Referees who prepare to conduct their games have a better chance of delivering good officiating, as well as having options to choose from when the game offers unexpected challenges. Good referees develop a routine for preparing themselves before the season and before every game. Different referees may have varying routines, but they all include the following elements:
- Fitness: The referee should train to get in shape. Refereeing is an overwhelming activity, both physically and mentally. Establish a training routine that includes exercising at least three days of the week, not counting game day. Check your health with your doctor before the season starts, once during the season and after the season ends so you can determine the impact of refereeing on your health.
- Nutrition: Maintain a nutritious diet that includes a lot of fruits and vegetables. The day before and the morning of game day, eat light and avoid large amounts of meat. Drink a lot of water, especially the day before and on game day.
- Equipment: Pack your referee bag the night before game day with all of the referee equipment needed. Be sure to include extra items such as whistles, a watch, flags, pens, etc. that you can loan to peers who may forget their equipment.
- Game information: Before game day, be sure to know the location of the field(s), the team names, starting time, etc. If needed, print directions and a map to the fields.
- Check-in: The morning of game day and on your way to the field, develop the best attitude toward the game, kids, peers, coaches, fans and everyone who you will come in contact with at the game. You can do this by listening to music that gets you in a good mood, doing breathing exercises that calm you down or visualizing your behavior toward others as you interact as a referee. When the referee checks-in he will influence the behavior of the players so that they will conduct themselves in a safe and fair manner, making the game a fun experience for everyone.
- Review key concepts: Use the "Referee Summary" sheet to review key referee concepts and include them in your pre-game conference with your peers. The link will take you to the "Basic Referee Summary Sheet," which is located within the "Online Basic Referee Course - Companion Course" box.
- Connect with the players, coaches and parents: Demonstrate your support to the coaches and make the kids and parents smile at least once before the game starts. Taking these actions will get everyone to connect with you in a personal, natural manner and support you when you make tough decisions.
- Visualize what you need to do at key moments in the game: Immediately get the coach's assistance if a player is hurt/injured; set a good tone for the game from the start by applying the right foul recognition - not too many, not too few; talk to players in key moments to calm them down and keep them in the game; be close to play to be accurate and convincing with your decisions, especially when it goes toward the penalty areas.
- Half-time review: Get water, do a quick review of the first half and decide what is needed for the second half with your peers. Include these questions: What is the score? Are any players close to earning a caution? Is one team frustrated? Is one team overwhelming the other physically? Is the foul recognition accurate? Is any coach upset?
- Develop a routine for preparing for referee games: Take out a printed copy of this list from your referee bag and read it the day before the game. Add steps to it and review them based on the level of game you will be refereeing.
Preparing for games gets easier and takes less time when referees develop routines that include key steps, such as those provided in this list. Please contact Tom Bobadilla at firstname.lastname@example.org
if you have questions or need more information.