To my surprise, I found out that FIFA has three different referee fitness testing systems for the various sports! I’ve been training for the FIFA HI test all this while in my football goals.
I’ve clipped out FIFA’s Regulations for Refereeing for the Member Associations here. This only contains the fitness testing component for referees for easy reference.
As a result I decided to have a run at the Futsal test in Week 52, two days after my HI run.
Here’s an example table of the rate of speed that needs to be travelled at the FIFA level in each test. There are many other factors involved but the running speed that needs to be achievable is demonstrated.
Min Speed (m/s)1.43N/AN/A
|Test||High Intensity||Futsal Endurance||Cooper|
|Max Speed (m/s)||5||4.16||3.75|
|Duration of Max Speed (s)||30 (0.5 min)||240 (4 min)||720 (12 min)|
|Min Speed (m/s)||1.43||N/A||N/A|
|Duration of Min Speed (s)||35 (0.58 min)||N/A||N/A|
Three parts to the test were Endurance, Speed & Agility.
The endurance test was 1000m in 4 minutes and looked quite daunting. Having trained for the Cooper, and using 4 minutes to cover 1km as a goal, this was no easy task. Since we were using a 250m track, we needed to cover one lap every minute.
The first minute came at 38 seconds. Second at 1:50. Third at 3 minutes. Oh oh… We were slowing down (I was running with my training partner). As you can imagine the fourth was a nervous lap.
Having covered half the fourth lap, there was just barely 20 seconds left so the fast run turned into a sprint with several checks to the watch and we broke the barrier just at 3:59. The FIFA Futsal referee standard for it is 4 minutes. Just a second to spare.
This was an area I was completely unfamiliar with because I had no clue where I stood with this test. I lined up on the sprinting lane which was marked out in 10 metre intervals. Perfect for my purposes. My partner had a watch ready in hand and with a verbal countdown, I sent a message to my legs to kick forward and go at the mark!
It went by quickly and I was really trying to prevent an injury while trying to get the best score. There was no time to get into full steam on the sprint because by the time I reached an optimal speed, I had to slow down to touch the end line, turn and sprint back. I clocked just under 10 seconds. Another part of the test I escaped safely.
It was important to note that I did not run the Speed and Agility test on a Futsal court as specified. The biggest difference would be that there would be far more traction on a Futsal court surface since I would prefer to use my Futsal boots. I feel it would have given me a better advantage but you never know until you try! Things looks different on paper.
By far the most exciting part of the test with the description of all the various exercises.
30 metre sprint forward. 10 metres side-stepping to the left. 10 metres side-stepping to the right. 10 metres back-pedalling and then a 20 metre sprint back to the starting point.
Since we were on an athletic track, I didn’t have the open-space to execute this and running in the opposite direction is frowned upon so I selected the outer track on the edge of the oval to use a sprinting track. Having described the test to my partner, who was timing me, he chuckled and told me that I would never be able to match the FIFA standard. Having never tried it before either and not being a great estimator of track, I shrugged and knew I would give it my best. The stakes were then raised for our post workout Tim Hortons snack. Winner gets it free!
Note that we did stuff out of order. Between the Speed and Agility test, we ran 10 laps of the Athletic track. As a result, my routine wasn’t a complete vacation. The real fitness test has a 5 minute break in between. I didn’t have any!
With a single lane in an athletic track that I could use, I placed cones along it 40 metres down and figured out that I would have to stop at every checkpoint to simulate turns (circling cones). This test allowed for a dynamic start (1.5 metres space behind the start line). As I prepped and counted myself down, I was ready to give it my best.
I kicked off and this time there was more time to use a sprint to cover distance. Well really only about 10 metres. The other two 10s were spent accelerating and decelerating. It felt like a lot of work doing all the changes in speed just to get ready for a different movement technique! I slowed. Turned to the right.
The side-stepping started. Brisk side-stepping 10 metres. This was the hard part. I was trying to focus on not clicking my heels together. Worse than that was that the next reference point was out of sight. My body and face were away from where the next checkpoint is so I needed to judge and quickly glance at where I expected it to be. Every millisecond matters so I had to execute the stop and turn well otherwise I would overshoot and cover too much distance and waste too much time. Luckily, it wasn’t much of a problem.
I stopped at the end for a brief half-second and then kept my body oriented in the same direction to side-step the other way and exercise a different set of muscles by side-stepping to the right. This time I felt it was easier to guess where the upcoming checkpoint cone would be because more light was shining in on that part of the track.
I slowed down again and had to turn to the left to give my back to the finish line and then start back-pedalling. I was almost done the test! I had no clue how long I had taken but it felt like eternity. I glimpsed the orange cone on the ground out of the corner of my eye and then shifted my weight across my body (no stop was needed here) and converted all my back-pedalling momentum to forward motion so that I could end in a short sprint. This was an area I had to be careful in because I didn’t want to step awkwardly and end up with a twisted ankle or worse! Again, luckily no problem.
A short sprint to the end and I let myself sail after the finish line; the muscles had taken a pounding in constant changes of accelerating, decelerating, side-stepping & back-pedalling. I didn’t want to over-exert them by quickly halting at the end.
I returned back to the start line and raised my chin to hear “HAH!”. Fearing the worst, I was afraid I had crossed the target. The snack wasn’t on my mind. It was really a matter of pride. He smiled and said “I’m just kidding. You did fine. 17.5 seconds”
A mental fist-pump and I enjoyed having done the test although I would be very interested in re-producing it under the exact conditions to see how I would do. A double-chocolate donut later might have destroyed that work-out but I needed to recharge! Come on. I need a break sometimes right? I mean my metabolism should be good given that I am “young” no? I should have taken a photo of the donut to post here. Will do it next time.
Having chatted with a few mentors later, they weren’t surprised in hearing my results saying I had youth on my side. I attempted to counter that the High Intensity wasn’t very kind and favourable to youth but we all knew it was a different type of test being football referees.
It was exciting to have tried it out. It’s definitely not my last attempt. I will try the Speed and Agility test on court in two weeks when I have access again during futsal referee training.
Preparing for the Season and Getting Comfortable
Becoming a good football/futsal referee takes a lot of practice. This is aided by doing what we can off the field so that we are better prepared on the field. In the past couple of football matches outdoors, I had a bit of trouble adjusting the tightness and comfort level of my Ervocom strap.
I also noticed that other referees were covering their receiver with cloth material to absorb sweat and avoid the strap taking in all the sweat. This wasn’t an issue I was dealing with.
The sweat-wicking arm bands I bought were for this purpose so I put it on this training day and did all the training with it on to find an appropriate comfort level. It took several tries but I found the best adjustment and hopefully can fix it better.
I was concerned about image in keeping the receiver hidden under my armband but having watched a few clips, the right place on my arm would reveal half of it. Comfort is more important than subtly in the end.