We had our usual post season officers meeting tonight to talk about what worked and what didn’t over the course of the past year so we could discuss possible rule changes, improvements, etc.  For the most part this past season went VERY well, with just a few minor problems.  But one of the problems that came up was the difficulty in getting the refs attention when you needed to get subs into the match.  Its not easy to scream louder than the soccer parents on the other end of the field during a throw in to try and get subs in.  So I’m curious how other leagues handle it.

We normally have 3 officials for each match.  We don’t have a forth official.  Our rules generally allow for a team to sub during stoppage of play when they gain possession.  The team losing possession can only sub if the other team subs first. When a team wants to sub, the head coach simply yells out ‘SUBS!’ and the ref holds up the resumption of play until the subs come on the pitch.  But a number of times when the ref is on the far corner of the field from a given team’s sidelines, it was hard for them to hear when a coach was yelling ‘SUBS!’ It also means the team losing possession may have to scramble to sub if they didn’t expect the other team to sub.

So the officers had a lengthy discussion about how we could improve the indication that a team wanted to sub.  We talked about possibly having each coach have a small air horn they could blast letting the ref know a team had subs queued up, but we didn’t like the potential for interrupting a match in progress with horn blasts,  We also talked about giving each coach a semaphore flag (the orange and green ones) since our line judges use red and yellow flags.  If a coach wants to sub they can hold their flag up until either the head ref or line judge see it for the next stoppage of play. We also stipulated that we’d start having the subs stand at mid field like they are supposed to.

Overall this seems like a good compromise between screaming and overly taxing/distracting the refs, but also making it clear when a team needed to sub. But from the lengthy debate it was clear there was no ‘sure thing’ answer.  So what are other leagues doing?  How do you indicate that you need to sub?

This seemed like a decent compromise but we could be wrong once play begins next year.  Thoughts?