MHSAA Pre/Post Game

Pre-Match Preparations


  • 24 hours before the match, contact school/athletic office to confirm match(s) start times and field site.
  • Contact partner(s) and discuss arrival time and site. Discuss parking arrangements if possible.  Plan for travel together if practical.
  • Plan on arriving at field AT LEAST 20 (preferably 30) MINUTES prior to start time.  The jurisdiction of the officials shall begin on their arrival at the field of play and its immediate surroundings, which shall be no later than 15 minutes prior to the start of the game.


  • Ask for the site manager and inquire whether they will available the entire game. Ask the site manager to be available immediately after the game.
  • Inquire whether if the HOME team’s Trainer is available and again, ask whether he/she will be available throughout the match or if they are covering multiple events for the school. Introduce yourself.
  • Know your exit strategy. Upon the conclusion of the game, what path will you and your partner(s) be taking to exit the facility. Is it the safest path that avoids any confrontation with fans, spectators, etc.
  • Please avoid speaking to spectators at the fence or other areas. Remain neutral and your perception of being a fair official strengthens.
  • Be smart in using the restrooms. Walk in groups and  avoid going alone if the location poses a possible threat. Think ahead and think smart.


  • Go out of your way to introduce/shake hands with coaches of both teams. Do this earlier rather than later so you are not disrupting their team’s preparation as the start time approaches. Give equal time to both teams. Keep the conversation professional and short.
  • Discuss sportsmanship and proper and legally equipped players.   Be especially aware of possible issues with girls illegal equipment i.e. jewelry, hair control devices.
  • Advise both coaches that they may attend pre-game with captains. (Note: NFHS rule book “requires” coaches to attend pre-match meeting with captains and officials).
  • Secure rosters from coaches or managers at this time as well.


  • At least 10 minutes before start.  Again, sooner the better. Respect the coaches and their warm up time.
  • Introductions.  Be sure to introduce yourself to all captains.  SHAKE HANDS!  Players introduce themselves to each other.
  • Discuss importance of sportsmanship (zero tolerance for anything else!) and safety.  Respect everything and everyone involved in the game.  Expect their help in control of game.
  • Fair play.  Work hard…officials and players!
  • Coin toss for choice of kick or defend goal (a.k.a. attack direction) Make note in your book!
  • Keep it brief!  Do not go into any rules or equipment explanations.


  • Check corner flags.
  • Check corner arcs.
  • Check field markings including the distance from corner arc to hash indicating 10 yard distance for corner kicks.
  • Check field for dangerous conditions for players’ safety.
  • Be sure benches are not too close to field.
  • Be sure touchline areas are clear of dangerous obstructions (practice nets).
  • Check goals. No Holes.  Fix (have fixed) if any exist.  Tape, plastic ties, etc. Must be firmly anchored. Must be perpendicular to field surface. Netting secured to crossbar, posts, sides and back to the ground or framework. Do not start the game if goals are not securely anchored to the ground.


  • Get body ready for match.  If you need to stretch, jog in place, etc., find less conspicuous spot on field to do so.  Corner of field away from spectators and players is a good option.  Not at halfway line.
  • If you do want to jog the field, do so at half-way line earlier (25 minutes prior to match start time) or, if later, behind one of the goals at one end of the field.


  • Discuss team styles and potential situations.
  • Discuss coaches and/or players for potential issues.
  • Discuss mechanics for stopping and starting play.
  • Discuss how to handle substitutions and ready for play signals.
  • Discuss advantage use and signals.
  • Discuss positions, both for dual control and diagonal system of control (DSC).
  • Emphasize eye contact, patient whistles, conferencing as needed.
  • Responsibility for monitoring the clock.
  • Discuss weather issues and game suspension guidelines.


  • Go to positions.
  • Final check of field.
  • Count players on each side.  Do this without pointing!
  • Be sure keepers are ready.  Hand signal is NOT required.  Your judgment is.
  • Visual check with partner.
  • Clock set with appropriate time.
  • Hand in air, whistle in mouth, air in whistle…PLAY!  Good luck!

Post Game Responsibilities

  • Meet together as a team at a predetermined spot on field.  Observe any issues that may need your involvement.  REMEMBER, your jurisdiction continues until you leave the visual area of the field.  You don’t have to be part of any post-game handshakes BUT if the teams want to shake your hands, by all means be cooperative and receptive. Keep moving, grab your bags, put on your coat. Avoid changing your uniform, socks, etc. Keep moving and stay together and exit.
  • Look for the field site supervisor for any assistance. Ask them to walk you out to your car if needed.
  • Leave the field TOGETHER and make sure you all leave without incident.  Watch each others’ backs.
  • Referee MUST fill out game report on Arbiter.  The center of a 3-man (DSC) crew or the identified “referee” (based on Arbiter assignment) is required to fill out the report for all varsity matches.

High School Game Reports (reviewed by WMSOA)
(Following information needs to be entered on The Arbiter within 24 hours after match by Referee of match)

  • Field conditions
  • Field manager present
  • Certified Trainer present
  • Information on any injuries
  • Goal scorers (player number and team name)
  • Information on yellow  and red cards (details of red cards to be called in to Greg Pilbeam – 616-463-4630)
  • Any trouble (coaches, fans, players, etc)
  • Weather related issues
  • Was the match on schedule
  • Anything unusual that should be noted during match play
  • Whether you received game payment at site or not
  • Any safety issues for referees or players
  • You may also comment on any significant issues from the JV match.
  • If ANY RED CARDS were issued or any EJECTIONS were made, PHONE Bill Wagner or Greg Pilbeam IMMEDIATELY following the game.  They need to hear about the incident from the referee before anyone else.  Their contact information is on Arbiter.  Greg Pilbeam: (616) 437-4630  Bill Wagner: (616) 363-4151


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