Play until you hear the whistle

by Ivan Bobanovic | Last updated

One of the most frustrating things to see is when players stop playing the game.  A player thinks they’ve been fouled so they stop and expect a foul to be called, or defenders think the play is offside so they stop, raise their hand and look at the linesman.  This is naive soccer.  Never stop playing until you hear a whistle.

Never assume anything.  Just because you think you’re in the right, doesn’t mean you’re actually in the right.  We see it over and over on tv and in games where players think whatever it is they are thinking should be what the referee/linesmen are thinking.

Don’t stop until you hear the whistle.  I remember hearing this over and over as I grew up playing soccer.  I also remember thinking “well, duh, what else am I going to do?”  Now that I look back, though, it really is a crucial piece of information.

If you begin to depend on the referee and linesmen to make a call in your favour, you’re eventually going to run into trouble.  This is especially true for defenders/teams who play the offside trap.  What teams will do is play a high defensive line trying to force the opposing forward offside.  In doing so, players quickly push up and hope that the linesman calls offside.  What results is players raising their hands, looking at the linesman and yelling “offside!” rather than actually chasing the player in case the offside trap was not successful.

Don’t depend on the referee and his linesman to make calls for you.  Even if the player is indeed offside, the opinion of the linesman might be different.  Don’t forget, they’re human and mistakes are inevitable. For this reason teams have increasingly stopped playing the offside trap.  Rather than hoping you catch the forward offside, play a lower line and actually defend the player.  Create an environment where if you are beat, there is no one to blame but yourself; take responsiblity for your actions on the field.

Players stopping because they think a play is offside really bothers me, but when players stop because they think they’ve been fouled drives me up the wall.  Because the game of soccer has increasingly become one of acting and simulated dives, fouls are easy to come by.  If you simply get grabbed/tugged, it is considered to be a foul.  This needs to change.

The sport of soccer isn’t a barbaric sport, far from it.  With that said, however, the sport of soccer is a rough one.  You are going to be kicked, knocked down, hit, pushed and pulled, but it’s all part of the game.  It forces you to become stronger.  If you have the ball and someone has hit you, don’t just stop playing and look at the referee for a call.  Keep going until you hear the whistle.  I promise you that if you continue to play after being hit, the referee will have a lot more respect for you and will consequently give more calls in your favor.  If you have a disagreement with the referee, address is when the game is stopped, i.e. half time, or have your coach deal with it.  There is nothing worst than yelling at the referee while the game is going.  This is sure to get you a yellow card…maybe even a red.  Worst of all, while you’re so caught up in yelling, the opposing team can be down the field creating a scoring chance.

Although this post is somewhat repetitive, I really wanted to make a point that you should continue to play the game – under any circumstances – until you hear the whistle.  When the time is right, then approach the referee and have a conversation.  Don’t put your team in jeopardy because you think you’re right.

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