How to deal with a long period without games to officiate?

How to deal with a long period without games to officiate? You are now out of necessity in a period without matches. Mentally this can be quite a challenge, but what is the best way to deal with it? 

This is a question that was posed in the KNVB newsletter for referees. And I am very happy that the author, KNVB referee physical trainer Wieke Hoogzaad, allows me to share her tips on this topic with the readers of my blog. I bet this story offers you tools to deal with this difficult situation during the corona crisis or when you’re injured for a longer period of time.

Wieke Hoogzaad: physical trainer for Dutch pro refs

About the author: Wieke Hoogzaad

Wieke Hoogzaad works 4+ years as physical trainer for the Dutch professional and amateur referees. She works a lot with Hilco de Boer, who I spoke with about the importance of fitness for referees. She also has her own company called WIZA Sport. Personally I’ve met her during a training session at the Hague’s referee association and she’s the one who conducts the annual fitness tests for referees. Yeah, she’s the one who tells me if my sprints were good enough 🙂 

How she personally dealt with this in her career

“I’d love to share something about myself. During my youth I enjoyed playing football and during my study Human Movement Sciences I came in contact with triathlon. 

Over the years I became more and more fanatic, especially when the decision was made that triathlon would be on the Olympic program in 2000 for the first time ever.” Hoogzaad’s hobby became her job, which resulted in some very good results. For example,  she became an European Champion, 5th at the World Championship 1/2 Ironman. And that’s not all: she qualified for the Olympic Games of Sydney and Athens and was regularly on the podium at World Cup games. “I was 5th on the world rankings in my best years.”

Periods without games and with injuries

“Except for the pleasure I had in training, the far travels and participating in games in top locations, not everything went easy”, she writes. In her 18 year long sports career she regularly had periods without games. “Almost every winter there was a winter break for 5 to 6 months and I was twice injured for a year. Those two periods were mentally possibly the toughest what I had to deal with in my career.” 

But she got through it all. “And althoug it might sound crazy, I came out stronger than before.” 

And that is why she wants to share some practical tips with you on how to deal with such a long and forced break below this image.

Wieke Hoogzaad

1. Positive mindset

“In this period with the corona virus the focus is on the things that we can’t do”

  • Group sessions are not allowed
  • Sport clubs close their doors
  • No more training the pitches, running tracks and gyms
  • Matches are cancelled

“Because this period will last for two to three months, a positive mindset is very important. Focus on the possibilities instead of the impossibilities.”

Wieke Hoogzaad wants to ask you: What can you still do? “Be creative, think outside the box. Maybe there are training opportunities in your neighbourhood that you haven’t discovered before. Or maybe your family member – maybe equipped with roller blades or bicyle – is the perfect training buddy. Make the training sessions that you do fun for and challenging for yourself. And forget what you can’t do!”

One of the fitness tips that Pierluigi Collina shared on my blog is that buddy as well. Check out Collina’s fitness tips.

2. Think in smaller blocks for the period without games

What helped Wieke Hoogzaad was dividing the period without matches and runs, is dividing them in smaller chunks from about 3 weeks. “For each block I created a subgoal for myself.”

As example Hoogzaad mentions improving your core stability as goal for the upcoming three weeks. “The three weeks after that you can focus on running technique and after that you’ll focus on the start speed of your sprints. And these are just a few examples.”

A few things to keep in mind here:

  • ask your fitness coach and trainer for advice
  • you always have something that you can improve
  • also plan short periods of rest 

“If you train like this, a longer period without end in sight, becomes more clear and manageable.” She has one important tip along with this: don’t forget the overall physical aspects in your training sessions, otherwise they’ll go backwards.”

More tips on effective goal-setting for referees.

3. Stick to a weekly routine

“Stick to a weekly routine”, is her advice. Because the daily routines get challenging and different now people work from home and sometimes have to educate their kids. “The daily routine is different than you are used to. That also applies to your training sessions.”

Her advise: 

  • Try to find a regular training schedule and rhythm that works for you.” 
  • Difficult? “Plan ahead on which days and times you’ll be training”
  • Inform your housemates about your plans and stick to them. 
  • Use your training goals. That gives you something to hold on and stimulates your motivation.

4. Patience and acceptance

“My final tip: be patient and accept the situation as it is.” She wants you to keep in mind you’re not he only one in this situation. Resignation is the magic word in her opinion, as times will change. “And who knows we’ll come out stronger and wiser than before and has this period been good for something …”

How difficult is it for you to get motivated?

How difficult is it for you to get motivated? You can respond via the Twitter poll for a few days and also reply in the comments below. Love to hear from you.


  • stevekelly

    |Hi Jan Great article Thank you. I am very lucky that here in England football is going on at the moment , however the article is still very useful and helpful

    Best Wishes to you and your family for the festive season

    SteveKelly London England

    • Jan ter Harmsel

      Thanks for your comment, Steve. Yeah, we had a period that we played football too. Hopefully soon. I hope it gets people in the right mindset, as many of these things will work well to get you in a mode where fitness is scheduled in the calendar. Stay safe, Steve!

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