The world's favorite sport is growing with the adoption of Beach Soccer along the coastlines of the United States. Last year was the first time I was involved with Beach Soccer and it was a thrill. Players are more acrobatic with bicycle kicks, the ball performs differently on the mounds of sand, and the workout everyone receives will build up your post game appetite!
With nice weather this time of the year, we will see more Beach Soccer tournaments at beaches in California, Florida, and other prime locations that soak up the sun. We came up with a list of essential gear you will need in order to enjoy yourself, perform professionally, and inform others who may need some advice.
Be sure to read the Beach Soccer Laws of the Game several days before you embark on your Beach Soccer experience. These rules are quite different from other forms of soccer and you will need to teach the players, coaches, and spectators, with the proper application.
So what will you need in your beach soccer referee bag before you go?
Did you read the Laws of the Game yet? If you did, you'll know there are two ceremonial coin tosses in Beach Soccer. Roll back and read Law 8 "Preliminaries" to understand why there are two coin tosses. You'll also want to familiarize yourself with our 4 Soccer Referee Secrets for the Ceremonial Coin Toss.
You can carry any type of fair coin with you: a silver dollar, a quarter, a metal coin, or a dual-colored plastic coin. Our favorite is a plastic coin since it is less likely to reflect the sun during the day.
You will have three periods to keep track of match time. There is also a specific amount of time between periods that you have to manage to keep your schedule. Having a reliable wristwatch with a timer is essential.
Most referees have a preference of a pen, permanent marker, or pencil as a recording device during matches. We discovered that pens or markers work fine for a time, but once you start to sweat, it becomes harder for ink to commit to paper. A mini pencil comes handy since it will write in lots of weather conditions.
#7: YELLOW & RED CARD
Misconduct happens! It will be inevitable when players are highly competitive, frustrated, or aggressive. The Laws of the Game have slight modifications for ejections, including throwing sand and touching the ball after a free kick is taken, and before it touches the posts, the crossbar, the goalkeeper or the sand (Law 12).
#6: MATCH REPORT CARDS
Linked to your writing instrument, you'll need a series of match report cards in your pocket. If you do a tournament, you may not get much time between matches to go back to your referee tent and grab more cards to write on. Stashing a set in your pocket will keep you prepared and your field will run on-time.
The B+D Referee Match Report Cards are printed on thick cardstock board and are easy to read. Team information and scoring are recorded on one side, and the backside offers plenty of room for misconduct and card color. This helps a lot for second yellow card offenses and note space for anything out of the ordinary.
#5: FINGERGRIP WHISTLE OR WHISTLE+WRIST LANYARD
Once out of every 10 games, I happen to drop my whistle. When it falls on the grass, the five second rule keeps me relatively safe and I continue on. When I first dropped my whistle in the sand, with it moist from being used in my mouth and making calls, it was the foulest thing I could imagine continuing to use that day.
Enter the invention of a fingergrip whistle or better yet: a wrist lanyard that attaches your whistle to you. This has been a life saver to avoid a dip in the sand. That one whistle never fully recovered, and I was chewing bits of sand the rest of the day.
Fox 40 makes a great Classic CMG Fingergrip whistle that tweets at 115dB. If you want to save your hearing a bit, go with the Mini CMG Fingergrip at 109dB. If you like the whistle you have, you can pickup a Fox 40 all black Wrist Lanyard.
#4: SMALL TOWEL
When have you gone to the beach without a towel? You're bound to get sandy feet, sometimes you get wet, and you don't want to track sand back to your car or home. Packing a small towel is a great idea to eliminate the sand that will seemingly get everywhere!
A beach towel or hand towel might work fine. We'd recommend styling it up with the B+D Yellow and Red Card Towel set. These are about the size of a gym towel at 40" by 20". They fold up nice and compact. Leave one in your bag and one in the car.
No brainer. Everyone I saw at the beach is always lathering with sunscreen. You should never skip this mandatory item and it should always be in your kit. Follow your doctor's orders for how often you should apply this during the day. It never hurts to apply more during your breaks, at lunch, or before the last games of the day.
If you need recommendations, ask others. Everyone has a story about skin cancer, scares, or what they've been using because of their skin tone. Everyone will be different, but stick to something that is better than roasting in the sun and turning out baked like a lobster. You need to cover all skin that is exposed to the sun. More detailed health information can be found at the Environmental Working Group's "Guide to Sunscreens."
I use Neutrogena SPF 70 CoolDry Sport Sunscreen Spray that is available on Amazon. Some extra spots I pay attention to include the top of my head, back of my neck, and back of my legs. I seem to always get a slight burn closest to my ankles.
Ask your assignor if the Beach Soccer event is a US Soccer sanctioned event. This is important because you will need the specific uniform that supports the affiliation of the matches you'll be officiating. If it is US Soccer affiliated, wear the same uniform as an outdoor game: Official Sports Int'l jerseys and shorts, or comparable design.
If the matches are not affiliated with US Soccer, almost anything goes. We've seen assignors permit and encourage the use of Adidas Referee uniforms. Don't go and spend a small fortune on outfitting yourself with the complete set! Most referee veterans bring enough to share or have extra sets for officiating teams to match one another.
Our preference is the latest Adidas Referee uniforms that look sharp and have an athletic cut. Stick to light colors. Black is almost always forbidden in the beach heat.
#1: SAND SOCKS
You'll notice we omitted socks in the uniform. Socks are not an official uniform requirement for Beach Soccer. However, your feet will be much happier if you protect them with sand socks for the day. Some professional and veteran referees elect not to wear anything on their feet, as some players also play barefoot.
In the hot beach sand, you might be digging your feet under the surface just to save yourself from the heat. The abrasiveness of the sand will also shave the skin down on the top and bottom of your feet.
We really like the black Vincere Neoprene Sand Socks to compliment the referee uniform. They keep sand and debris off our feet, permit better traction in the sand, and look professional.
If you're ready to get involved in Beach Soccer for the first time, ask your local assignors if they know who is training and hiring referees for upcoming coastal events. You can also search for "beach soccer" and add a coastal city name. Contact the organizer and let them know you'd like to get involved. Most tournaments are held from April to August, but beach soccer can be played year-round all over the world.
Let us know if this guide helps you, or if there's any items we may have missed! Leave your comments below.