Match preparation for referees

Match preparation for referees. Some great examples from top referee Clément Turpin, who’ll officiate this week’s World Cup Qualifier between The Netherlands and Norway. You’ll read how a top referee prepares for a game.

Clément Turpin organises the match prepration around 4 topics. He shares his experiences in the documentary Men in the Middle by Uefa.

Clément Turpin in the Uefa documentary.

Turpin finds the balance on the countryside and the hectic life as football referee with games all over Europe. He became a referee at the age of 16, but he never saw him self 20+ years later as an international referee. 

On this top level it’s crucial for him to know everything. “We have to play on details. And these details, if you don’t have persons to help you to show what are these details, then it’s very difficult.” Make sure you have a mentor or coach who can guide you.

Roberto Rosetti was his mentor 4 years ago and he helped him with finalising these last details that made him the referee that could become an Uefa Elite referee. “It’s so important to have a person with a lot of experience and a fantastic spirit to push you to reach this target.” 

4 topics to focus on

Turpin works for the regional referee department now, because that gives him a chance to help other referees improve. In the documentary he shares 4 topics which are crucial for his preparation on a match.

  • Tactical organisation
  • Set pieces – “in modern football set pieces are so important”
  • Offside situations
  • Behaviour of the players

“Thanks to these 4 topics I try to have a perfect view of both teams.”

Focus on tactical organisation

Most teams use a similar tactical approach each game. If you know how they build up their attacks, you can anticipate on that with your positioning. Because it’s crucial to be close to the next situation, you can adapt your positioning based on the way a team plays. If a team always takes a short goal-kick, you’ll place yourself deeper in their own half. When a team quickly storms forward when gaining the ball. you can work on your positioning in counter-attacks. \

Set pieces

As referee it’s important to know how a team takes their free kicks and other set pieces. John Balvers is the video analyst for the Dutch top referees. “Players often react the same way”, he says in an interview on my blog. He gives an example how he helps Bjorn Kuipers prepare and see patterns. “In the game against Sevilla the Shakhtar Donetsk players took their corner kicks with short pass to a team mate. As referee you need to be aware that players that things will happen  around the corner flag.” It gives the referee an idea where his focus (also) should be.

Offside situations

One of the most decisive decisions in matches is the judgement of offside. It’s important to know how a team plays. Website Keys To Football refers to a situation where Mark Clattenburg has done his homework when officiating FC Barcelona. He received a tip from Pierluigi Collina that Thiago Alcantara was moving in offside position, then coming back and blocking a defender. When you know this, you can pay attention to it and spot the foul.

Similar situations you can prepare for if a team plays with a deep striker, who usually doesn’t receive the ball from the back, but is in offside position. As refereeing team you’ll be more aware about the wait-and-see.

Behaviour of the players

Lastly, the behaviour of players. Referees know who the troublemakers are in a team. No, you shouldn’t book them because they’re troublemakers, but doing a good preparation will make you aware who they are. This gives you a chance to prevent them from getting you or others in trouble during a game.

An interesting case in this matter: Sergio Ramos and Björn Kuipers.

Your take on match preparation for referees

I’d love to hear your take on match preparation for referees. What do you do to prepare for a game? Please comment below or on the Instagram post.

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