee or others, often with expletives is a send off. As mentioned, club referees have the power to action these examples too.
  • With aggressive/angry players, referees can get agreement from coaches to sub out the player (to cool off) if they aren’t playing within the spirit of the game (a bit like a sin bin, but allowing another player on).

Handball (very briefly)

  • Accidental hand ball is not handball unless the arm is up higher in an unnatural position.
  • It’s not handball (especially) in midfield just because the ball hits an arm accidentally and the player gains an advantage from that.
  • Accidental handball by an attacker who scores a goal or gives themselves the opportunity to score IS handball.

Check out the definition here in law 12

Offside (very briefly)

  • It is very difficult for a sole referee to get every offside decision right. The advice is, if in doubt don’t give offside. It’s the same for both teams.
  • Mostly, any offside given will need to be clear and obvious to the referee to judge. As mentioned in Movement and Positioning, angle will help with decision making.
  • The biggest issue with offside at the moment, is what is classified as a deliberately playing the ball and what is a deflection.

Check out the definition here in law 11