Improve acceleration as referee

How to improve acceleration as referee? Being in the right position is crucial for referees. If you want to get there, acceleration is a key physical factor. In this blog post FIFA Fitness Instructor Stephen Oduor and Polish referee and fitness expert Michal Bobrek share some great insights on how you can improve your acceleration. 

Firstly, I’ll show you the Fitness Friday video. In this you’ll learn how to improve the acceleration part of your fitness. Below the video we’ll get more in-depth and you can see some exercises as well. 

Why acceleration in refereeing is different than athletics

Michał Bobrek is a referee and fitness instructor in Poland. He says sprints for match officials in the Champions League are different than the sprints by Usain Bolt or Dafne Schippers. “Acceleration in refereeing differs from standard acceleration patterns often seen in 100 m sprint.” 

“In athletics we want to accelerate long enough so we can finish the race with maximal velocity, without slowing down.” When refereeing football we want to achieve something else. “When chasing an action on the field, we want to get into an optimal spot to watch the situation from the right angle and proximity. That means that we want to accelerate really quick to get maximal speed soon enough.”

How to deal with different starting position

Bobrek says also the starting position is not the same. “Angles are different when we’re starting from upright position compared to the low stance seen in athletics.” That is also why focusing on technique is crucial, according to FIFA fitness instructor Stephen Oduor. And if you’re not sure about that, contact a physical instructor to watch you run. Oduor agrees that refs do different things, so should also train differently. “Athlete’s run to compete. Referees run with a purpose focusing on action areas on the field and making decisions.”

If you want to deal with the different starting positions as referee, make sure you train in such a way. You can make the start dynamic, because that’s match-specific for referees. For example, when moving sideways, backwards or while jogging or walking. Do that for 5 metres and then start your sprints. 

At least 1 speed training session per week

Simon Breivik, Head of Fitness for the referees in the Premier League, also spoke on fitness in a magazine from the RA. His advice: “To complement strength training, all match officials must perform a weekly speed training session, preferably on grass.”

TIP: 5 fitness lessons by Simon Breivik for referees

Improve acceleration as referee - photo of me in action

Short sprints with enough rest improves acceleration

But what kind of sprints should you train? Stephen Oduor advices to do short sprints with plenty of rest. Unlike the speed endurance sessions I’ve recently published, where you are not fully recovered before the next run at high speed follows.The full recovery makes it able to give everything all the time.

Simon Breivik suggests you the following exercise:

“By performing between ten and twenty short (10m to 60m) but very explosive sprints, interspersed with plenty of rest, you will enhance your body’s ability to accelerate while increasing your top speed”

Tips on running technique that will help

Polish fitness expert Michał Bobrek explains what is crucial for optimal acceleration. “If I had to choose the most basic advice on how to get better accelerating, that would be aggressive arm action and horizontal force production.”

How do you benefit from this? “Explosive arm action helps us drive the legs, which ultimately helps us move from a place on the field more efficiently. Horizontal force production means that we have to generate horizontal body impulse. We have to lean our torso and propel our body forward, not upward, for the first couple steps.”

In the following video I’ve covered couple exercises which can help you get the most out of your acceleration. They’re all very helpful with generating horizontal force production on the field.

On ‘s website is a lot of information and you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook too.

Video’s to improve acceleration as referee

acceleration from FitRef on Vimeo.


  • Kishan Dash

    We the referees generally dont get any guidance or advice for our regular training sessions, we all do the drills and exercises on our own, without knowing wheather we should or shouldn’t do all these. Thank you very much for sharing knowledge to develope referee’s fitness all over the world.

    My heartily request to you that please share a full week workout session, including for speed l, endurance and weight training to be done in each day of the week. The schedule may contain the day wise workouts & trainings with video demonstrations & on FOP diagram.

    Waiting for your kind help for developing of our fitness.

    • Jan ter Harmsel

      I am not a fitness expert, so don’t have weekly programmes that I create. But did share some great exercises by Stephen Oduor and Werner Helsen> Hopefully they help you too!

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