What is the proper way to handle parents who coach from the spectator area, or as I suspect, teams who place coaches on the spectator side for purposes of being able to instruct players from both sides of the field? Some of these spectator coaches will cross the field at halftime to instruct players in the technical area. What can I, as an official do to stop this?
USSF answer (May 7, 2009):
Unless there is some rule of competition that prohibits coaches from mingling with the spectators and carrying on their role as coach(es), then there is nothing the referee can do about such action during the game. A rule of competition prohibiting coaching from the spectator area is unenforceable unless the competition itself is willing to place monitors in the spectator area. Think about it: How can the referee determine whether some parent yelling generally nonsensical and confusing things at the players is simply a parent or is instead a coach in disguise yelling generally nonsensical and confusing things at the players? The coach’s job should be done in the period before the game begins, in the week preceding the game and over the course of the season. There is little of value to be gained by yelling instructions across a field.
As to crossing the field at halftime to issue further instructions to the players, again there is not much the referee can do without help from the competition itself. As a practical matter, the field is open territory at the midgame break and there shouldn’t be a problem if a parent (or whoever) from the parent side wants to cross the field to be with the team, player, coach, etc. on the other side — nor would we have a problem if the coach left the team side at halftime to go across the field to talk to a parent on the other side. In short, unless the crossing is for nefarious purposes and/or causes a confrontation, the referee crew has more important things to do than keep people off the field at midgame break.