Important: Special Letter to Soccer Coaches & Coaches Code of Conduct

May 19, 2015News

From Kyle Atkins, Major League Soccer Referee & Director of the Referee Development Academy

Our spring season is rapidly coming to a close.  This has been an exciting and busy year with a record number of games games, tournaments, and opportunities to compete and improve.  This season also marked the launch of our new Referee Development Academy Program (RDAP).

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the RDAP,  our mission is solely focused on the development of our young referees. We provide our referees with training, guidance and mentoring throughout the season to help our officials better understand the ins and outs of this game we all love.   During the season, our RDAP staff and mentors have been busy training and working with referees during the games, in training sessions and at the fields.

This season we have placed an emphasis on coaches completing our online referee evaluation form, as well as providing feedback on referee performance to our staff. During the offseason, our mentor program will be hard at work further developing our referee evaluation system. Along with an improved evaluation system, throughout the season, RDAP will be recognizing the hard work of our top development referees with monthly awards!

Our league has grown into the largest leagues and tournament hosts in the United States.  We are fortunate to have two incredible world class facilities in the Overland Park Soccer Complex and Swope Soccer Village. Our soccer family here is a large ecosystem which is comprised of six major components, players, coaches, facilities, clubs, parents/fans/spectators, and referees. A major goal we have set for our organization is to create a positive and nurturing environment where our referees can grow and improve.

The improvement of our officials is not something that we can do alone though. The training, mentoring, and guidance we look to provide would be fruitless without your help. With that in mind, HSA has created the coach and parent code of conduct, which can be found on our website. Striving to follow the code will, over time, provide our young referees with an ideal environment to grow. If our referees are in an unsupportive environment, they lose confidence and motivation, and are likely to stop refereeing after only one season. In fact, historically only the trend has been to lose 50% of referees year to year.  Thanks to leadership efforts and a mentoring program those numbers have increased to retain 60% of the referees.  Obviously, a 40% annual lose still doesn’t work as we all want qualified and experienced referees on all our games. It’s safe to say the more experience you get, the more comfortable you are with the work. The same is true with refereeing. Our young referees are learning the game and how to call it, each and every game.

The recruitment of new officials is an ongoing effort, and we encourage parents, coaches and players to become certified referees. If not to actually referee games and earn some extra money on the weekends, then to get a different perspective and gain a better understanding of the sport. Retaining our young referees, though, is vital to the success of our program. The more referees we can get to come back each year, the more experience we have to develop!

Ultimately, we are doing all of this for the betterment of the game and our kids, so that our players have the best possible environment to showcase their skills, learn, grow, and enjoy all that the beautiful game has to offer. Thank you for your continued support of the Heartland Soccer Association and the Referee Development Academy Program, we look forward to seeing you out at the fields for the remainder of this season and next!

Coaches Code of Conduct

It is the responsibility of all coaches to maintain the highest standards of conduct for themselves, their players and supporters in all matches. Failure to do so undermines the referee’s authority and the integrity of the game resulting in a hostile environment for players, the referee(s), coaches, assistant coaches and spectators. As role models for all of the participants and spectators, coaches participating in a Heartland Soccer Association sanctioned event are expected to be supportive of, and to acknowledge the effort, good play and sportsmanship on the part of ALL players from either team in a contest.

By example, coaches and assistant coaches are expected to show that although they are competing in a game, they have respect for their opponent and referees at all times. Heartland Soccer Association will not tolerate negative behavior exhibited either by demonstrative actions and gestures, or verbally by ill-intentioned remarks, including those addressed toward the referees or members of an opposing team. Coaches exhibiting hostile, negative, sarcastic or otherwise ill-intended behavior toward referees, opposing players or coaches will be subject to sanction by the match official, league and tournament officials.

Responsibilities to the Laws of the Game 

  1. Coaches should be thoroughly acquainted with and demonstrate a working knowledge of the Laws of the Game.
  2. Coaches are responsible to assure their players understand the intent as well as the application of the Laws.
  3. Coaches must adhere to the letter and spirit of the Laws of the Game.
  4. Coaches are responsible for their players’ actions on the field and must not permit those to perform with intent of causing injury to opposing players.
  5. The coach must constantly strive to teach good sporting behavior.

Responsibility to Officials

  1. Officials must have the support of coaches, players and spectators.
  2. Coaches must always refrain from criticizing officials in the presence of players or spectators.
  3. Professional respect, before, during and after the game should be mutual. There should be no demeaning dialogue or gestures between official, coach or players.
  4. Coaches must not incite players or spectators or attempt to disrupt the flow of the games.
  5. Comments regarding an official should be made in writing to the referee development academy director via the game evaluation form.
  6. Coaches should not approach officials after the game to discuss calls.
  7. Coaches shall not offer dissent to any call made by the referee(s) at any time.
  8. Coaches are not to address the Referee(s) during the game except to:
    1. Respond to a referee who has initiated a conversation.
    2. Point out emergency or safety issues.
    3. Make substitutions.
    4. Ask the referee, “What is the proper restart (i.e. direction and Indirect Free Kick or Direct Free Kick)”?
    5. Ask for the time remaining in the half.