The Memories & Spirit of the Game, as only Ken Aston could teach it...
Enjoy, your journey here on...
-= One Man Diagonal =-

Glenn, from Eastern Pennsylvania >Giovanni, how about a discourse on DSC when doing a game with club lines
(I >wont ever call parents AR's)..

Sure...... It is Saturday, it is snowing, I have no games, there is no soccer on TV, if I don't write this I have to go downstairs to the treadmill or do laundry, so this will be long. I am going to talk about two one-man position systems, the one-man diagonal and the lateral.

One-man diagonal first...

There are two main differences between the standard DSC and the One-Man Diagonal:

With the one-man diagonal........

[a] - the referee does not need to keep his AR in sight.
[b] - the referee needs to go deeper than usual to pay closer attention to offside Point (a) is an advantage - in terms of movement - but point (b) represents an increased demand on the ref. However, the added freedom that point (a) gives the referee will help him to achieve the objective in (b). Let's start from a GK situation: the referee will position itself at the centre circle, as in a three-man situation, but while in the three-man situation he will *always* take the side opposite to the lead linesman, in a one-man situation he will take the same side as the ball. It is easy to spot in advance where the goalkeeper is going to put the ball, so crossing the circle (20 yds.) can be done with an easy jog. (In younger age groups, where the ball is not likely to land at the halfway lane the ref can move closer to the box, but things do 't change in terms of width) After the ball is kicked it can reach the halfway line: a - on the same side of the pitch as the ref, or b - on the other side In (a) the referee is golden; all he has to do is stay ahead of the ball and run downfield, paying equal attention to the ball and to the offside line. In order to do this, he has to stay as wide as possible and as deep as possible. How deep? Let the play make the decision for you; the more the ball is contested the closer (depth, not width) you should be to the play rather than the offside line; if the ball comes downfield with little or no contest between players, be bold and take the offside line. The key here is *width*; remember, you are on the same side of the ball, so you will never be far away from the play; go wide, wider and widest :-} In (b) the referee is at a disadvantage; so, as soon as he realizes that the ball is going to cross the halfway line on the side opposite to him, he has to start a diagonal movement that brings him to cross the field and get to the same side as the ball. This implies crossing the center field, but it is fine, absolutely fine; this is a one-man mechanic....... The idea here is that the referee should try everything he can to be on the same side of the pitch as the ball when it crosses the halfway line. Don't be scared; getting to the same side as the ball *always* implies zero or one diagonal movements across the field and it is easy to see in advance whether or not the ball is going to cross the halfway line on our side or the opposite one. Usually there is no need for anything more than an easy jog to gain this advantage point. One way or the other, we are now at the point when the ball has crossed the halfway line on our side; let's go from here....... In order to decide what to do next, we need to establish a reference point at the 25 or 30 yard line and see what happens to the ball between the halfway line and our imaginary reference point. If the ball goes straight downfield we go with it and we try to stay ahead and take the offside line, or to go as close to it as advisable. Don't make reaching the offside line a matter of religion; close is close enough. The three things that really matter are *width, width and width*. HERE COMES THE TROUBLE........ ......The ball crossed the halfway line with us but it is kicked across the field before reaching our mental reference point on the 25-30 yard line......... If the ball goes away from us at any time after crossing the halfway line and before reaching the 25-30 yard line we should commit ourselves and cut across the field in the direction of the opposite corner flag, regardless of how deep or shallow the movement of the ball is. In one-man system we simply cannot afford to follow the ball like puppies..... We need to establish our own patterns........ This cutting across the field is the most dangerous moment of them all; we lose the angle on the offside line and we are in the center of the field, so we need to get out of the way as fast as possible and sprint, sprint, sprint. This is the single referee action that requires speed and stamina; commit to the crossover and go, go, go, Of course, the next logical question is when to stop, and the answer is: as soon as we are on the other wing, ahead of the ball and we have regained our angle on the offside line. This is a *key* point; once you commit to cross over, do not stop halfway through the movement; go all the way until you regain the offside angle. What happens if the ball switches back to where we were coming from, either while we are crossing over or after we are done with it? Let it go; in a one man system we cannot afford more than one live-ball cross over at midfield per play, unless we want to die, and we also have to take offside into consideration..... Let's say we are lucky, though, and we are on the same side as the ball as it crosses the 25 line; in this case we can go for the offside line without further hesitation, take it and call the play from this position until its end. *Never*, *ever* think of crossing over in the last fourth of the field, unless you think it is cute being caught with your pants down, in the center of the field while little Joey is screaming in pain in the middle of the box or Sammy the Nimble is breezing with the ball toward the goalmouth and everybody else is screaming "Offfffsiiiiiiiiidee!". If the ball goes away from you after it has crossed the 25-30 yard line, push slightly toward the center of the field - as much as you can without losing offside!! - and don't be scared........ Look at where you are: you have *all* players boxed in between you and the ball, you have the offside and the only thing is that you are away from the ball (but you have a good angle anyway.....). Not perfect, but good enough......... However, it is true that being away from the ball in the final fourth of the field is the real weakness, so we should introduce in our one-man diagonal one element that minimizes this risk. The element is a careful exploitation of *any* dead ball situation (dead ball is easier to write than ball-not-in-play). In the offensive half of the field, every time where the following occurs: a - there is a dead ball situation, and b - the ball is on the other (vertical) half of the field, and c - you *have the time*, cross over diagonally and take you position along the diagonal, as illustrated above, on the same side as the ball. This is almost mandatory on fouls, when you have to go there, sort out the mess, set the wall and all those neat things, but it is also highly advisable on throw-ins. Actually, throw-ins are the one-man referee best friend, mostly those when the ball is kicked *way* out of bounds. In those cases there is plenty of time to cross over and rest.

A couple of tips:

1. - on corner kicks on a one-man system, *always* take the far post, and position yourself on the inside corner of the GA.

2. - don't take the... "SocRef-L approach" to offside, and don't spend too much time on endless, mind numbing analysis on the most irrelevant factors. If he is offside and goes, nail him *now*.... Don't wait. If you wait, in a one-man situation you nail yourself to the cross (don't you just *love* these Catholic metaphors). Nobody is backing you up, nobody is going to give you a late signal if one of those strange situations happen. Cut the debate before it begins and if he goes, call it....... So far we have seen a full beginning-to-end play and we have fully illustrated the diagonal in this context. Unfortunately - as we know - soccer is characterized by frequent changes of possession that not even the NF has made illegal (hey, what if one gets injured in the process, or if his self esteem suffers from being nut-megged......), so we have to reconcile our one-man diagonal with change of possession situations. I'll get myself a cigarette, a cup of tea (too early to booze...) I'll watch some of the Northwestern game - Go Cats! - and I'll be back with something intelligent to say (yeah, right....). If there is a change of possession, the actual position of the referee is immaterial in determining what to do next. Remember, we do not have AR's to keep in sight, so we can roam freely around the field with the only objective to get to a better position to rule on the play; as far as our position goes the two (vertical) halves of the field are exactly the same!! Given this, as soon as there is a change of possession, turn around and take off toward the corner flag that is on the same (vertical) side of the field *as the ball* when the change of possession occurs. Run as hard as the play requires and keep running toward the corner flag until you have regained your angle *on the offside*. The most common error here is to stop when you have regained the angle on the ball. This is not enough, and using the angle on the ball as our only reference point has two major drawbacks: a - it leaves you way too central way too often.... b - it leaves you in a bad position to call offside........ As a matter of fact, regaining the angle on the ball is meaningless as an objective. A good angle on the ball is a by-product of a good angle on the offside and the latter never comes without the former......... So, if there is a change of possession, identify the "good" corner flag and sprint in that direction as hard as you have to. Several things may happen at this point: a - a breakaway. The changes of possession results in a continuous attack that keeps going until a shot is taken. In this case, the only thing a referee can do is to continue running straight, as fast as possible, until *after* the shot is taken. Pietro Mennea, the Italian sprinter whose 200 mt. world record resisted longer than *any other* (excuse us.....) was very well known for his "never-give-up" finish, and once he explained his secret: "I never ran a 200 metre race; I always run a 210 metre..........". Too often I see too referees give up once they realize the breakaway is going all the way, and I see them calling the play from the center of the field and from too far behind. That's no good; a breakaway is the most demanding play but also the play when fouls are more blatant and visible; I personally try to do *everything* I can to minimize the disadvantage a breakaway puts me at and I do not slow down until the ball is out of bounds or within the unchallenged goalie's possession. b - a new play is set up by the team in possession: somebody will look up, decide what to do next and play the ball accordingly. In this case, the referee can use this time to analyze his position, the ball's, see where ball and referee are with respect to the halfway line and apply the original principles illustrated above c - a mix of (a) and (b) above: a breakaway stems from the change of possession but it does not go all the way because the defense interrupts it, the ball goes out of bounds or whatever...... c - The best reaction in this case is to follow the breakaway mechanic until the offside angle is regained or the breakaway is interrupted (not just slowed down, *interrupted*) and then re-assess one's position with respect of the ball (same vertical half or opposite one), the field (defensive half, offensive half, and if so, behind or ahead of the 25-30 yd. line). The ensuing position will be dictated by the results of that observation, according to the basic principles. d - the change of possession is followed by something not well defined, a struggle for the ball, tackles over tackles, one-on one duels in a relatively restricted area of the field. In this case the referee must go as wide as possible to get the best angle on the ball and *then* see if an angle on the offside is required too. If this is the case, he will rectify his position going deeper, as deep as needed to get the required angle. That is basically everything that one needs to know to implement a good one-man diagonal. It looks effort intensive and physically demanding, and it actually is, but less than it looks like. The secret for a perfect execution is not the top speed, but the ability to remain in constant motion at a slow/moderate pace. In many - too many - cases the need to sprint is caused by not having executed a proper slow motion on the previous play. This creates a chain reaction: the sprint tires the referee, who will try to make up by not moving on the next play, and this - in turn - will cause the need for more sprint etc. I am talking here to the referees who took on refereeing at a later age and at an expanded waist :-}, usually dragged into the sport by their kids playing. I bet the rent that many of them do not like the sense of exertion and the physical exhaustion that they feel at the end of a day at the park. I am no physical trainer, but I would like to invite them to try this diagonal (one man or three man, it does not make any difference) and execute it properly, keeping themselves in constant, slow/moderate pace motion with the occasional outburst of energetic run when it is needed. I swear: they will work-out more but at a better pace and they will feel *well* physically at the end of the day. If not, I'll give you back your money, guaranteed...... A less demanding but less effective one-man system of control is the lateral. It works more or less like the diagonal until the ball crosses the halfway line, but then the referee will never have a live ball cross-over and will keep going deep and wide on the side he was when the ball crossed the halfway line. Dead ball cross-over's will always be executed when needed, and they will be needed more often than with the one-man diagonal. It is simpler and less demanding, but it does not give the referee good angles in many situations. That's it.

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