Referee Training during COVID-19


By Sonia Denoncourt

We are now dealing with a profoundly serious health issue Worldwide. Everyone is affected by different degrees. If you are an official and suddenly the season is off, you may feel isolated, depressed and in need of keeping up with the game for your return on the field. What can you do during this time? Obviously, we cannot be in a group session, most likely all sport facilities are closed, and matches are nonexistent. However, you still can do a lot to stay sharp. Here some techniques to get started:

Acceptance – You must accept that Coronavirus could limit your refereeing for at least 3 months or more. This is the first step if you want to move forward.

Positive mindset – Stay positive and focus on what you can do and not on what you cannot do. Think outside the box.

Challenging Yourself – Keep your training fun and challenging. Vary your type of activities daily and try new things. It is important to stick to a certain routine that fits your needs.

Set Objectives – Set some reachable and achievable goals. Work it out within a brief period, for example I suggest 2 weeks goals at the time. Re-adjust and set new goals.

Track Performance – To help you to maintain your objectives, keep a logbook and write all details you have (duration, heart rate, distance, type of activities, rest period, how you feel that day, etc.).

Here are some more specific tips to help you continue to train and improve:

1. Physical training, fitness

  • Get in touch with fitness trainers and ask advice.
  • Watch videos online as several fitness trainers offer training sessions for free. You can do this in your living room. Check online videos, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook posts. You will be inspired and motivated by following the pros.
  • Set aside a minimum of 1 hour /day for physical activities.
  • Go outdoors if you can. You can do a lot alone, like biking, rollerblading, running, fast walking, etc. Just remember to pick an isolated and permitted location to do so.
  • Core stability. You do not need much equipment as a mat/rug is all you need. There are so many exercises you can do in a small limited place. And the benefits of core training are magical.
  • Home equipment. If you are lucky to have a treadmill, rowing machine, step master or bike trainer, that is fantastic. If not, you can use basic equipment like a skipping rope, small weights, elastic bands, ball, roller, etc. I am lucky to have a dedicated room in my house with some equipment. Some people have transformed their garage in a gym or use part of a backyard or even their balcony. I have some stairs that I can use safely, it is a great option too, give it a try.
  • Recovery. Keep in mind to keep a life balance. Yoga, stretching and periods of relaxation have tremendous positive effects and are necessary in your planning.
  • Family. If you are lucky to live with someone who shares the same passion, do exercises together as it will help you to stay motivated and it is more interactive. If you are alone, listen to your favorite music or TV show during workouts.

2. Technical training, knowledge of the Laws of the game

  • Basic reading. Open your laws of the game book and read it again, and again. Make it your nightstand reading!
  • Online referee training is powerful. There are a lot of associations, clubs or Federations that offer some online training. Challenge yourself. It is often free, just sign up and do some fun LOG tests to keep your mind sharp.
  • IFAB: check the online website and stay tune with the latest changes/amendments in the laws. Download the LOG and study.
  • Review your games. You may have some previous games recorded, review and self-analyses your performance.
  • Read the RefLIVE Blog. You can read more articles from me and other world experts on refereeing to learn new insights and training advice for Referees and Referee Managers.

3. Mental preparation and focus

  • Sharpen your concentration by doing some existing online tests.
  • Know yourself better, explore and discover some of your abilities. Go beyond the unknown.
  • Consult professionals via online, phone, text, whatsapp, zoom or any social media you are comfortable with.

4. Overall

  • Stay healthy by eating nutritious food. This could be a good time to revise your diet and eat healthier. Do not change your whole diet in a day, go progressively by adding 1 or 2 better items per day. Go progressively by eliminating 1 less desirable habit or bad item per day!
  • SMART. I have talked before about getting SMART goals. Remember the Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-framed objectives.
  • Keep a journal, you will enjoy reading it down the road. Or even sharing it!

Your lifestyle is important and will help you to keep your spirit and mood healthy. I know you can do it. I know you want to be sharp when the time comes to be back on the field. You will blow your own mind and your peers by tackling this situation strongly. You will be a hero and an example to others. Be proud of yourself but also stay realistic and do not overdo it. Balance is key. Wishing you the absolute best, make the best of it, be at your best.

Sonia Denoncourt is a former FIFA level referee, achieving some incredible accomplishments including 3 FIFA Women’s World Cups and 2 Olympic Games. She now works with a range of referees and leagues to focus on education and development. You can follow her updates on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.

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