With news this week of a further extension to the lockdown in the United Kingdom comes a realisation that we are, at the very least, an additional three weeks away from a return of football and officiating any at level.
Of course professional referees are without games to take charge of but must maintain their peak levels of physical condition as well as their mindset around refereeing matches in order to be prepared for specific fixtures when a resumption of football can take place.
In England, The Football Association has sought to take care of its 31,000+ affiliated officials by offering online development workshops led by The FA’s National Refereeing Manager, Farai Hallam. Farai uses the platform to keep referees up to date on the current situation as The FA sees it and then plugs the gaps that many referees are now facing as they are unable to attend Referees Association or CORE meetings where they would usually get their education, face tests and develop as officials.
In the second of The FA online workshops, Farai introduces a video clip from FIFA Referee, Craig Pawson. The key messages from Craig are applicable to officials at all levels and give a great insight into what those at the pinnacle of refereeing are doing during this period of inactivity within football.
A very salient point that Craig impressed upon was how crucial it is to have structure in your daily routine and to have a plan and know what it entails. He then went on to state how his personal plan contains a high volume of medium intensity running which maintains his physical condition to run many miles, replicating what he would do during a match.
Something which was a theme throughout the video was how his advice to officials was to embrace all different forms of training. He spoke at length about how he is currently doing more training in this home than he would in his regular mid-season training schedule. These are activities such as flexibility training and core exercises. On the theme of flexibility training, Craig talked about how this break has allowed him time to add Yoga to his training program which is something he had long wanted to try but never has the time within his regular game schedule,
“I have no excuse at the minute (not to try it out)” – Craig Pawson (FIFA Referee).
The online workshop then moved onto another video clip, this time from FIFA Assistant Referee, Lee Betts. The opening key message from Lee was very much in sync with that of Craig, with regards to being sure to have a structure to your daily routine and to have a plan for your day. Lee shared that his personal plan revolved around doing his physical training and then turning his attentions towards the technical side of refereeing. He spoke of how he is dedicating time to activities such as additional online offside drills, which he would do during the season regularly but now has time to do more of. Another thing which was touched upon was how Lee is regularly doing law refreshers, these have been a big part of The FA online workshops and Farai has been sure to include Laws of the Game questions on every occasion which means that referees can easily stay sharp on their Law knowledge by watching the online workshops or using online resources such as the IFAB app. Lee also went on to discuss how he is using the time away from football for a period of self-analysis, this allows him to reflect on what he has done well so far this season and how he can do more of those things in addition to looking at his development points so that he can continue to improve as an official.
He is not at all complacent and his desire to continue learning game by game is what has seen him achieve FIFA Assistant Referee status. The overall aim of carrying out these activities at the present time, for Lee, is that when active football returns he is in optimal physical condition.
If you would like to watch The FA’s online workshops then click on the links below:
Additionally, see below the link to the IFAB website where you can download the app and test your knowledge on The Laws of the Game as well as getting up to date with the latest Law changes which will com into effect from 1st June 2020:
At The Third Team I work individually and in collaboration with different professionals where I have developed workshops associated with Resilience and Mental Toughness Development to help referees. The workshops are interactive, where referees are encouraged to open up and share their experiences to help each other.
Feel free to contact me if you’d like to know more about my workshops and how I could help you or your officials.
Referee Educator & Managing Director of The Third Team
Nathan Sherratt, Referee Educator, Resilience Trainer and Managing Director of The Third Team. A Mental Toughness Practitioner based in County Durham, North East England.