Something that has come up this past season has been the pre-game net inspection.
I don’t mean the very first time when it’s done during the pitch inspection. That’s the real one.
I’m talking about when the referee crew splits in the middle of the field and runs to check the nets before taking up their position. This one is for the show. It was recommended to me, as a referee, to ensure that my assistant referees knew how to do a net check with the appropriate mechanics.
This seemed like the perfect opportunity for another project for me to undertake to demonstrate the procedure.
Here’s a first-person simulation of a net check.
And the perspective from the penalty spot.
- As you arrive at the net, have a quick glance to look for any gaping holes or areas of interest where holes could potentially be.
- Start on the side of the goal closest to the touchline you will be patrolling.
- Ensure the goal posts are aligned on the goal line as they could have moved back during team warm-up. Also double-check that they are anchored in some way.
- Move across the goal line along the front of the goal to ensure the net is firmly secured to the frame of the crossbar.
- Once you are at the far post, move along the part of the goal secured to the ground or the goal frame that is in contact with the ground. Check the attachment of the frame and the net. This is better done by circling through the outside as some nets hang forward and are not suspended and it looks unprofessional to bend into it to pull it.
- Make your way back to the near post again where you started as you go around the back of the goal.
- Once the net check is completed, stand a few metres from the goal post and check if the other assistant referee has completed his/her duties by making eye contact before you proceed to your position. Some ARs like raising their flag to acknowledge one another; avoid doing this as it’s better used as a signal to get attention when something is wrong.
- Always run through the outside of the field of play around the corner flag after checking the net. If you have the time, side-step from the corner flag to your position.
- Count players, unfurl flag and give thumbs up to the referee that you are good to go. Be ready to start the watch!
- Professionalism: Don’t use your flag to pull the net. It looks unprofessional but more importantly, it could get stuck in the net and look silly. Hold the flag in the other hand.
- Focus: Things to look for include new holes, net not being attached to the posts and the goals not being anchored.
- Speed: Monitor the progress of your co-AR as well as the players on the pitch to assess how much time you have to check the net e.g. if the other AR is ahead of you and/or is waiting for you to complete or if the players are on the field ready for kick-off waiting for the whistle.
- Purpose: A pre-game net check is usually for the show and professionalism (a last minute check). The nets should have been thoroughly checked by this point already. Any minor issues should be addressed as quickly as possible and major ones brought to the attention of the referee but hopefully none have arisen.
It’s also interesting that additional assistant referees (AARs) now do the net check in games where they are present given that they are the closest match officials to the net.
There are also many cultural differences and expectations on how this is to be conducted. Anything different to what you saw above? Comment below to let us know and tell us where you are from!
Activity: There are also mistakes on the videos above. Spot your observations and comment below.