Game Day (Refs)


  • Aim to arrive 15 - 20 minutes early.
  • If you are starting the first game of the day, you are responsible for checking that the field conditions are safe, and the goals are anchored. SFYS has people that set up the field, but is is always a good idea to check for safety. Mark any gopher holes or large potholes with a disc cone if you can get them from coaches.
  • Your first responsibility is ensuring safety for yourself and for the players. Do not start a game if you are in doubt. SFYS has a Game Day Hotline number. Please program it into your phone in case you have problems on game day. The number is: 415-794-2974
  • Take time to make yourself presentable. Tuck in your shirt, put on your badge, pull up your socks and remember to use sunblock. You are in a position of authority, so you're going to want to look professional and in charge.

Meet the Coaches

15 minutes before game time, you need to get ready to start the game. Introduce yourself to the coaches with a handshake. Tell them your name, and ask them to get ready for check-in. 

Tips and advice: It is always wise - especially for the U9 games - to remind the coaches certain etiquette that must be observed before the game, because they forget or don't know.

1.  Only 2 licensed coaches listed as valid on the Game Day Photo Roster (GDPR) are allowed in the technical area.

  • Do not make exception to this rule. it will cause problems for you or for referees later in the season.
  • Make sure the picture on the GDPR is the same person.
  • Coaching may only be done in the technical area
  • No coaching from behind the goals by anyone!

​2.  Remind coaches they are responsible for behavior of the spectators. Get them to move parents to the opposite side of the pitch and at least 3 feet back.

3.  Remind coaches in event of injury, you will stop the game and waive them onto the field to get their player. Ask them to have a substitute ready, as the game will go on as soon as the player is off the field. No parents are to come onto the field at any time. Coaches are to remind parents of this.

Pre-game with Team S.T.A.R.s

Each SFYS team is to provide a specially trained assistant referee to help call the in and out of bounds. Make sure to introduce yourself and ask their names, as it is your responsibility to submit these names in your match report.

Ask them what their experience is, as for some it may be their first time.
Remind them how to call in and out of bounds. The ball must completely cross the line before it is out. When in doubt, have them look to you first, before indicting direction. When in doubt, give the ball to the defense. 

The S.T.A.R. is responsible for the whole touch line on their side only. The opposite touch line is the other S.T.A.R.'s responsibility. S.T.A.R.s call in and out of bounds in is quadrant only from the center line to his goal line. Their priority is to call direction first.

You will be running the diagonal. Try to always be on the side, where you can see your S.T.A.R., so that you have eye contact and can help each other with the in and out of bounds call.

As the referee, you are responsible for the offside infractions as applicable all ages Comp and 2nd Grade+ Rec.

Check in the Teams

Get the printed Game Day Photo Roster from the coach of each team. Get and check the game ball from the Home team coach. Ask coaches to line up their players for check-in. Generally, it is a good idea to have players backs to the sun.  Checks are either done head to toe, or toe to head, your choice.

Printed Game Day Photo Roster (GDPR) required for participation. Read off the names of the players, have the player turn and show their number and step behind you. If the coach didn't insert the jersey numbers next to the player names, feel free to do so.

No Jewelry, Earrings, Hard casts or Splints that have hard metal or hard plastic. No EXCEPTIONS! No tape or bandaids over earrings!  They offer no protection if a ball hits the ear! Look for Rings or bracelets on hands and wrists. String bracelets are not allowed.


  • All shirts tucked in. (This helps you tell if there is shirt pulling.)
  • Have the players tap their shin guards
  • No shinguards outside the socks! Socks must completely cover the shin guards
  • Have them turn and show you the bottom of the cleat or lift up their foot.
  • No baseball/football cleats. Those have a spike in the front of the bottom of the shoe. It is dangerous for soccer. If the cleat is broken and appears unsafe, have the coach tell the player to change his/her shoes.
  • Make sure to warn them to double tie their laces as you will not stop the game for re-tying.

If you have a problem with a Coach or Spectator
: Stop the game!
Calmly approach the Coach and give them a warning (and remind them that they are responsible for sideline behavior as well). If you do not feel safe or comfortable, it is your option to halt the game, inform the coaches that the game is over, and leave the field. You will need to file a report with the league, and/or call the SFYS Game Day Hotline if this occurs. For all other incidents/concerns during the game that you have handled, make sure to note the details when you report scores for the game in PenSRA. SF Youth Soccer strives to protect the referees from any kind of harrassment from coaches or spectators and will deal with such issues as they come up.

REGISTRATION ISSUES CANNOT BE SOLVED AT THE GAME. Coaches and Players that are NOT on the Game Day Photo Roster may NOT participate. Period. Coaches and Team Managers are responsible for checking their GDPR well in advance of game day to make sure there aren't any issues. Those individuals should sit with the spectators and support their team, but they may not play or coach.

*Warning: from time to time coaches may try to sneak players in after the line up. This could be because a player arrives late to the field or for a player who is not on the Game Day Photo Roster. It is important all players be checked in and be cleared on the GDPR. Not on the GDPR = no insurance because the player was not properly registered yet or they are sitting out a match due to suspension = liability. Do not allow such player or coach to participate. Be sure to include that coach and player in your report and mark "needs immediate attention". SFYS will investigate.

Referee at team check in, confirming soccer cleats

Starting & Ending the Game

Place the game ball in the center circle.

The Away team will kick off the first half of the game.

  • On the Game Day Photo Roster, circle the team kicking off so you know who gets the kick-off at the beginning of the second half.
  • It is a good idea to put the jersey colors near the team names, especially if you do more than one match during the day.

Count the number of field players, check that both Goalkeepers are ready to start.

Start the match by blowing your whistle and starting your stop watch.

Each division has different substitution time/rules. Know them before you start the game.  For example at U9 Rec, we sub on the sixth and thirteenth minute. There is a 5 minute break at halftime. Use two long whistles to signal half time.

* Tips and advice: As you get more adept, it is always nice to give the coaches a heads up that substitutions will occur within the next minute. Often, the kids at U9 game are distracted and not ready when you call. The clock still runs regardless, because the games for the day are tightly scheduled, and you must keep all the games on time.

Nearing the end of halftime, walk on the field with the ball, and ask the coaches to assemble their teams. The teams switch sides, and Kickoff is given to the team that did not start the game.

As above, count the number of field players and check that both Goalkeepers are ready to start.

  • Each time a goal is scored, make a hatch mark and # of the player who scored on the GDPR.

At the conclusion of game, blow the whistle using three long blasts to signal end of match. Write the final score on the GDPR so you can report it later.

Pick up and return game ball to the coach, return the passes to the appropriate coaches and shake hands. You retain the Game Day Photo Rosters and report scores online by Sunday evening.

*Each referee must report scores and the names of each team's S.T.A.R. in PenSRA in order to be paid.


If you arrive early or finish your game assignments and notice an uncovered match SF Youth Soccer, you are encouraged and welcome to officiate and file a match report. We are happy for the extra help and will pay you.

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