A Hand at Instructing

I thought I would take a shot at instructing since I’ve been doing a lot of studying off-the-field and wanted to get back to a more direct role of teaching referees.

In the past, I had mentored and taught brand new referees but this was a different ball game. A room full of referees vastly more experienced than I was. Quite intimidating.

Now I needed a good topic to start my first official topic so I thought… and thought.

Roberto Rosetti using Body Language to direct players away from his AR

Inspiration really struck me while watching an old match between Chelsea and Manchester City that took place on 12th December 2011. Mark Clattenburg’s body language after a play approximately 30 minutes into play struck me as very interesting. I knew then and there that I needed to present on my favourite aspect of refereeing. The part that makes every referee unique. Their body language. This is the part of their leadership, their charisma and their personality that is crucial to true mastery of man management on the field.

Clattenburg Video: http://www.flickr.com/photos/92471383@N03/8488547953/

This is the part of watching other referees that is really enjoyable for me. You can learn a language by speaking it or listening to it but learning referee body language only comes through watching other referees at work and experimenting. I love watching different pieces of body language at work, choosing my favourites and practicing it in front of the mirror enough times until it comes naturally to me on the field. It’s important to be able to mould any body language you use with your personality because players will sense any artificial part of your personality which can quickly break down your authority on the field. The players will know you are a fraud.

Clattenburg's Body Language

Clattenburg’s Body Language attempting to show he tried to play advantage

A FIFA Instructing Session

Having worked on the content for two months, I was starting to get a little nervous leading up to the presentation because public speaking has never been my favourite experience. Nevertheless, I had joined Toastmasters to overcome this fear as referee instructing was an eventual goal in my career. I journeyed back to the town I started my refereeing in in anticipation of the next RA meeting. 24 hours later, I met with an old mentor of mine, OC. We ate a small meal an hour before and discussed details on how to approach the session. We drove together to the session and although our arrival was only 10 minutes before the meeting, I was quickly able to get set up. My heart rate was going through the roof at this point in anticipation and surely enough, I was able to use some remembered breathing techniques to keep and appear as calm as I could. I remember a colleague, JP, whom I had invited, smiling at me from the audience and giving me a little motivation while setting-up. Thankfully he helped a lot!

I had kept my session’s topic secret until this point. I had alluded to some topic in Law 5 but had left the specifics a mystery. I had hoped that the jitters would disappear once the session had hit full-swing but it oddly didn’t. The intention of the session was to hit 45 minutes in length but I went well over and reached 1 hour 20 minutes as the video discussions lasted a lot longer than I had thought. I knew I had to cover all the videos to make the session worthwhile so despite seeing my watch eat away at the allocated time, I continued on.

I pulled out every public speaking trick I had in my book to make the session as interactive and as entertaining as I could and I was pleasantly surprised by the audience reaction I was able to invoke. Laughter was rife across the presentation on some of my jokes. Put me in front of 22 crazy players, coaches, substitutes & spectators and I have no problem speaking but a room full of senior referees. PHEW! That’s a different story even if I know what I’m talking about!

The session concluded and I sheepishly accepted the applause at the end as I was well aware of my mistakes in the session although nothing detrimental had happened. This sunken feeling mirrors what I usually feel after most games as the ability to get everything right isn’t easy. In fact it is down right impossible! The wave of “Thank you”s later gave me the encouragement that it was great. The real encouragement I got was when our resident FIFA Referee, SP, who was in attendance, approached me to congratulate me and asked me for the content! I would say that is enough to give a check mark on a successful first education session!

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