Recovery strategies for referees should be an important part of your routines after a game. Recovery is key! It starts as soon as you walk off the pitch at the end of the game. You might have another game to get to or you might even be back out the next day for a game or 2. So making sure you start your recovery is vital to maintain performance in the coming games.
In this blog post you get tips for the recovery strategies for referees from Martin, he’s a physical performance coach based in the UK and you can find him as RefereeFit on Instagram. He’ll introduce himself below and will share his advice with you.
Martin: “I’ve been a referee for just over 10 years, starting out to help my son’s grassroots football team and give something back to the sport I loved to play. I’ve worked in full time professional sport, mainly in football in both the men’s and women’s game working with players up and down the English pyramid league system as a coach and within sports science and medicine. “
“I set up RefereeFit back in 2014 to help referees become fitter, stronger and improve their game, both physically and mentally. Since then, I have worked with 100s of referees from all over the world and hope to help 100s more fulfil their potential and dreams of reaching the top.”
Here are some tips you can do in the minutes and hours post-match to aid recovery.
Within 30 minutes after your game
Within 30 minutes aim for number 1 & 2 and try and do number 3 and 4:
- Cool down, getting into good habits of a proper cool down. Take time to stretch all major muscle groups. This will start to lower your heart rate and blood pressure and aid both physical and mental recovery.
- Consume a recovery drink, these are a mix of carbohydrates and protein (2:1 ratio). You need the carbs to refuel your body’s energy stores and the protein to aid muscle recovery and repair. You can have this ready in the locker room or in your bag, ready to go after full time.
- Consume a carbohydrate-based snack, especially important if you have another game to go to. Fruits are great here as will also help get all those vitamins and minerals back into your body to help with recovery. Other great snacks include: a carton of yoghurt, dried fruit and nuts, a few rice cakes with jam, peanut butter or cottage cheese.
- Ice! We don’t all have access to ice baths or ice machines directly after a game. But a cold shower can work wonders so embrace the cold. Stand under a cold shower for 20 seconds then increase the time each time. This can help boost your immune system and improve mental fatigue. Try it!
Within 1 hour: hydrate and eat
Within 1 hour aim for number 1 & 2 and try to do number 3 and 4.
- Hydration! Aim to drink 1x500ml of water. To really boost hydration, go for a high electrolyte drink or tablet. The sodium will help promote hydration.
- Eat. Aim for a carbohydrate-based meal but make sure you have lean protein and fats in there as well as lots of colour from vegetables. If you have a journey ahead of you, take a pre-prepared sandwich or wrap.
- Compression leggings. Until bedtime, especially if you have a long journey ahead of you. They will improve blood flow and oxygen to the leg muscles, helping them get back to peak performance.
- Massage. This can be done by yourself, massaging your legs to improve blood flow. A massage gun (percussion gun) can work and is easy to keep in the car to use if you are on a long journey or at home when you are relaxing in the evening.
Recovery strategies for referees within 24h
Withing 24 hours aim for number 1 & 2, and try to do numbers 3-6:
- Hydration! Aim to drink 1-2x500ml of rehydration drink on top of your normal water intake.
- Sleep! The one take home point for recovery is sleep! Getting enough (quantity) and the right quality of sleep. Aim for 8 hours of quality sleep; that is when the recovery really happens. A focus on quality here: make sure you have good bedtime habits and good sleep hygiene.
- Light exercise/ mobility and stretching. A little light exercise as ‘active recovery’ will aid recovery and preparation for the next game. A gentle walk with some yoga and/or stretching will not only promote physical recovery but mental recovery as well.
- Compression legging until bedtime.
- Massage or massage gun.
- Bathing. Contrast bath of 2 minutes hot then 2 minutes cold 4 times would be ideal but taking a bath or even better going to the pool for some recovery. At the pool you can take your body though its range of motion whilst reducing impact. Think of the movements you do on the pitch and replicate them slowly in the pool. Also, time to have a little fun in the water.
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