Blow the whistle, ref...

Matt Green

New Member
Level 7 Referee
Hi all!

I'm pleased to have found this forum, as a very new ref it's nice to read through some threads! This is my first post, and I'd love some feedback!

Had a game last weekend, a semi-final cup game between two quite physical sides. There was what I perceived to be the usual amount of pushing/leaning on opponents throughout the game; most of which I didn't deem to be an offence, just the physical part of the game.

However I got a lot of comments from players saying that these pushes should have been free kicks. These came mainly in the second half, after a 1-1 scoreline at halftime.

I didn't believe the game got any more physical in the second half, and while I'll be the first to admit one or two bad calls/lack of a call, I tried to stay consistent with my decision making; but the comment from one of the captains has stuck with me, 'What does it take to get you to blow the whistle, ref?!'.

Perhaps my threshold as to what's a foul and what isn't (when it comes to a push) is higher than the players, or maybe they're just complaining? The managers both said they appreciated the consistency, which I've tried to focus on, but I'd love any feedback from you guys in regards to when a push becomes a foul...

Thanks for your time guys!


Well-Known Member
Welcome. I hold a view that complaining to the ref and asking for calls is part of the game (until you get to dissent - but even then it's part of the game it just gets you a caution :)). I'd venture to say there has never been a game where the players haven't asked for something that shouldn't be given.

Therefore whether the players or coaches think you are getting it right is not a good meaurement and not all that useful as feedback. You might very well be too lienient (I was when I started) but you will only know that if you have the opportunity for another referee, a mentor, or an observer come an watch you and help you out. That and we get better over time...that one you let go this week - you won't let it go next week etc.

Hope you're having fun, keep going.

Paul March

Well-Known Member
Level 6 Referee
Welcome aboard

Players will push you as far as they feel they can. Every challenge against them is a foul with every one they commit being fair. You get used to it and it eventually becomes background noise - the trick is not to get involved in justifying your decisions every time.



Supply League Observer
Staff member
@Matt Green - as a new referee, are you being too lenient or afraid to make the decision?

Think that one through!

But pushing is one of the most difficult to decide. Consistency is more important than accruacy in this area.

A simple trick - does the offending player extend his arms into an opponent? If so, it is pushing, but having an already extended arm and the opponent comes on to, is simply defending his position and not a free kick.
Certain players are serial chirpers, you'll get used to who they are. They are seeking advantage, any advantage... 'In the back Ref' is a common mis-call, i'm sure we call all make a list of the common ones...A quick 'play to whistle' should put a stop to it, its like training dogs!
No whistle = play on.... simples!!!

Matt Green

New Member
Level 7 Referee
Thanks for the replies guys! Really helpful advice to think over, I very much appreciate it!

Pleased to say this weekend felt more successful, and I was also fortunate to have a mentor observe too.

Less pushy teams this week, seemed to want to just get on and play football - possibly a rarity in some leagues!

Definitely used the phrase 'play to the whistle', which seemed to help; and also felt more confident to blow for fouls. This bite me in the arse when I blew for a handball that, in hindsight, really should have been an advantage... We live and learn!

Thanks again for the suggestions guys!


Well-Known Member
My 2p's worth.

Try to get a decent side on view of the drop zone and that helps with the calls off in the back.

The comment about looking for extension is a great one as well, players will always appeal the moment they feel contact in their back, regardless of whether there is an actual push or not.