When we train new referees, we often tell them this about being an assistant referee: “if you’re doing your job as an assistant referee, you’ll miss most of the match”.
Among their several duties, the trailing assistant referee provides eyes behind the back of the referee, spotting off the ball nonsense that the referee may not see. As such, it is imperative that ARs not get caught “ball watching”.
FIFA Assistant Referee Peter Kirkup illustrates this brilliantly when he spots violent conduct on the pitch, behind the back of Referee Craig Pawson.
Just as coaches tell defenders, we tell new assistant referees: don’t get caught ball watching!