Does it make you cringe when a longtime soccer coach yells at a referee over a call that the coach is a) absolutely wrong about and b) should know better? It’s often said one of the best things for an aspiring youth soccer coach to do is get their Grade 8 Referee Certification. Not only will it teach you about how a referee should approach a match, but it will also teach you about some of the finer points of the game, the ones that coaches often argue about and that many know little about.

But what if you just don’t have $60 and a weekend to dedicate to the Grade 8 course? Well if you have some downtime for reading, FIFA and the USSF have a lot of very interesting referee training information available online.

The FIFA referee training material is organized mostly by each Law of the Game. Some are more useful than others:

  • Law 8 – The Start and Restart of Play highlights many of the less common situations. How many times have you seen a free kick awarded inside the goal box? Did you know that more than two players can participate in a dropped ball?
  • Law 11 – Offside provides many useful insights about soccer’s most controversial and most mis-understood law. It has numerous illustrations that explain the finer points of the law, yet is written in an easy to understand form. I’d recommend sending it to all your parents, let alone the coaches.
  • Law 12 – Fouls and Misconduct highlight how fouls should be assessed and what constitutes a free kick vs. a card.

All sections are worth checking out, but you’ll find some are more useful from a non-referee perspective than others.

The USSF also has a lot of referee development material up on their website including the complete set of course slides for the Grade 8 course (Parts 1, 2, and 3) as well as the Grade 8 course manual. There is a lot more than this, so be sure to give the training materials page a look.