A technique for referees to deal with “Irresponsible Behavior” of coaches during matches. 

“ASK, TELL, DISMISS” is a process for all  officials to follow relative to the conduct within the technical area.


If a situation arises where there is irresponsible behavior, the referee will ASK the person(s) to stop.


If there is another occurrence where there is irresponsible behavior, the referee will inform that person that the behavior is not permissible and TELL them (insist) to stop.


If the non‐accepted action continues, the referee may DISMISS that person immediately.

It is key to use the process and terminology so that coaches know that when they hear “TELL” it is  understood this is same step as when a player is shown a yellow card and cautioned.  The next infringement/offense will be the same as a red card, a send-off/dismissal. If you know you have a match where tempers tend to run high, you may want to explain this “process” to the team officials during your pre-game inspection of the team(s),

Remember — for players, “Dissent” is a cautionable offense. The ASK and TELL are the equivalent of a ‘caution’ for a team official.

Remember — for players, “Using offensive, insulting or abusive language and or gestures” and some other behaviors is an ‘immediate sendoff.’ The referee can immediately DISMISS if,  in the opinion of the referee (ITOOTR), the behavior warranted the dismissal.

Not all irresponsible behavior requires going through the sequence of “ASK, TELL, DISMISS.”

It is within the referee’s authority to dismiss a team official after a single inappropriate display of “Irresponsible Behavior.”

Dismissal for non‐playing personnel should be written as “Irresponsible Behavior” and specific details noted on the game report.

Some actions that “cross the line” include:

  •  Coach/bench personnel leaving technical area (including entering the field) to dispute/dissent a call
  •  Coach/bench personnel throwing/kicking anything while disputing a call  
  •  Coach/bench personnel kicking/hitting advertising boards or bench in dispute of a call  
  •  Directed abusive, insulting or offensive language and/or gestures  
  •  Inflammatory and/or aggressive behavior (verbal and/or physical) with the opposition  
  •  Interfering with the restart of play and field players  
  •  Making unwanted and/or aggressive contact with opposing players  
  •  Interfering with the AR in the performance of their duties

Try to prevent having to deal with irresponsible sideline behavior by communicating your expectations politely (but firmly) during your pre-game inspections of the team(s).