5 training principles for referees

These 5 training principles for referees are very important. They’re something you need to keep in mind when scheduling your training sessions. If you want to improve you need to find the right balance: don’t go to heavy on yourself. But it also means that you need to stimulate your muscles to be able to deliver more.

Check out the 5 training principles I’ve learned during my referee courses that will help you plan your fitness training schedule.

The five principles of training for referees

1. Specificity

It is very important that you train for what your do during the game. The idea of specificity is that you have to practice what you’ll need during your games. 

Firstly, train your direction. Be specific for the sport you train for. Because you run in different directions as referee, make sure you’ll have exercises where you run forward, backwards and sideways as well. 

Secondly, the speed you train at is important.  It’s easy to go out the door and run 5 to 10km, but that is not what you’ll do during your games. Refereeing is not jogging, but means sprinting at high speed, following play closely and sometimes you walk. Your pace continuously changes. 

This means that you need to train for:

  • endurance, so you’ll be able to follow play for 90 minutes
  • explosive strength, so you are able to sprint and be close to match situations

In a previous blog post I’ve shared an exercises that helps you with training at different paces.

2. Overload 

When you’re training, you want to improve your strength capacity. Overload means that you stimulate your body with a training session. You’re body is temporary out of balance due to the new demands. Your body wil work harder to adjust to this new workout. Your training will trigger your body to improve. 

3. Super-compensation

Triggering your body to improve means that your body wants to be better prepared. Your body wants to compensate and if the stimulus of a new training is at the right moment, you can achieve more every time. That’s what is called super-compensation. 

But how can you reach super-compensation? 

Two things you should NOT do:

Too much time between training sessions

As Hilco de Boer, physical trainer at KNVB’s pro referess, already pointed out in the interview. 

 “If someone has no midweek game, then I’ll advise him to do two intensive running sessions per week.” This advice is also very important for amateur referees according to him. “For amateur referees the intensity of the training session might be different compared to the pro’s. And you need to take into account you can’t do the same if you have a physically hard job. But it’s also good for amateur referees to challenge your physical condition twice a week.”

Read the full interview.

If you train once per week you’ll maintain your current fitness level, but you’ll not improve. “It might be useful during holidays or when injured, but not to get better.”

Not enough time between training sessions

You might see training schedules from professional referees or players who train every day of the week. But they didn’t do that from the start. They’ve built up their fitness schedule gradually. So don’t go crazy and think: the more I train, the fitter I’ll become. 

If you train too often you’re body has not enough time to recover. When your performance level is not back at normal before a training session, you’ll come out worse. The fitness level goes down, because it’s an unhealthy overload. The risk on getting injuries win increase.

What is a good indicator if there’s not enough time between your sessions: a lot of muscle pain (sore legs). Then you need more rest. 

Things you can do: recovery training or train your upper body and core stability

4. Adaptation

In the period of super-compensation is when you need to train. That’s when you can become better. But the more you improve, the higher the stimulus needs to be to gain effect. You need to build this up slowly. Your body needs to get used to a certain fitness level.

You can stimulate your body more by more intense training sessions or longer duration of your sessions. When you begin you might be able to run for 2 km before you have to take a break, in the end that could just be your warm-up before doing more intense training exercises. 

5. Reversibility

Sometimes stimulating your muscles during a training session is not a good idea. In summer or winter breaks it’s good to take a rest. Your level of fitness goes back, but it’s a good recovery and after that you need to get into it gradually again. And when you start again the detraining is reversed and you’ll get back at previous fitness levels again.

My referee courses are

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