2014

I’ve been wanting to write this reflection post since September but promised to save it for the end of the year.

My first year on the next level list of referees but so many things to learn from.

Fitness

I ran once a week in the off-season but it has made a massive impact in the difference my fitness has played a role on the field.

The training was initially for fear of performing poorly on the fitness test but after a few actual runs of the test, I lost the fear that I might fail.

It isn’t just about being able to run further but having the right mental frame of mind in the 90th minute when things go crazy and a sharp mind and quick decision is required. Not to mention that it has provided me with the comfort level to run a great distance. I could feel the threat of a muscle pull at the end of matches through the previous year but the thought is far from my mind now. I feel the difference that the training has had physically on my body both during the game and after.

Fitness and running. “Bleurgh”. Likely the reaction from most people who look at those two words.

My Garmin watch has been very useful in tracking fitness and training data. It’s made fitness more of a game for me and provided a level of interest that mundane jogging simply wouldn’t be able to provide on its own. A worthy and well-spent purchase for the year. It continues to make training and refereeing on the pitch more than just the experience. I would recommend it to anyone else depending on the level of games you officiate.

Travel

Another big change this year was securing my driver’s licence and driving around for match appointments. Without the aid of a very helpful car rental company, I would not have been able to travel outside my local area. A lot of my games were limited by the distance I could travel but I was able to push beyond the boundaries this year.

Carpooling also became a theme since games required more travel and being paired with referees from my local area presented the opportunity to bond and talk with many of them at length as a match appointment really became a full match day commitment especially at the end of the season.

Above all, my enthusiasm for travel has prevailed. Most people don’t enjoy the travel part of refereeing but luckily being a new driver, I can safely say I have and it has far from deterred me from wanting more or the fear of travelling further away for now… Only time will tell.

Technique & Style

I approached the new season trying to adopt a more empathetic approach and have a stronger feel for the game but I found I took the wrong approach. Having quiet words before they were needed which led to players simply getting annoyed and wanting to get on with the game. Empathetic didn’t mean having to visibly show it or let myself become a pushover. I could feel the impact and push-back of this style not working up until mid-season. I changed it around based on my observations which let me have a strong finish at the end of season.

The next target is elite confidence.

Refereeing at Different levels

This has truly been a roller-coaster.

I have been truly astounded as to how much one can learn from a bad game. Not just the immediate aftermath or the reflections in the weeks to follow but even the next year! Game #12 was on a class of its own in my appointments in 2013.

From what I have experienced so far, there are two types of games. Ones that you would call tugs as fouls and the one where you don’t. The former are typically youth games or district level Mens games. The latter is for higher competition levels and age groups above U17 where the players simply want to play and somewhat enjoy the physicality. It makes the game more of a spectacle to allow them to focus on the game and frankly less work for the referee to be constantly calling fouls.

This often makes re-obtaining match control much more difficult without having to drastically change the threshold of fouls but is much more of a pleasure to officiate. I think many officials make the mistake of confusing this line of fouls in games which either lets youth games get out-of-hand or adult games with too many stoppages and foul decisions resulting in dissent. The latter the case of Game #12 indeed. A common observation is that this higher level appears to have players being far more “frisky”.

Observations

Having spent a year on the list, it meant a change in focus. Stabilising my refereeing and observing more closely, referees at the next level has been a task this year. What have I noticed that the best of the best do? Confidence. Not your average confidence but an elite level of confidence and firm (not necessarily strict) authority on the field. How to replicate that? I don’t know but I know it’s the key to the next step.

Goals

Looking to next year’s goals:

  • Keep up with the rate of blog posts
  • Turn this to a .com after 100K views
  • Start an online referee store attached to this blog
  • Settle again after yet another move and pick up where I left off
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