Building up intensity of referee training after a break

A new fitness exercise: building up intensity of referee training after a break. Usually after the season and in the half-way break you try to take some rest as a referee. Dutch pro referee fitness trainer Hilco de Boer has an important tip for you. When you get back into your fitness regime, make sure you’re building up intensity of referee training gradually. Because that prevents you from getting injuries.

Training session 1 after the break

The first training session focuses on endurance, because it’s not good to start with sprints immediately.

The training you’ll do firsty is an extensive endurance training. “If you follow an extensive endurance training you train at low intensity, but usually for a longer time.” So you will not overload your muscles right after a break. “Because of the duration of the training you’ll get fatigued”. Read more about the 4 types of referee training sessions.

Training 1 trains your recovery. De Boer gives three levels in his newsletter. Always make sure to do a proper warming-up first!

His advice for who measures heart rate: 60-75% HFmax

  • 1st level: 3x 12 mins of running with a rest period of 2 minutes in between (walking)
  • 2nd level: 3x 14 mins of running with a rest period of 2 minutes in between (walking)
  • 3rd level: 4x 12 mins of running with a rest period of 2 minutes in between (walking)

When you repeat the sessions, make sure you’ll change the running pace every sixty seconds. Or you can also train by using the exercise pictured below.

Building up intensity of referee training

Training session 2 after the break

You’ll pick up more speed this session, but no sprints for a whole session yet. Firstly, do a good warming-up.

Exercise 1

After the warming-up you’ll start with an exercises to prepare for more speed in the next week. In The Netherlands we use the German word Steigerung for this. You’ll start slowly, but your speed will increase the further you go.

8 times a Steigerung of 40 metres. After this distance you max sprint speed is 80%. Lets say you add some extra speed every 10 metres.

As you notice, this is not a long sprint. If you do more interval training, you’ll get used to do longer distances. For now: don’t start too quickly.

Exercise 2

The second exercises of this second training is an intensive endurance training. You’ll notice the resemblance with the training from session 1, but the time you’ll run is shorter. Advice: heartrate 76-85% HFmax. As you notice, this is quicker than in the first training. This means: quicker runs.

  • 1st level: 4x 6 mins of running with a rest period of 2 minutes in between (walking)
  • 2nd level: 4x 7 mins of running with a rest period of 2 minutes in between (walking)
  • 3rd level: 4x 8 mins of running with a rest period of 2 minutes in between (walking)

When you repeat the sessions, make sure you’ll change the running pace every thirty seconds.

Building up intensity of referee training: your plans?

How are you building up intensity of referee training sessions? What makes an exercise a good one for you?

3 lessons from George Gansner’s referee career

George Gansner will referee his 200th MLS game on Sunday 3rd of August. I’ts an honour for him to reached this milestone.

George Gansner

George Gansner

“I’ve had some great experiences, learning from the guys who were originals on the FIFA assistant referee list in 1996, which was such a benefit. If I can now teach the younger guys something, that’s huge for me”, he told

Gansner is currently the sixth-most experienced assistant referee on the PRO roster in terms of games officiated. He is happy that his referee organisation now focusses more on the quality of AR’s. “Assistants have always been the forgotten piece and the focus has been on the referees – which is fine – but we need that type of training too and PRO has brought that to the table.”

3 lessons from George Gansner

1. Love it!
I made 10-12 bucks a game, but was doing 4 or 5 games on both Saturday and Sunday. I guarantee you, I made more money than all of my friends. But it wasn’t about the money, although it was nice at the time. You got to do it, because you love it.

2. Set goals in your career

George Gansner plus team.

George Gansner (right) entereing the field of play with the refereeing team.

At the start of his career George Gansner made a plan for refereeing. His chance to referee at a World Cup was 2010. While playing football his college coach asked him to quit refereeing, but Gansner didn’t want to, he told during a PSA referee meeting . He worked hard to reach his goals and became an national referee.

Have you ever considered where your top is and how you could reach that as a referee? Ask yourself when could be the year you’ll be refereeing at the World Cup.

3. You can’t control career
Although setting goals for yourself, you can’t control your career. Some calls during can be crucial for the rest of your career, but you’ll never know what else will happen.

Early in Gansner’s career, only 26 years old, he made a very important call. A ball was barely touched by a player in offside decision, but he noticed it. “Even ESPN has to show three replays that it was the right call”, says Gansner. The first impression of him assistant referee at the highest national level was very good. “Lucky things have to happen in your career.”

In 2002 Gansner became a Fifa referee, but not everything went planned. His hips caused fitness problems, and Gansner failed a fitness test for the Olympics. He thought: “My dream is over now”. After the surgery he could remain an international referee, but did not make it to the 2014 World Cup.

“My goal was to get through the 2014 cycle, whether I got to a World Cup or not,” Gansner told “After that I was always going to consider coming off, and now feels like the right time. Of course I would love to stay on the panel until I’m 45 but I think it makes more sense to step back and let somebody else have the opportunity.” Gansner, now 42, will be too old to serve as an assistant referee at 2016’s World Cup in Russia.

Check out the presentation from George Gansner at the PSA referee meeting

Photo of George Gansner plus refereeing team: Creative Commons via StubbyFingers.

Photo series: World Cup preparation for referees

Photo series: World Cup preparation for referees. The photo’s are made Lorenzo Fontani, a Sky Sport journalist. He published them on Twitter and I embedded them in the blog post below.

All referees doing their excercises.

Photo of Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura.

Nicola Rizzoli check the video screen during the world cup preparation for referees.

Björn Kuipers looks very happy during the Fifa training for referees.

Felix Brych on the sidelines.

The photo’s in this photo series “World Cup preparation for referees” were embedded from Twitter and made by Lorenzo Fontani.

Referee training session: the pyramid run

This week I completed my first full training session after my broken ankle. One day later: no ankle pain, only sore legs. It feels great.

Sharing this happy news on Facebook I got asked what kind of training session I did. That triggered me, because how referees train in other train, could be interesting for everyone in the refereeing community. Please let me know what your training sessions look like.

Mine started with a warm-up session: some easy running around the football pitch for about 15 mintues. Then the heavy task began. As the trainer says: “Competition starts again next weekend. This excercise will let you know how good your physical condition and endurance is. It will show you if you’re ready for the second part of the season.”

Then we began with the so-called pyramid run. We – around twenty referees present – started on the baseline (see red line in picture added below). The trainer has placed pilons each ten metres over a distance of hundred metres. The idea: sprinting to the 1st pilon, endurance back. Endurance to second, endurance back. Sprinting to the third and other uneven pilons, endurance back. Even pilons endurance both ways to recover from the sprint.

When we reached pilon ten in endurance mode, we did the same again starting at ten now with sprinting, nine endurance, eight and all other even ones sprinting, etc.


Referee training session: pyramid run. Photo: Paul Flannery (Creative Commons)

It was a very heavy one, I can assure you. After the pyramid run we needed to do six 30 meter sprints, with a short period of rest between them. Then cooling down and a nice and hot shower. Luckily my ankle was doing great during this referee training session. What a feeling to be back on the football field again.

Please share your ideal training session? Does your RA have material on it’s website? Please send me some links.