5 lessons from Simon Breivik from PGMOL

Simon Breivik from PGMOL gives fitness tips.  I’ve been reading a lot about fitness and found some interesting tips in the FA and RA’s Refereeing magazine. I’ve distilled 5 important lessons that are very useful for every referee.

Bonus: he has some great tips for you in the festive period around Christmas and New Year 2021.

Read more tips below the image.

Simon Breivik from PGMOL
Simon Breivik from PGMOL. Screenshot from Premier League video.

During a referee conference they asked Simon Breivik to teach about fitness. He’s the Head of Fitness & Medicine at the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL), the organisation for pro refs in the Premier League. He loves to “pass up an opportunity to preach the importance of tiness to the next generation of referees”, but never expected a full classroom as lots of pro referees gave workshops there as well.

Fitness is apparently a hot topic for you, refs. That’s what I’ve noticed to and it’s also the reason that I started with the Fitness Friday section on Dutch Referee Blog.

Lesson 1: Understand the importance of fitness

I love to read how Simon Breivik starts his sessions by getting the overall agreement that fitness important. You’ll see that in for example:

“First impressions are curcial because a positive body image can give the referee the edge before they’ve even left the tunnel.”

Lesson 2: No challenge means, no change

Because you want improve as a referee, things need to change. You want to get better, but how? “For training to have the disired effect, it should be challenging”, stresses Simon Breivik in the article. “If your training doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.”

The Head of Fitness gives a perfect example. “You will not improve your stamina by going for a gentle jog around the park once a week – incorrect medicine and incorrect dose.” His advice to achieve that goal: “you need to perform a series of high-speed runs interspersed with short recovery periods two to three times per week.”

Lesson 3: Tackle your weaknesses

First of all, don’t ignore your strenghts. When you’re a good sprinter, make sure you’ll remain good at it. But don’t forget what you want to improve. “We’re all guilty of sticking to doing what we’re best at, but by performing the training we most enjoy all the time, we will not be tackling our weaknesses.”

Make sure you know what your weaknesses are. If you’re big dream is to become a FIFA referee, that is awesome. Go for it. But make sure you know which steps you need to take to reach that goal. It’s not just “earning promotions”, things you can’t completely control. If you know your weaknesses you can set specific and measurable goals to tackle them.

Lesson 4: Make the fitness test your friend

Subsequently, making goals measurable also means you need to test your fitness. “Believe it or not”, Simon Breivik says, fitness testing is your friend.”

You might laugh, as the FIFA fitness test is the thing you look up to every year. But Simon Breivik is very serious about this. “Let’s face it, without assessments, how else ar eyou going to know what your strenghts and weaknesses are? Fitness tests are the only true way of monotoring progress – or lack thereof.”

For example: do you need to work on your start speed as your fail your sprints. Or is stamina not your best friend when you run 40 times 75m during the test.

Lesson 5: Make fitness a lifestyle

I’m personally a Youth B referee, which is the second national youth level. That’s pretty good, I get to referee youth games at high level, but it’s not the top for sure.  I won’t make it to the Eredivisie, our national senior level. “Not everyone can be a good referee, because refereeing is difficult”, says Simon Breivik. “But anyone can be fit. Fitness is easy and fitness is one hundred per cent controllable.”

I might not be at the highest level, but I’ve said to myself that I’ll have at least twice a week a proper training session. Pluse some core stability. I’m happy to run with a friend at my RA every week, one of the things Pierluigi Collina adviced  in Fitness Friday to keep you motivated to train.

Make fitness your lifestyle. And I’d like to summarize that with this quote from Simon Breivik from PGMOL: “Being fit will not make an average referee good. But a lack of fitness can make a good referee average.”


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