Visualise game situations as match preparation

It’s not over yet with tips I got from the referee conference. I will share a longer blog post with rugby referee Alain Rolland’s story later. Now you’ll get one tip you will benefit from every game. Rolland’s advice: visualise game situations as match preparation.

Visualise game situations you need to judge in the future.

Visualise game situations you possibly need to judge in the future.

Ever wondered why top referees look so calm on the pitch?

“Some referees look so comfortably because they know what they’re doing”, Rolland says. And to be able to “read the game” a referee “needs to visualise game situations”, Rolland says. “Think about what to say during a match and how to say it.”

How is the Irish World Cup final referee doing that? He’s sitting “comfy on his sofa with no disturbances. Then I spend 20-25 minutes by thinking what you will say in certain situations. I’m exhausted after that period. I am forcing myself to think about what I need for that. This match preparation works for me.”

Please try it and share your experiences with me!

Do you have any specific technique or training that helps in your match preparation?

Referee Mark Halsey’s road to recovery

Referee Mark Halsey got cancer … and beat it. I got the chance to meet him personally and wrote some tips from him below.

The crowd of referees was silent when Halsey told his personal story at the referee conference in Dublin. He told us about the moment he heared he got throat cancer and how he recovered from it. “It’s amazing what you can achieve”, he says with a smile. Want to read the full story of his recovery?  Then get is book Added Time: Surviving Cancer, Death Threats and the Premier League.

Me and referee Mark Halsey during the conference.

Me and referee Mark Halsey during the conference.

Halsey pointed out 5 characteristics that helped him get back on the pitch again. These things are not just things you need when you get very ill. You will need these characteristics as well to reach the top as match official in any sport.

Referee Mark Halsey’s 5 characteristics

  1. Dedication
  2. Positivity
  3. Determination
  4. Hard work
  5. Enjoyment

It was a Thursday. Just a few days before Everton – Arsenal, the first game of the 2009-2010 season, when referee Mark Halsey heared he got cancer. “I had to come in on Monday to take it out, the doctor told me.” Halsey tought it would be his last game as a referee. After a second series of chemo the doctor told him the cancer was gone. From then on he was determined “to go back into the game”.

Halsey showed a video of how he was after receiving chemo therapy (embedded it on bottom of this post as well). He had to go a long way to be top fit again, but with dedication and the idea he could really do it, he worked for days in the gym. “But I pushed myself far too fast”, Halsey says. He failed for the first fitness test. “I never failed one before. I didn’t even phone my wife I didn’t pass.”

He worked even harder and the second time he passed. “There wer lots of tears.” Tears of enjoyment. His first game after he had to quit in 2009 was between Leicester City’s reserves team and Scunthorpe United’s reserves. Almost a year after he got the horrible news he was back in the Premier League again with a game between Wigan Athletic and Blackpool.

These five characteristics brought referee Mark Halsey a lot. His advice: “If you want to reach your goals, you can achieve everything if you have set your mind to it.”

Got inspired by his story? Then get his book Added Time: Surviving Cancer, Death Threats and the Premier League on Amazon. That gives you an interesting read and if you click the links in this post Amazon will sponsor my blog with a small amount of money.

More from Referee Conference in Dublin

7 lessons from David Coldrick for referees in all sports.

Also worth watching is the movie “Referee Mark Halsey’s road to recovery”.

Coach educates pupils to respect the referee

Every referee experiences it: coaches that yell at you.

But luckily not every coach is like that. I found this video on YouTube a coach educates pupils to respect the referee. He has some wise lessons for his pupils. The bottom line: respect the referee.

Coach educates pupils respect

Here are his lessons and I hope many coaches will teach this to their pupils:

“We can’t control the opponent or the official. But we can control our reaction.”

“It’s very important to respect the referee.”

“As captain you can be respectful to the ref. If you are a captain and are disrespectful, you can get a card as well.”

“Most referees make only 1 or 2 mistakes in a game. 3 or 4 tops. An official is never going to make more mistakes than you in a game.”

“Referees are in the game because they love the game. We want to keep them in the game. Give them the respect they deserve.”

Watch full video below:

Roberto Payer’s life lessons for referees

That story has some lessons which would be helpful for referees, is what I thought after reading the interview with Robert Payer in Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad. He’s the general manager of hotels Waldorf Astoria and Hilton Amsterdam. Payer grew up in Italy and worked his way up from servant to general manager. In the section “Life lessons” he talks about things he learned and helped him in his career.

Below I’ve worked out three of quotes and how referees can learn from that.

Roberto Payer

Ambition and hard work

“Too many people want to earn a lot of money, but don’t want to work hard for that.” Payer says he started as a young servant in a hotel and worked hard getting better jobs at the hotel and finally getting promoted as director at the age of 38.

It works the same for referees. You will not become an international referee if you don’t work hard or have a straight goal you’re working at. And sometimes that takes some jobs/exercises you really don’t like like dish washing (mr. Payer) or training in the rain during holidays when everybody else is relaxing (referee).


“It is normal that you feel uncertain when you are young, but be convinced of your own qualities without being cocky.”

When you have that ambition, you need to believe in it. You need to have confidence that you are going to reach your goal. Always remind yourself that you have it in you to reach what you want to. And the addition of Robert Payer about being cocky is very important too. Some referees have a mentor but always try ignore the criticism, which is just meant to give you things to work on so you could improve yourself.


“I am strict. I see everything. I even see it when someone of my team has not shaven himself properly, I’ll send him home to do it again.”

And another one about appearance: “I love good quality, that’s what I’ve learnt from my parents. It’s better to have one great suit than three wrong ones.”

Both quotes are about appearance and both make sure you need to look good and pay attention to that. When walking into the boardroom of the football club you’re going to referee that first impression is very important. It’s very sloppy when your shirt is not tucked in your short. Players might take you less serious. When everything is perfect they have nothing to comment about and they’ll think about football.

That brings me to another question I’ve discussed with dr. Errol Sweeney. He asked me after a previous blog post why I never wear suit and tie. No special reason for that, it’s very common in The Netherlands on youth level to be dressed with suit and shirt. So please tell me what’s most common in your country to wear before a match?

Tips from an FA Tutor: Managing Corner Kicks

Dutch Referee Blog got lucky that Stephen Green, referee and L4 FA tutor from Reading, wants to share some of his tips with my readers. Thanks for that, much appreciated. His first post is: “Tips from an FA Tutor: Managing Corner Kicks”

Stephen Green: referee and FA tutor.

Stephen Green: referee and FA tutor about managing corner kicks.

Throughout my refereeing career I have always found corner kicks some of the most difficult situations to manage. It is not unusual to have 15 to 18 players in, or immediately around, one penalty area. Here are a few tips that have helped me:


  1. Take up a position with as many players in view as possible.
  2. Make sure that you have an unobstructed view of the goalkeeper – he is the player most likely to be fouled.
  3. Give the players a loud verbal warning to keep their arms down, even though they may not be doing anything. It makes them aware of what you are looking for.
  4. Deal with any jostling or pushing before the kick is taken if you can. Warn the players clearly so if they are then penalised there is credibility for your decision and they can’t really complain – although they probably still will!
  5. Vary your position so that your position doesn’t become predictable and so the players won’t be sure of where you are. A good time to do this is just as the corner kick is being taken as the players will now be concentrating on the ball rather than you.
  6. Look where the attacking players are positioning themselves. This will give you an idea of where the ball is going to be played.
  7. Look at whether the kicker is right or left footed. A right footed kicker taking a corner from the right means it is almost certain to swing out. Similarly, a left-footed kicker from the right will almost certainly swing it in towards the goal with greater likelihood of a foul on the goalkeeper.
  8. If you don’t have qualified Assistant Referees then don’t position yourself too far out from the goal-line because you will need to be goal judge and most goal-line clearances happen at corner kicks.
  9. Don’t worry about quick breaks. This is low on your list of priorities and you will hopefully catch up with play in time.

I hope you could learn something from these tips for Managing Corner Kicks. Have one yourself? Please it below in the comments.