The Memories & Spirit of the Game, as only Ken Aston could teach it...
Enjoy, your journey here on...
-= The DUAL =-
"...for the GOOD of the Game"
by the following...
Jim Geissman / Roger Domal / Doug Smith / Patrick Duffy / Gil Weber / Thomas Stagliano
Dennis Wickham / Reza Pazirandeh / Chris Mohr / Andrew Castiglione / Morten Mikkelsen
Soccer Jim / William Carey / Charlie Johnson / Ed Marco / Ray Vick / Rick Burke
Richard Critz / Barbara Passman

"From a Question from... Roger Domal"
"Also a Question from... Jim Geissman regarding Dual Referee Whistle on... Restart"
"Followed by... Andrew Castiglione ~ The DUAL System Criteria and Mechanics"
VIA... SOCREF-L & AYSO-L ListServe Archives ~ September 2014

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+-+ Dual Referee Whistle on... Restart +-+ ~~~ +-+ The DUAL System Criteria and Mechanics +-+

The Question from... Roger Domal:

I have just recently started my High School Dual Career, and I was wondering if anyone has advice on positioning?

Most of my partners have been glued to the touchline's, and I don't want to do that.

But, I seem to be getting caught drifting too far in field as the ball and action approaches. I then back away from the action towards the line, but my skill at going backwards doesn't match my forward skill.

I was wondering what you Dual vets do when "caught" in field?

Also, in the Dual System do you get to the spot of a foul if necessary like in the DSC? I do it in the Dual System, but NONE of my partners have done it yet?

And lastly, as the Lead Referee, are you more concerned with OFFSIDE or with the ball? I find that I'm glancing too much on the line and losing focus on the ball and players? In a solo game, OFFSIDE to me is secondary to where the ball is, but in the Dual, it seems like the focus is on OFFSIDE?

~ Roger Domal

Jim Geissman replies...

IMO a Dual Referee is a kind of CR, not an AR. You're wider than a CR, so you can see offside using your position near but not exactly on the OFFSIDE line combined with your stereoscopic vision. But that's not your only function. When the play is the other way, be a CR who can stay a bit farther back because you might have to be the lead going the other way.

When leading, think of yourself as a solo Referee who happens to already be deep rather than an Assistant Referee. If you were solo would you go back all the way to the OFFSIDE line?

Most Dual Referees behave like Assistant Referees, alas. It might help if you were to have your team on the CR left diagonal rather than the AR right diagonal, to break down that thinking in your partner.

>> I was wondering what you Dual System vets do when "caught" in field? <<
Sometimes the play just goes around me. Like if I were the solo Referee.

Sometimes one of the Referees needs to go to the spot of the foul. Probably the Trail Referee, but depends on the situation. The whistle for a restart should be by the Trail Referee, even if the Lead Referee has done all the work up to that point (e.g., PK where the Lead Referee becomes Line Judge).

You may have lazy partners...

>> Also, in the Dual System do you get to the spot of a foul if necessary like in the DSC? <<

I do it in the Dual, but NONE of my partners have done it yet?

~ Jim Geissman

Roger Domal replies...

And then on the weekend, I go back to DSC!

Thanks, Jim. Appreciate it. After running lines, and being a Referee, running the Dual is like putting on snow shoes and trying to run!

I always was taught that if it was a hard foul, a close in foul, or a contentious one that our presence was required.

I will try to get there for the spot.

~ Roger Domal

Doug Smith replies...

To Start: don't expect that your Dual partners have any concept of what I am about to cover. Most "Dual"ers behave like an Assistant Referee who happens to have a whistle instead of a flag. Quite often, a Dual match has the equivalent of 2 AR's, instead of two referees.

The best way to think of Dual positioning is that, when play is coming toward "your" goal line (and you are therefore the "lead" official), you have the responsibilities and priorities of the Assistant Referee at that end of the field. Therefore, your first priority is offside, your second is ball out of play, and your other second priority is Law 12. Therefore, the Lead Referee needs to be positioned (roughly) even with and outside of the second-to-last defender, where you have a view of the offside decision. You go off the field only if the ball, or the player closest to the touch line, forces you to.

When play is going toward your partner's goal line (and you are the "trail" official), you have the responsibilities and priorities of the (Center) Referee in a DSC match: Law 12, then ball out of play, then (about 10th priority) offside behind you. The Trail Referee needs to be positioned no more than 15 yards behind the ball (10 is better), nearer "her" touch line than the ball.

The most jarring thing about a Dual is that the rhythm, or tempo, is completely different from a DSC: when there is a change of possession in a DSC, unless the Referee has already gone deep into the corner, she can quite often stand still for 2-3 seconds, and let play flow past her in the other direction (and also allow the point of attack to be determined). But in a Dual, whenever there is a change of possession, the Lead Referee is instantaneously transformed into the trail, and vice versa; the optimally-positioned Dual partners are both immediately out of position by 15-25 yards. This demands a hard sprint by both: backward for the (now-) Lead Referee to get out where the offside decision can be seen, and forward for the (now-) trail to get nearer and provide foul coverage of the developing play. And, inevitably, when the ball is turned right back over, 15- or 25-yard sprints to return to where they just were.

Again, don't expect your typical Dual partner to understand that - or if they do, to make the necessary commitment to the required level of exertion. I recall my first year, of Dualing, when my partner mentioned at half-time that he was running his butt off in this match. I said, "Oh, really? It doesn't seem that demanding to me." He responded, with a raised finger "A - ha!", and proceeded to enlighten me with these concepts. It takes dozens of matches of correct practice to learn the feel of a Dual.

(In the past, I have suggested that the name of the Dual System should be changed to the "running backward system of refereeing". If done right, each Dualer will run backwards roughly three times as much as should be done by the Referee in a DSC. And if you find that you never run backwards as the Referee in a DSC, I have to ask, why not?)

Each Dual Referee should move (East-West) from one touch line (when the ball is near it) to at least the middle of the field (when the ball is on near other touch line); and each Dualer should habitually move North-South as play dictates. There is nothing more discouraging than going deep into my corner to keep ahead of a fast-moving attack, and looking back to see my partner still in the other half. In my opinion, the most important area of coverage on those plays is around the penalty spot; and I am stuck out there near the touch line, covering offside, 30 yards away from the action in the goal mouth, looking through multiple bodies. Guess who I am counting on for calling fouls near the spot? How is that call going to be made, or sold, from the half line? Grumble.

Just as the Referee in a DSC should get within touching distance of all four boundaries during a typical match, a Dual Referee should habitually patrol from one goal line to the other 18, and from one touch line to the mid-line of the field.

The way I work this, as trail, is to allow the ball to "push" and "pull" me, East-West, from and to my touch line - I try to be just about half as far away from my touch line as the ball. When I am lead, I am even with the second-to-last defender, nearer my touch line than the player closest to it. When the ball crosses my goal line, I am standing on it; and when the ball crosses the other goal line, I am within touching distance of the 18.

(I also allow one adjustment to the lead's positioning, based on how the players are positioning themselves today. Instead of the second-to-last defender, I sometimes stay with the attacker closest to the goal line, until that attacker is in OSP. Since I usually have to give up something, that often allows me to be a little closer to play without losing the offside decision.)

As for getting "caught inside", I use the metric that that should happen to me about once (twice, if the pace of this match is hyper speed) per half. If it never happens, either the match is really slow, or I am not getting into the field with enough conviction. And if I do get caught, I just let play flow past me, then swing out and around and get back into proper lead position. Dual Refereeing is a compromise, and we always have to give up something. What we should strive to do is not give up coverage of potential penalty kicks.

By all means, talk with your partner before the match, and explain what you will be doing, and what you expect from them - and if you don't get what you need in the first half, revisit the topic at half time. This is not something that is mastered in one match, or even two.

Click your heels together three times, and repeat after me: the Dual System is a compromise, the Dual System is a compromise, the Dual System is a compromise, ...

~ Doug Smith

Patrick Duffy replies...

With one less pair of eyes, the Dual System requires certain compromises. The lead is primarily responsible for offside. (I don't ever want to work with a Dual partner who calls offside when they are the trail!) But there are many times when offside is not really a threat. If the ball is along your touchline, you will probably need to put more attention on play along the touchline. I view the area of PRIMARY responsibility as a right triangle with the 90 degree angle being the goal line-touchline intersection to your right, so the hypotenuse is formed by the corner flag to your left and the corner flag on the far side of your goal line. Do not let the center of the field become the free fire zone, where each of you thinks that is the other guy's responsibility. What kind of a game do you have? Are they playing very direct or is there a lot of short passing? In the former case, probably more typical of high school boys, you and your partner will probably end up farther away...  from each other than in the latter case.

In the latter case, you are going to need to be closer to play just to see all of the little knocks and pushes that happen in that kind of game. Be very aware of the type of fouls that your partner is calling. Each of you will naturally have a little different attitude about how tight to call things in this game. Like a good marriage, it will require you to compromise, i.e. both of you should move your foul-o-meter up or down, towards what your partner is doing, as should they. No matter how stupid they are, we do not throw our partner under the bus. Work together on subs. Referee 1, on the bench side, should whistle up the sub opportunities and then signal his partner if the partner is going to whistle the restart, when the exiting players are off and the entering players are on and in reasonable position. If Referee 2 has to come over to report a card, Referee 1 keeps an eagle eye out for further extracurricular activity.

Soccer Jim replies...

First, understand I've done Duals for 20 years. On smaller fields like those used for gridiron, they are VERY effective, keep you out of the middle (and out of the way of players), and are very flexible (especially on those fields where the gridiron marks help you with offside alignment). The biggest problem, and the only real complaint, is that there will be TWO opinions on some plays, and the people who don't like Duals are generally Referees with big egos who only want their single opinion valued, or some with a "command cop" mentality and approach to the game.

Second, your ability to run backwards will improve! I can run backwards as fast as I run forwards after doing it so long. It's just like learning to sidestep when you are an Assistant get better as you do it more often.

Third, don't worry if play gets outside you once in awhile. If you run the Dual System properly (the way I do it! :0), then once in awhile you will be too slow to get back to the touchline, and you will have to turn your back on the rest of the players to watch the play. That's why you have a watch your back. But this really shouldn't happen more than once a game on average...I have many games where they never get outside me.

So, here's the advice. Push in when the ball is on the opposite side from you, at least as far as the gridiron hash marks. I actually use the outside of the center circle on my side as a guide. When you are watching the attacking end, make your run towards the goal line a curved run that would end up with you at the corner of the six-yard box if you actually need to go that deep when the attack is coming from the opposite side of the field, and a more shallow curve that stays outside play when the attack is on your side. Do not worry about being right on the touchline unless experience tells you a ball in the air might go out of should be able to tell when a ball is all the way out on the ground from 5-10 yards inside the line.

When you are in the defensive end, you should adjust according to how the defense plays for offside, and how aggressive the attackers are. Most of the time, you should try to stay with the first attacker rather than the ball or 2nd to last defender, and that should let you be deeper into your partner's end of the field. As you read each game, you can make adjustments depending on how the teams are playing, and how likely it is that you might need to make a close offside call. Again, the gridiron lines are a big help if they are there.

The real key to the Dual System, as is actually the case for the 3-man, is how well you know and trust your partner. Most of the people I work with are going to more or less call the same fouls I would call, so I let them handle MOST of the calls in their end and right in front of them. The exception is clear handling or holding away from them but easily seen by me. I expect them to cover the side away from me if players are trying to hide fouls. We talk about these things in the pre-game.

Here are some issues. On corner kicks, every signal should be to your right no matter which corner you want the kids to use. Any time you point across the goal, your partner will think you are signaling goal kick no matter what angle you hold your arm. If you call a penalty kick, run in to the spot so that signal doesn't look like a common goal kick signal. Around here on PKs, we routinely deviate from the book procedure, and have the trail come up to handle the kick and blow the whistle, while the lead goes to the line as goal and keeper judge. This is more like what you would do in a 3-man, and makes more sense to most of us.

Getting to the spot of the fouls in the Dual System depends entirely on how badly you think you need to be there, and how close you are in the first place. The tough place is the "coffin corner"...the corner opposite both you and your partner. That can be a pretty long run/jog for either of you. I don't expect my partner to come all the way across the field for the average restart, but if there's trouble, we BOTH had better be there!

~ Soccer Jim

Soccer Jim replies...

Doug's advice on positioning seems like "old school" thinking to me. The first problem I have is with the advice to be with 10-15 yards of the ball for the trail (in my mind, this could apply to either). That's too close. It's like the old "ball-string-navel" advice. Today, we advise players to sacrifice proximity for a wider be where you can see as many players as possible.

His offside advice is also old school. The best approach is to read each game and adjust to what that game demands that day. Some days and times you have to be EXACTLY in line with the 2nd to last defender if you are going to catch that head lean before the ball is passed. Other days and games, you can be 25 yards up field from the OS line, and you'll catch the rare (actually, it will probably never happen!) ONE TIME an attacker is lazy getting back from a quick transition.

You should have to work pretty hard in most dual games. I find them tougher than the DSC because I push up and in all the time, and always have to make those sprinting transitions. They are not for Referees who think of a 2-man as a refuge for being out of shape!

~ Soccer Jim

Gil Weber replies...


Patrick said, and I agree, the in a Dual System we must be very aware of the type of fouls our partner is calling. (This actually also applies to our "beloved" 3-whistle system in Florida.)

And I agree with his statement that we should not throw our partner under the bus. But I also believe we have to get it right, and if our partner has clearly screwed the pooch we have to step in.

Example, A couple of years ago I was doing a Dual with one of those guys who seem to be full time high school Referees. No matter what sport is in season, they're officiating that sport. So this guy was definitely NOT a soccer guy.

At one point the GK on his end is punting the ball. The guy blows the whistle, raises his hand, and indicates an IFK. I can see no possible reason for an IFK. There were no opponents anywhere nearby who might have been whistled for interfering with the GK's release of the ball.

Given the signal for IFK it was a complete mystery call as far as I could tell.

So I rushed over to him and asked what he was calling. "The GK handled the ball just outside the penalty area as he was kicking it," he said.

So I first quietly explained that it likely was utterly trivial in the circumstances given that no opponents were anywhere nearby and the opponents clearly had not been unfairly disadvantaged by this. Then I explained that if he were going to call handling it had to be a DFK, not an IFK.

He looked at me with that "OH, SHIT" look in the eyes, and it was obvious he had no clue when it came to soccer officiating.

So we restarted with an IFK, everyone got on with the game, and that was the end of the incident. Hopefully he went back and re-read his high school rule book regarding IFKs and DFKs.

So sometimes really stupid mistakes get made. Then we have to uphold the integrity of the game by correctly applying the rules when our partner very obviously makes an inexcusable error. We do it quietly, without throwing the partner under the bus, but we must do it.

Just my opinion, of course.
Gil (the original)

Thomas Stagliano replies....

There have been some excellent comments and suggestions this week related to the Dual System.

Here are my points of view:

Instead of thinking of the Dual System having one less referee than the DSC, Think of the Dual System having One More Referee than the Solo system........

Given that line of thought, with the Dual System, you, at first, have two Referees working a solo system in their half of the field, with a partner protecting their back.......

As the Lead Referee (attack towards your goal line) you are the Only one responsible for calling the offside infraction.


However, because you have a partner protecting your back, you can go in deeper towards the goal line and, therefore, there are more times you are "nearly properly lined up" to determine whether an attacker was in an offside position when the ball was last touched by a team mate.

Yet, not all the time, so you will use the same metrics as a Solo Referee:

You will still use "dead reckoning" to determine where the attackers are relative to the defenders. And, like in a solo match, when in Doubt, call the offside infraction.

Once they adjust (by about a yard) the game becomes that much easier to call.

(The DSC uses the reverse mantra of When in Doubt keep the flag down. However the DSC has Two Referees who are there Primarily to assist with offside infractions.....)

Because the Dual System is more like the solo system, you will be Into the field and play will flow around you. There will be times that you won't have a perfect view of ball out of play over the touch line. Live with it. You are not there as an Assistant Referee, you are there as part of a Team of CRs. Act that way.

Sprinting... There is a Lot more sprinting in the Dual System than in the solo or DSC systems. One must be... "Much more fit for a Dual System".


My mantra? Try at All times to be within 40 yards of my partner (45 yards at most) in a straight line.

Therefore, when play is near my partner's touchline, I am near the center of the field, opposite the near goal post.......

Foul in my partner's attacking third of the field? As the Trail Referee I Sprint to opposite the spot. If my partner is having issues with the wall, I come over and set the wall, while my partner gets to the best position to be for the restart. The Lead Referee Always blows the whistle for a restart of a DFK or IFK. Period.

On corner kicks, the Lead Referee is near the goal line (off the field) about 5 yards from the near goal post.
The trail ref is just outside the Penalty Area, about 12 yards wide of the other goal post.

What about a counter attack?

Well, what about a counter attack in a solo system?????

Indeed in a solo system I am on the goal line for CKs, so already I have gained twenty yards in the Dual System!!!!!

The Lead Referee (or closest Referee) has first shot at YELLING... "Play On".

Better to be Late with the whistle and correct, than early and dead-wrong..... (same in all forms of Refereeing....)

The Dual System requires two fit CRs. If you take that attitude the game will flow just nicely.....

And for those who are hung up on DSC for high school soccer:

Do you really have enough Referees to cover all of those games in the afternoon at 3:45pm kick-off?

{We have 650 active High School Referees in Eastern MA, and we can barely get two on varsity and JV games and one on freshmen and 8th grade games} For U16 and U18 town travel soccer in your area, how many critical offside calls are made in a typical game under the DSC? Two or less (around here that is common). Might as well put two CRs on the field to control the players of varying size and skill (15 to 18 years old.)

And under All conditions, Enjoy the game.

For if the Referees are not having fun, then it is most likely no one else is either......

All the best.

- Stag

Patrick Duffy replies...

I will agree with Gil's statement and, perhaps, I should clarify what I mean by 'not throwing out partner under the bus.'

We want to get the decisions right and look good doing it, but, if we have to choose between those two goals, and sometimes we do, choose to get the decision right.

But sometimes we can be lead into temptation by players or coaches making "comments" or "questions" about things that our partner is doing. I'm talking about things that are judgment, perhaps on the far side of the field, where what happened may or may not be obvious. You don't know what he's doing either and you're not a fan of your partner. You still don't tell the coach something like, "I don't know where they get these guys," or words to that effect. You are a team out there and you don't sell out your partner in the hope that the coach won't turn on you.

Gil, you have my sympathy. We don't have guys that are simply this uninformed about the rules. I don't mean that they know them perfectly, but we rarely have material errors in rules. Judgment, of course, is another matter. YMMV.

~ Patrick Duffy

Dennis Wickham replies...

The key to positioning for the Dual is also the problem.

Many Referees think like an Assistant Referee in a DSC. They don't cross the half way line. They hug the touchline. They make offside decisions the priority.

The Dual, IMO, demands that the Referee think like a Center Referee whenever trailing play. Fouls are the priority. Being near play usually can bring you to the edge of the penalty area and the middle of the field.

But, play always transitions the other way. The Dual System then demands that the Referee think like an Assistant Referee as soon as play shifts. The Referee needs to sprint back - usually taking a position closer to the touchline than any attacker. Offside is now the priority.

That means, the Referee always needs to take a position that makes recovery possible. The Referee needs greater awareness to anticipate what the teams are doing. 3-4-3 verse a 1-3-4-2 means that someone will always be testing the offside line. A single attacker against a flat backline usually means that the Referee can cheat closer to play.
Moreover, the speed and skill of play may dictate that even a fit Referee may not be able to recover from a position down in the coffin corner.

At some point in every match, I will get too deep, and have to sprint back when a player does something unexpected. So, every pregame includes the following discussion:

If you get stuck, turn and run back as fast as you can. When I see your back, I will move to the middle of the field and cover all play until I see you turn. Please do the same for me.

~ Dennis Wickham

Reza Pazirandeh replies...

Agreed... Yet I have been in situations where my partner's call was so flawed both in terms of judgment and application of the laws/rules (like giving a FK to the keeper after cautioning the keeper for elbowing an opponent in the PA!!) that you have to come up with a creative explanation to tell the coach so you do not come across like an idiot and at the same time not say anything demeaning about your partner. Of course, in these situations one has to step in to right the wrong.

~ Reza Pazirandeh

Chris Mohr replies...

>> Patrick said, and I agree, the in a Dual System we must be very aware of the type of fouls our partner is calling.
(This actually also applies to our "beloved" 3-whistle system in Florida.)

And I agree with his statement that we should not throw our partner under the bus. <<

Despite your best efforts to adapt to your partner's foul and game control sensibilities, there are potential land mines in using verbal communications with players for dynamic game control that don't exist in single-whistle DSC (and which would normally be considered good game management practice by a CR). Overtly signaling advantage (by word or gesture) or when some sort of (what seems to you perfectly fair) physical contact between opponents occurs, saying "nothing there" can quickly dig an awkward hole if a split-second later you partner whistles and points (and in the case of advantage, points *against* the player
you were giving advantage to!)

These aren't the only situations where conflict between your words and your partner's actions (or vice versa) can quickly dig a hole, but they're the clearest for illustrative purposes.

OF COURSE, it's already been mentioned that the trail normally has primary responsibility for fouls, the lead for offside, which helps mitigate against this sort of conflict out in the middle and far side of the field from the Lead Referee, or even on the near side of the Lead Referee when there's clear potential for an offside situation and the Lead Referee's attention is plainly focused on that more than immediate play on the ball.

HOWEVER, the situation most potentially ripe for digging holes is when the incident is in the near vicinity of the Lead Referee (especially when the momentary distracting risk of an offside situation is relatively minimal) and the Trail Referee is 40+ yards away. BTW: in that situation, the PLAYERS AND COACHES are expecting the LEAD REFEREE to make the foul judgment call Yea or Nay, and on whom, regardless of what orthodox dual methodology might theoretically suggest.

CLASSIC EXAMPLE: A couple of weeks ago, white central midfielder sends a long diagonal ball toward a spot near my near touchline and ten yards or so into blue's defensive half of the field, with a white attacker and blue defender racing to the incoming ball nearly shoulder-to-shoulder. The white attacker gets to the ball a half-step ahead of the blue defender, who tangles over the back of the white player's legs and falls in a heap - clear foul on blue, despite him being the player falling to the ground. Despite this causing the white player to momentarily stumble himself, he's able to continue toward goal with the nearest blue player five yards further down-field but twenty yards away. This incident happened not more than five yards away from me, right in front of me, looking straight at it. Oh, and BTW the white bench is nearby on my side as well. I bark "play on!" and just as I'm about to also give the advantage arm signal, I hear my partner's loud whistle from 40+ yards away on the far side of the field, and he's pointing the other way: Foul on white! ARRRGH!

You could say I could've avoided this by doing/saying nothing, but this doesn't necessarily avoid controversy in this type of situation either - the white players and bench would have objected anyway "that was right in front of him (the Lead Referee) and the other guy calls it from 50 yards away!!??) Back to my situation, the coach did bark an objection to the Trail Referee's contrary call, and the Trail Referee came across the field to card him, rather than leaving it to me to handle the coach only 10 yards from me. UGH!

~ Chris Mohr

Jim Geissman replies...

So what? Whistle takes precedence over advantage call, and this sort of thing will happen occasionally with multiple whistles. So what?

Restart according to the whistle and discuss with the other Referee after the game. The world isn't perfect.

~ Jim Geissman

Chris Mohr replies...

With All Due Respect, you've badly missed seeing the forest for the trees here. Of course we went with my partner's call and card per the protocol you recited, and two whistles inherently risks occasional crossed calls - that's the "trees". Now for the "forest", which is that the cross-up in calls was set up by the very sort of ref-player communications during dynamic play that are considered good practice by a single-whistle Center Referee - and the fact that such a blatantly visible cross-up caused what had been an unremarkable smooth game from an officiating standpoint became notably choppier and chipper from that point on. Since this thread is in response to Roger Domal's request for advice on Dual Mechanics - this cautionary tale seemed in order: how sound player communication habits built from experience as CR in a DSC can lead to game control pitfalls
in a Dual.

There's also an important secondary point here:

Although orthodox Dual Mechanics say the trail has primary responsibility for calling fouls, when dynamic play is in the close vicinity and plain view of the Lead Referee and the Trail Referee is distantly away 40+ yards across the field, EVERYONE else (players, coaches, spectators) expects the Lead Referee to make the foul judgment yeah or nay (and the call or non-call). It never really looks good or sells well for a whistle to come from 40+ yards away on the far side when it's crickets from the Referee only 5 yards from the incident in plain view, and any game control communication to players by the Lead Referee prior to the Trail Referee's whistle risks compounding the problem rather than being constructive.

LET'S CONSIDER A FURTHER INCIDENT... which happened 15 minutes later on during this same game, in which a similar cross-up would have been utterly disastrous (fortunately, it didn't occur).

Less than 10 minutes left in the game, white's now down 1-0, and white's in possession deep in blue's defensive end (and my end as Lead Referee) - white player sends a cross into the PA from the near corner area, and white #11 and a blue defender contest for the incoming ball, and white goes crashing to the ground immediately looking toward me with that palms-up gesture pleading for a PK call. I immediately blow my whistle, saying nothing at first, but start walking briskly toward the spot of the incident, which is also sort of toward the spot, but without pointing at it, leaving indication of the actual call hanging for a few seconds from my horizontal angle, I could clearly see that #11 was trying to sell a classic dive, but I'm not so sure the appearance of a trip might have been more convincing from a more vertical, more opposite angle (e.g. that of the Trail Referee). I then showed #11 a YC for the dive, to the immense relief of the blue players, and without objection from any of #11s white team-mates - they knew it was a dive.

BUT IMAGINE NOW... if instead my partner had also blown his whistle and come running in pointing at the spot - of course, I would have gone along with a complete poker face (but the players confidence in my partner's judgment by both teams would have been in the toilet from then on) - but an even greater tragic farce would have ensued had I followed my DSC-center instincts to quickly show the card to #11 before waiting to see whether my partner and I were on the same page (or at least that he was deferring to me on this call). Working a Dual requires altering some of your accustomed instincts from years as a DSC Referee - the necessary changes are easier to say than to consistently do, especially at first.

~ Chris Mohr

Jim Geissman replies...

Okay, sometimes it's more than just whistle supersedes non-whistle, and the two Referee's can make wildly contradictory calls. But again, IMO that's something we have to expect occasionally and live with when there's more than one whistle. As you suggest, it may be wise to delay some signals when there is risk of contradictory calls -- but when is that?

This discussion makes me think that at half-time I should ask partner if there are any players in his territory who are doing stuff that's borderline foul play and he is either calling or not calling, so that I will be able to make the same calls or non-calls in the second half when those players are in my bailiwick.

~ Jim Geissman

Doug Smith replies...

This might be one (perhaps the only) facet where the "high school officials" have an advantage over the "Soccer Referees". We Soccer Referees have been trained to appreciate a pretty significant hierarchical approach to Refereeing: the Assistant Referee's ask the Referee to stop play (by signaling with the flag), and the Referee decides whether or not to stop play. With a Dual, both Referees are responsible for and have jurisdiction over the entire field of play: a blown whistle, no matter who blows it, stops play, period. So the High School Guys are likely to be more in tune with the collaborative approach.

This leave unanswered a few issues, however. The first is, was the Referee who blew the whistle in (good enough) position to sell that call? One of the noteworthy features of most duals is that Referees tend to be farther away from play; this is no more than an artifact of the greater physical demands that a Dual places on the Referee team. The rubric "if I'm closer to the play than you, it's my call" is not at all appealing to me. What that really says is "this is my end of the field, and over there is your end; don't bother to come over here, because you're sure not going to get any help from me over there". In other words, we each Referee our own zone, and to hell with consistency, not to mention teamwork. The raison d'๊tre of the Dual System is to provide more Law 12 coverage, not less - especially off-the-ball.

The other first issue, in my view more important, (and this is my response to the previous question "So what?") is: was the call right? Or more germanely, was the Referee who blew the whistle in (good enough) position to see what really happened?

This is what makes the Dual a problem. It is not that the partner made that call in "my" zone, it is that I saw what really happened, and my partner just made the wrong call. Some might advocate for the closer Referee, or maybe the "Head" Referee, adjusting the call to the "right" call.

But NF Rule 5-3-1.k precludes that: "[The officials shall] ... not set aside or question decisions made by the other Referee(s) within the limits of his/her respective outlines duties". And there is nothing in 5-3-2 that says that the Head Referee can overrule any decision of the "Other" Referee, with the single exception of whether a goal should be awarded.

If/when I get into that sort of situation in a Dual, the best I can do is get over there and have a short conference with my partner, explaining what I think the call should be, and hoping that they agree. (This is also what I do when, as Assistant Referee, I need the Referee to change a call: beckon her to come over to me, and relate the play as I saw it.) But I can't overrule them, and I can't allow that disagreement to become known to the players/coaches. So, regardless of the system we are using today, if I need a conference, I always ask my partner to nod her head up and down a few times as we are chatting, as I am doing, to make it look as if we are on the same page, and to smile, too. We need to sell teamwork in that moment, even though I might be telling her that that call was absolutely wrong, and she is telling me to go #^@% &!(#)$.

The Dual System requires more compromises than a DSC. We have to make sure that one of the things we don't concede is the correctness of the call(s).

~ Doug Smith

Ed Marco replies...

The biggest problems with the Dual System is amount of space patrolled and partners with little experience and the ability to work as a team.

The space will never shrink unless the Referees working the game are able to be mobile and work hard to cover all areas. Most will never do it.

Most officials working a Dual are trained incorrectly using the thought process, and emphasizing it during the "pre-game", "if you see it, call it."

That philosophy alone allows them to think that even form a long way away that what they may perceive as a foul is a foul and they are going to blow the whistle. It has nothing to do with getting the call right. It has all to do with thinking that they are right.

Most do not have any faith in their partners view point, positioning, and ability to recognize a foul with reasonable thought. They feel the need to blow the whistle because they think there was a foul.

I have a "Slow Whistle" and in a Dual I make sure that my partner knows that I do. I tell them that just because I haven't blown the whistle it doesn't mean I haven't seen the action. They just can't resist blowing the whistle quickly because they saw something not even looking at where I am and what I am doing.

The rule book may not give any more power to the "Head" Referee in a Dual System high school game but if someone blows their whistle in front of me without even thinking where I am and what I am looking at, I have blown my whistle a few times and pointed the other way which, under the rule book, will require a dropped ball.

The Dual System may be more of a compromise to you but it should be more teamwork and emphasized as such instead of giving in so that you appear to working as a team. Too much instruction on getting the colored tape off of the socks and not enough of how to actually be a Referee in a Dual System game.

~ Ed Marco

Jim Geissman replies...

Please speak for yourself about how stupid Dual partners are. But I definitely agree a slow whistle is a good idea in any game, DSC or Dual System, and it can be helpful to remind partners of that. You probably developed the slow whistle in DSC games? You may not be the only one.

~ Jim Geissman

Jim Geissman replies...

Had a U10B game a couple of weeks ago. Early season, the kids don't all know a lot of stuff we all take for granted, so there's a certain amount of teaching.

A pass over the defense and near the halfway line a defender puts his hands up and slows down the ball. It looks like the ball may continue to an attacker, which it does, but he's immediately surrounded and loses possession. Partner, who thinks of me as the Senior Referee because I did the Law 12 session at her training last year, points to me, implying I should make a call -- she saw the handling too, but wants me to call it. I do call it, FK ensues, etc. To me that's a good example of cooperation in a few dimensions. IMO she knows enough that if she were the senior ref, she would take that role.

~ Jim Geissman

Roger Domal replies...

I think the one overriding thing I have discovered so far in my short career in the Dual: No one has been instructed in how to actually run it. There appear to be Anchors on the touch line and a magnetic force field at the half way line. Most of my games have been really easy matches, being a rookie and all. But, not one Referee I have partnered with has run the Dual like this thread describes. I have stuck around to watch some varsity matches after my game has finished, and no one is running the proper way either. I hope what I'm seeing is totally different in your neck of the woods, but this is disheartening.

I have read and re-read this thread, and the NISOA site, and a couple of other places on the internet to gain as much information as I can about positioning. I'm less concerned with who blows the whistle for a restart, and more concerned with where exactly is my partner when I'm looking to set up a PK, or how my partner called a foul throw from at least 70 yards away. Or, today, where the nice gentleman I worked with called PIADM 3x when none was the right number, including the dreaded "you can't play the ball while on the ground."

I cannot imagine this getting better. I will still get there early, tell my partner this is what I'm going to do. I've had 3 guys so far tell me, "yes, that's the way I do it too." They must think they are doing it, but they aren't even close to doing it.

~ Roger Domal

Jim Geissman replies...

When I first started in AYSO in 1979, Dual was the way it was done, unless you happened to be solo. The training was LOTG for laws (1973 edition of Universal LOTG). Mostly we picked it up on our own. Then after leaving soccer because of knee injuries, I returned in 1994 and was given explicit Dual Referee training. It's possible to be a trained Dual Referee -- the training was both the LOTG stuff about what is a foul and restarts, and Dual Referee mechanics, like before.

Now I do Dual in school games and find that some of my partners share what I learned in Dual training, and some don't. If not, I may be out of date, or they are, or both of us are wrong. Can't think of when it mattered, as we manage to figure things out.

~ Jim Geissman

Roger Domal replies...

I see two separate issues here. One is that, for organizations that typically use duals, some of those Referees seem to demonstrate a lesser understanding of the Laws/Rules. I attribute part of that to the different emphasis in training of "school officials": the most important topic, according to my impression of their training philosophy, is the man/match management aspect of riding herd on groups of older teens; and the fine details of the rules by which the game is played receive less stress. (Further, in my region, the NF people pretty much count on the USSF people to provide the rules expertise - but that assertion is admittedly misleading, since, by and large, the overlap between those two groups is well over 90%.)

The second aspect is Dual-specific training. Some dozen years ago, I was privileged to have a Dual-training article published in the NF Pre-season Soccer Guide, briefly outlining the "two-bananas" approach to Dual-Referee positioning that I described last week (though I did not apply that label to it then - that name, and approach, was explained to me by a former colleague, Jim Stanhope; well done, Jim! Carl Schwartz was editor of the Guide at that time. If anyone wants a copy of that piece, Carl would be the most likely source.) But other than the half-dozen pages in the back of the NF Rules book that outline the Dual System (which has not seen any changes in the 26 years since I first saw it), I have found no other Dual-specific training materials in print. Everything I learned was based on on-field training, observation, and feedback from partners.

I have been asked occasionally to present training on the dual. My standard sermon covers three topics: the different duties of the "Head Referee" and the other guy (emphasizing how minimal those differences are); dynamic dual positioning, including application of Referee & V priorities (as applied to Trail and Lead) drawn from the uniformly-more-familiar DSC; and static (restart) positioning, which includes who is responsible for each restart whistle. If anyone wants an outline of my notes, please reply privately. But I warn everyone that the hard part is getting people to actually do it the way I describe. One, it ain't easy - both Dual Referees have to make the commitment to run - both forward and backward - a LOT more than they are used to, and at moments in the match when their DSC experience tells them they can afford to take a little break. Two, I have not met the Referee who could master the method in only a handful of matches. It takes consistent, focused !
Practice, with enlightened feedback from partners, Mentors, and Assessors, over at least a dozen matches. More likely two.

(This may be the most egregious weakness of our training methods, for all Referees, in all systems. We spend a lot of our time working alone, or with minimal feedback from (often) lesser-trained partners. We reinforce our own bad habits, and only get called on them by the rare appearance of an Assessor, or a more-capable, and adequately articulate and motivated, team-mate. Man, it's lonely out here.)

The goal of the method I describe is to have both Referees providing Law 12 coverage for every potential PK situation: that is, when play is in either goal mouth, both Referees are close enough to see and sell the game-changing fouls/non-fouls. That means that the Trail Referee must be within touching distance of the top of the 18, every time play is inside the PA. That means a LOT of sprinting, both to get there, and to get back to cover the offside call on counter-attacks. But I don't know any other way to do it - except to increase the number of Referees (but not, I dare suggest, the number of whistles - but that is a different topic).

~ Roger Domal

Richard Critz replies...

I'm sure this method for running a Dual works well with appropriately fit Referees. I suspect the difficulty Roger is seeing this relates to its failure to acknowledge the elephant in the room: to wit, the vast, and by that I mean overwhelmingly vast, majority of the officials assigned to HS matches would likely depart from a basic Cooper test in the back of an ambulance. Let's not even contemplate their performance on the FIFA interval test.

My son's game on Monday provides an all-too-common example of this: PK is awarded in response to a foul. Restart is delayed for nearly a minute because it took that long for the Trail Referee, who was moving as rapidly as we saw him move the entire game, to reach the top of the penalty area where the kick was to be taken. This was no middle school game; it was a varsity boys match. Are there more fit officials available who could have done the match? Sure, but they're doing middle school girls games because they haven't been in the old boys' club long enough.

~ Richard Critz

Patrick Duffy replies...

Well, Richard, that may be your experience.

In my association, you run the NISOA physical if you want to do varsity games.

That doesn't mean that simply doing the test means you get varsity games.

If you "average a zero," not going to happen.

The overweight guys do sub-varsity games.

The formerly greats tend to be the ones failing the test.

Our high school association's membership is up 17% this year over last year, so we can afford to put the better Referees on the varsity games and those who are slow do something else.

~ Patrick Duffy

Doug Smith replies...

Patrick fails to mention that most Duals are scheduled for JV matches; most varsity matches are allocated three slots. Granted, by 3-4 hours before match time, the 3-man varsity matches with only two Referees currently assigned either get reset to Duals (and the Duals with only one Referee assigned get reset to solos), or the Assignor starts moving people around. (One Referee on a varsity match is considered an emergency situation, and Referees are instructed to not start a varsity match with only one Referee without specific permission from the Assignor.) Which is better, to have two Referees on the JV match on field 1, or to have one on that match and the other on the JV2 match on field 2, adjacent fields, same start times (typically 4PM weekdays)?

But the goal seems to be to have vanishingly few varsity Duals, and those only at the lower levels. The Assignor makes a strenuous effort to have 3-man crews on all the 6A, 5A, and most 4A varsity matches - there is good recognition that the higher-level/speed matches are not well-served by Duals. It's not that too few of our people are fit enough, it's that NO ONE (except the guys who should be NISOA Nationals) can keep up with a Dual in those matches. The players are just too fast, too able to move the ball down the field and back, for all but the most fleet to keep up with play. Or, to compromise, and accept that the Referees will typically be 35-40 yards away from the critical challenges.

There may be an old-boys' aspect with respect to varsity assignments in some locales, but I suspect there is a much stronger numbers-game component: too few Referees available on weekday afternoons, when so many schools need to play. The only solution is to increase the numbers - raising the capabilities comes later. Get them in the program first, then help them get better.

~ Doug Smith

Patrick Duffy replies...

Well, Richard and I, being from different parts of the country, have different experiences of the relative fitness level of high school officials. Yes, our mileage does vary (literally and figuratively) and that's part of the value of this list server. Sometimes, those of us on this list get to be like the blind men trying to describe an elephant. One of us is touching the side, another has the tusk and a third has the tail, and then we start arguing about what an elephant is like.

Perception is reality. I know. That seems terribly unjust and/or incorrect. I struggled with that for a long time. In the end, I was forced to recognize its truth. If the players and coaches think you are slow, you are slow. It doesn't matter what you do on a fitness test, what you did on a game five years ago or a game last week at a different level. If they think you can't keep up with play, you can't keep up. That means that they believe you can't see what's happening, especially if what's happening disadvantages their team. "You can't make that call from there!" If you can't see it, you are just guessing.

Time out for a non-violent war story. We had a boys' varsity game a few weeks ago. Final score, 0-0. Except that the Referee and Assistant Referee # 1 ruled that a shot by the visiting team had gone wide, despite their claims that the ball had gone in and then escaped from the net, out the back corner. I was sent a video of the shot. The camera was about 40 yards out, so it had a pretty broad view of the full width of the field at that end. The ball clearly did go in the goal and went out the back of the net. Neither the Referee nor the Assistant Referee were in the picture at any time. Ouch. Do you think their decision, even if wrong, would have had more credibility if they had been within 40 yards of play?

As Alfred Kleinaitis used to say, "Show us you can run. If you can't run, there isn't anything we can do. If you can run, we can teach you to Referee." Well, yes, that's true, but there are limitations on how successful that teaching can be and, therefore, how far up the mountain you can climb, yes, even if you are Usain Bolt. Alfred was talking, of course, about teaching the Laws of the Game, their interpretation and the mechanics of officiating. 'When you see this, do that.' And, frankly, most Referees (maybe not those on this list but I'm talking about 144,000 USSF Referees in the country and who knows how many high school officials) are still working on learning all of that stuff. A lot of Referees, too many Referees, struggle with getting much above a passing grade on written tests. I know because I've seen the test results. The players and coaches may not be able to get a better score themselves, but they are not going to accept the decisions of a Referee who !... only gets 3/4 of their decisions right. Look at how much grief we get over even one decision that isn't correct.

At the same time, though, some Referees just 'don't get it.' They don't understand why players and coaches do the things they do at games. They don't understand how normal human beings interact with each other. They don't understand how to talk to people in ways that will elicit cooperation rather than resentment or oppositional defiance. And, I'm sure, others on this list can describe other ways that Referees don't have the right personality, attitude or social skills to be a successful Referee. Teaching that stuff is very, very difficult. For some people, lots and lots of experience on the field may teach them what they need to know in this area. How much experience will be required is, of course, going to vary by the individual. Unfortunately, I have to deal with some Referees that still don't get it. As one friend said about a particular Referee, "He doesn't have ten years of experience. He has his first year repeated ten times." They could Referee for 100 years and still be "a problem." As an Administrator, I have to help those people, for the good of the game, realize that it's not working.

~ Patrick Duffy

Jim Geissman replies...

I didn't say Dual Referee's don't need to run, rather that most differences in training, such as who whistles on a given restart, can be worked out by communicating. It's important to work, assist each other and cooperate, rather than imitating a statue over on the touchline. Even a Referee who's not as mobile as one might like can contribute if he will do those things.

~ Jim Geissman

+-+ BACK TO TOP +-+ ~~~ +-+ The DUAL System Criteria and Mechanics +-+

Jim Geissman asks about the Dual Referee Whistle on... Restart

In this Dual Referee discussion there have been two positions offered on which Referee blows the whistle on a restart. The Trail Referee is more like CR in DSC, but perhaps Lead Referee is right in some circumstances, some jurisdictions.

What's right in different situations?

If you're responding, please identify your specific context: NFHS, common sense, and any other universe you may know. I won't request the FIFA/USSF universe where Dual is not permitted, even though I suspect it occurs there. My early training was on Dual in that world, so I have internalized some rules

~ Jim Geissman

Doug Smith replies... about the Dual Referee Whistle on... Restart

This is really not a matter for debate:

The Dual guidance in the back of the NF Rules Book specifies exactly which Referee is responsible for the restart whistle for every restart.

I categorize them as follows... The oddball case is the throw-in: the Referee on that side of the field has the restart whistle. Other than that, the trail referee has the restart whistle for all the "common" restarts: kick-off's and goal kicks; the Lead Referee has the restart whistle for all the "uncommon" restarts: FKs, PKs, & CKs. (I label them as uncommon because it is not normal to need a whistle on those restarts, or they happen comparatively infrequently.)

I have yet to figure out who has the restart whistle for a drop [sic] ball - the book says Lead Referee, but since I don't know (yet) which way play is going, I can't (yet) tell who is Lead Referee and who is Trail Referee.

The one that is most different from DSC is the PK: it is the guy on the goal line, not the guy on the 18, who signals for the PK to be taken.

I once had to go stand inside the post to prevent a Dual partner from signaling for the PK from the trail position.

He asked me why I wasn't ready yet; I told him that I was waiting for him to be ready for my... signal!

~ Doug Smith

Jim Geissman replies... about the Dual Referee Whistle on... Restart

Thanks, Doug. I suspect in High School, you don't want to have an uncommon restart until the Lead Referee is in position, and the way he indicates he is in position is by having the whistle for that restart.

~ Jim Geissman

Vince DeFranco replies... about the Dual Referee Whistle on... Restart

How about the one who has the ball in his hands is the Lead Referee, at least for the time being, until some sort of organization occurs with the play and someone takes control of the ball and starts doing something with it. I would further posit, to follow along with your theory here, that if a whistle is needed (not common), that the Lead Referee be the one responsible for using the whistle. I would say it would feel way too awkward to have the Trail Referee blowing the whistle while or right before the Lead Referee was dropping the ball. If I'm the one performing the restart, I'd like to have full control of the restart.


~ Vince DeFranco

Soccer Jim replies... about the Dual Referee Whistle on... Restart

Generally, the whistle belongs to the official "closest to the ball" with some exceptions for position on the field, i.e., in the coffin corner, most restart whistles belong to the official on that side (not end) of the field, even if the Lead Referee is closer. As I mentioned earlier, around here we generally do not adhere to the book on PKs, with the Trail Referee coming up to manage the ball and use the whistle, just like the Center Referee would do in the DSC.

~ Soccer Jim

Doug Smith replies... about the Dual Referee Whistle on... Restart

My comment was meant to point out a logical inconsistency in the NF guidance (not the only one). In practice, I don't remember the last time I administered a drop [sic] ball in an NF match; but when next I do, I will assume that the Referee with the ball in her hands will be the one to blow the whistle. One could make a case that the other Referee should be the one to signal, if for no other reason than to ensure that both Referees are truly ready for the restart, but that might be too great a demand for Inter-Referee coordination for some of my dual partners.

~ Doug Smith

+-+ BACK TO TOP +-+ ~~~ +-+ Dual Referee Whistle on... Restart +-+

Andrew Castiglione ~ The DUAL System Criteria and Mechanics


Pre-Game for Soccer Referees in the Dual System:

• Referee and Alternate Referee work together as a team.
• Head Referee outlines the Lead and Trail directions (Left or Right).
• Head Referee designates touch line and end line responsibilities for the officiating team.
• Review proper mechanics and techniques.
• If unsure of a call, establish eye contact with each other.
• If both Referees whistle simultaneously, defer to head Referee for call / indication.
• Referees stress eye contact between officials whenever possible.
• Recording / Time keeping duties and procedures are reviewed.
• Questions / uncertainties are discussed and cleared up.
• Decide touch line / end line responsibilities.
• Referees change sides of field at half-time and lead in the opposite direction

Match Situations:


• During the match, each Referee has responsibility for one end line and one touch line.
• As Lead Referee, move even with the last defender, parallel with the touch line.
• Pinch in toward the goal as you near the end line.
• As Trail Referee, move with play behind the attack.
• Watch for any fouls on or around the ball.
• Both Referees should try to "box in" players at all times.
• Pinch center when and where possible to gain a better view of play.


• Lead Referee stands near to even with the second to last defender.
• Make eye contact with the Trail referee.
• Trail Referee should be in position to judge encroachment and proper kick-off.
• Trail Referee (behind the ball) blows the whistle to start.


• Raise hand (open palm) overhead.
• Sound the whistle and establish eye contact with your partner.
• Release substitutes according to pre-game agreement.
• Whistle on restart to be discussed during the pre-game conference
  (usually Referee on the touch line of the team substituting).


• Indicate direction by raising arm up (with open palm) at 45-degree angle.
• [Optional] Indicate spot for throw-in.
• [Optional] Whistle


• Signal with arm extended parallel to the ground and pointing to the goal area.
• Look for the proper placement of ball in the goal area.
• Then move to the top of the penalty area or even with the second to last defender.
  Use judgment based on the players' positions.
• Trail Referee watches for encroachment, and kick leaving penalty area.


• Lead Referee signal with arm extended to nearest corner flag.
• Lead Referee takes a position on the end line but off the field at a point in-between the goal post and the outer
   edge of the penalty area.
• Lead Referee watches for ball placement, encroachment, and kick leaving play.
• Hold position for possible goal judgment.
• The Trail Referee takes a position near the top of the penalty area.
• The Trail Referee watches activity in and around the goal mouth and off the ball.
• Prepare to make judgment on deflections, fouls and unusual situations.


• Lead Referee takes a position on the goal line, at least six yards from goal.
• Lead Referee serves as goal judge, rules on keeper movement, and taking of the kick.
• Trail Referee takes a position at the top corner of the penalty area.
• Trail Referee focuses on the kicker and possible encroachment prior to the kick.
• Trail Referee (behind the ball) blows the whistle for the kick.


• Lead Referee signals properly and moves back towards the halfway line while observing player behavior and
   establishing eye contact with the Trail Referee.


• (Either or both Referees) sound the whistle.
• Move to the position to indicate and implement the proper restart.


• Lead Referee moves with the ball as quickly as possible to the goal line.
• Anticipate play near the end line (rebounds, off side, fouls, etc.)


• After the whistle is sounded to stop play.
• Lead Referee takes a position even with the second to last defender.
• Trail Referee deals with possible encroachment and the restart.
• Trail Referee (behind the ball) blows the whistle for the restart.

FREE KICK NEAR GOAL that is not a quick restart by the kicking team:

• Lead Referee sets the defensive wall, then takes a position even with the second to last defender, ready for possible
   end line responsibilities (on a shot or rebound).
• Trail Referee deals with possible encroachment and the restart.
• Trail Referee (behind the ball) blows the whistle for the restart.

Remember “Dual in Dual System”... is NOT spelled “Duel” like in a who is the boss here.

As always, Teamwork is the key to success!!!

~ Andrew Castiglione

Soccer Jim replies... about The DUAL System Criteria and Mechanics

This is a pretty good pre-game for Dual, and I like the variation from "book" for PKs. However, how many you who do Duals actually SWITCH SIDES at the half? We NEVER do that in Ohio - USA.

~ Soccer Jim

Gil Weber replies... about The DUAL System Criteria and Mechanics

Can't speak for the other high school chapters (associations) in Florida - USA, but in our chapter we NEVER switch at half time.

~ Gil Weber (the original)

William Carey replies... about The DUAL System Criteria and Mechanics

Massachusetts - USA switches at half

~ Bill Carey

Morten Mikkelsen replies... about The DUAL System Criteria and Mechanics

In Pennsylvania - USA, always switch at the half. Including OT

~ Morten Mikkelsen

Ken Barckley replies... about The DUAL System Criteria and Mechanics

Good suggestions for those of us who are High School Referees and use the Dual System in a good many of our assignments. However, my understanding is that the Dual System is not an approved system for conducting AYSO matches. It is my belief that any Referees using the Dual System in an AYSO game are working outside the scope of their Referee job description and may therefore miss out on protections that the Volunteer Protection Act (VPA) brings to their volunteer service.

Here's what the AYSO National Referee Program manual says: "If only two qualified officials are available for a match, one should assume the duties of the Referee and the other should become a neutral Assistant Referee. A “club linesman”, if available, may be used after receiving instructions from the Referee. If a “club linesman” is not available, the Referee must assume the duties of the missing Assistant Referee as is done in the single Referee system."

~ Ken Barckley - 11/K/5

Andrew Castiglione replies ~ The DUAL System Criteria and Mechanics

To Quote the AYSO National Referee Program...

"If a “Club Linesman” is not available, the Referee must assume the duties of the missing Assistant Referee as is done in the single Referee system."

Is that not protecting to the Volunteer Referee to assume the role of two physical Referee's?

So one Referee has the Pitch/Line and the other has the Line only!
How about the one Assistant Referee left is only that a... Assistant Referee [Most/Some... Volunteers do not what to be the Referee]!

Have you not put un-due pressure on that Referee?

You are putting the Volunteer Referee in a Catch-22 are you not? To save face for the program or save face to the Pedigree of the Referee position.

If, in that position - Abandon the match... and put shame on the Referee Administration!!!

Let's face it a "Club Linesman" is for show only nothing else, to give the spectators a visual comfort for fairness, to which it is not!

So goes the not protecting to the Volunteer Referee and the Volunteer Protection Act (VPA)... what an oxymoron policy!

~ Andrew Castiglione

Jim Geissman replies... about The DUAL System Criteria and Mechanics

I like to switch sides at the half in Middle School games, but sometimes partner refuses, and will only do the Assistant Referee side (right side). I think that's odd because I know these folks also do CRs running on the other side.
Similarly, sometimes when I say we should do a right diagonal DSC because of the sun, I get a very negative reaction from some Assistant Referee's.

~ Jim Geissman

Jim Geissman replies... about The DUAL System Criteria and Mechanics

IMO when you have only two certified officials available, using a club linesman adds nothing and may even subtract from the Referee performance.*

The question should be..., How to get the most value from two certified competent officials? IMO Dual is a good answer to that question.

I wonder why Dual Referee's are forbidden. I work Dual regularly in school games, and the system works okay, although it's not perfect. It's interesting that a solo Referee is okay, or CR plus one AR, but not two CRs. Someday FIFA may approve the use of two CRs (that has been experimented with on the presumption that it makes sense, but so far rejected; FIFA has instead moved to technology while UEFA has placed additional Referee's on the goal line as the preferred approach to fill blind spots), and then Dual will be okay.

* unless the "Club Linesman" happens to be a certified official in mufti, but then you really have three certified officials.

~ Jim Geissman

Charlie Johnson replies... about The DUAL System Criteria and Mechanics

Even the exalted FIFA only recognized the three person Dual System of Control.

When I was an active National Referee, I absolutely would use the recommended DSC. As a Referee on the field you have a FAR superior view of the match. When you are on the touchline or near it, your view of the match is obstructed by players.

High school only uses the DSC in play-off games because they are too cheap to pay for three Referees.

Suck it up and do it right! ~ The AYSO Party Line

~ Charlie Johnson -- Area Director 10D ~ American Youth Soccer Organization

Jim Geissman replies... about The DUAL System Criteria and Mechanics

Instead of repeating the AYSO Party Line, consider this question:

You have two competent Referees, but only two.

What's the best way to utilize their abilities? You can shanghai an untrained third official if you wish.

BTW, this is meant as a technical question on Referee practice about what is the best way to deal with the situation when you have two but not three competent Referees. Some people seem to confuse this with a question about what is permitted by various Referee organizations. I know what is and isn't permitted.

That's not the point of this question.

~ Jim Geissman

Patrick Duffy replies... about The DUAL System Criteria and Mechanics

Better than the Assistant Referee's, as a result of them being in their own little Assistant Referee world, positioning themselves for an opposite hand diagonal and the teams are already in position, waiting for us Referees to get our Referee act together so they can play the game. I decided to just do an opposite hand diagonal. Men's open 1st division, both teams largely Hispanic and I am being assessed. :) Two minutes in, I make eye contact with the guy who should have been Assistant Referee # 1 and his expression told me he was thinking, "I screwed up, didn't I?" Yes, you did, Mr. SYRA and League Assignor. The Assessor's first question was, "Pat, I was curious why you did an opposite hand diagonal." Assistant Referee # 1 volunteered, "I was just testing his cognitive flexibility".

~ Patrick Duffy

Doug Smith replies... about The DUAL System Criteria and Mechanics

My comment was meant to point out a logical inconsistency in the NF guidance (not the only one). In practice, I don't remember the last time I administered a drop [sic] ball in an NF match; but when next I do, I will assume that the Referee with the ball in her hands will be the one to blow the whistle. One could make a case that the other Referee should be the one to signal, if for no other reason than to ensure that both Referees are truly ready for the restart, but that might be too great a demand for Inter-Referee coordination for some of my dual partners.

~ Doug Smith

Jim Geissman replies... about The DUAL System Criteria and Mechanics

I once had the Assistant Referee's decide I should run a right diagonal without telling me. I found out as I was about to start the game, looked to the Assistant Referee's for a thumbs-up, and they weren't there! A form of hazing, I think.

Remember that, Lee?

~ Jim Geissman

Ray Vick replies... about The DUAL System Criteria and Mechanics

I am sure we have discussed Dual System vs LDSC (Lumpy Diagonal System of Control) but I will review my thoughts again.

The Dual System has the disadvantage of sacrificing some game control because the Referee's are not in as good a position to call fouls in the center of the field.

Usually failure to call fouls are not game-determiners like the failure to call Offside is. So on many turn a rounds the Trail Referee is more out of position to call fouls in the center and the Lead Referee is focused on Offside.
Where this gets real dicey is in very physical games especially the boys where failure to recognize their often well-practiced tactical fouls can pretty quickly degenerate into a brawl.

But the LDSC has a similar problem in that it somewhat increases the Referee's ability to recognize fouls but it reduces his/hers (or the Referee team's) ability to correctly call offside. To compensate for lack of an Assistant Referee the Center Referee will cheat toward the end of the field without an Assistant Referee which means fouls in the corner opposite the Assistant Referee are harder to see. And he/she will try and compensate for lack of an Assistant Referee by trying to cover both corners and the center of the field on that end without an Assistant Referee.

Which is better?

In my opinion having two (qualified) Referee's ON THE FIELD is always better than using one of them as a Assistant Referee.

The above are my logic for having more confidence in the Dual.

To those who preach the AYSO party line I would ask?

(1) Where is the LDSC taught in AYSO, and

(2) Where is its companion the AOFSC (All Over the Field System of Control) taught in AYSO?

After all, if we haven't been properly trained for these alternatives to DSC...

Where is AYSO's protection under the law?

~ Ray Vick

Rick Burke replies... about The DUAL System Criteria and Mechanics

It's not a matter of preaching the AYSO party line....

I tried to get several ideas across yesterday and kind of got hit upside the head for it.

(1) Where is the LDSC taught in AYSO?, and ....

USSF and all its fingers (of which AYSO is but one) teach to the LOTG. LOTG and the ATR specific and USSF & AYSO teach to the DSC. LOTG and the ATR state that Assistant Referee's are preferred but not required and that club linesmen can be used.

(2) ... Where is its companion the AOFSC (All Over the Field System of Control) taught in AYSO? After all, if we haven't been properly trained for these alternatives to DSC where is AYSO's protection under the law.

Again, not just an AYSO issue -- I see it in my USSF games as well. Sometimes, even when I get Assistant Referee's they aren't qualified or ready for the games. And we are protected while we stay within the LOTG and the Rules & Regulations.

Gentlemen & Ladies, rather than turn the system on its head to satisfy your own preferences, work to fix what you see as broken -- or move on. Don't make up new systems LDSC & AOFSC -- they don't exist. Work to make sure there are enough qualified and trained Referees.

Remember -- you accepted the job. Lives with the conditions of your employment -- or move on.

~ Rick Burke - Advanced Coach AYSO, Advanced Referee AYSO, USSF 8

Ray Vick replies... about The DUAL System Criteria and Mechanics

I sort of think advice like "Lives with the conditions of your employment -- or move on." is very preachy and very poor advice to a region that can't get enough volunteers in any capacity.

It is also worse than preachy to not want to discuss the question of the pros and cons of the Dual System because the supreme power of the universe has ordained the DSC. To claim the game is for the kids and our highest obligation as Referee's is game safety while ignoring those very principals when discussing Refereeing is plainly putting the cart before the horse.

Maybe its time for AYSO to leave USSF so it can look to reason rather than simply tradition to try and solve some of its problems.

~ Ray Vick

Ray Vick replies... about The DUAL System Criteria and Mechanics

All you guys and gals in the know about current AYSO Referee classes and nobody can tell me if there is any teaching on how to Referee a game without Assistant Referee's or with only one Assistant Referee! So the current class content pretends that every game will have a full crew and teaches new Referee's that?

And there are those of you who consider that proper training?

At least when I was instructing I would put a dose of reality into the content to prepare them for the fact that as new Referee's in our region they would almost never have two neutral Assistant Referee's and many times would have none. I would even describe the dual system so they would know there are alternatives to the LDSC (or should I say SDSC - semi-diagonal system of control). I would also teach them about the significant issues with club lines.

And how can any of you claim that a single Referee is practicing the DSC or that DSC describes the "system" used by a single Referee on a game?

Unless there is a center and two lines there is no DSC so we need to come up with a couple of new terms to describe those "systems" with one or no Assistant Referee's.

~ Ray Vick

Barbara Passman replies... about The DUAL System Criteria and Mechanics


I teach our Basic course in my region.

The lesson plan really does not go into much detail bout the three man system or DSC.

Yes, the three man system is implied when teaching Referee signaling (Assistant Referee signals) and the unit on Offside infraction depicts and implies ,to a large extent a three man system.

DSC and 3 Man system comes more into its own at the Intermediate level The Regional Referee is being prepared for younger player's games, U10 where there rarely are three badge Referees.

The Basic course covers the engagement of club linesmen.

The material in the course is sparse but as with other parts of the course, the expectation is the instructor will flesh out the material.

I certainly , as do my Assistant Instructors speak to the fact of being the solitary Referee at the U10 games, how to manage the game and using Club Linesmen.

It has been several years since I taught the class. At that time there was much made of the three man team which was good and necessary instruction.

But there was nothing about Refereeing solo or with one neutral Assistant Referee. So I would take 15 minutes to talk about that and the Dual System which they will occasionally see in So. Calif. especially if they have kids in high school.

~ Barbara Passman

Jim Geissman replies... about The DUAL System Criteria and Mechanics

Many of our Referee's start as Junior Referee's in U8 or younger. It seems to me they Referee for the yellow striped shirt and popsicles. They also Referee solo.

~ Jim Geissman

A final, thought...
And yet...So simple + = ~ but so effective!!!

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