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Referee Fitness

The Importance of Warming Up (Introduction)

Warming your body up is an essential part of pre-match preparation and training as it prepares your body for action and improves your performance.

 Thought -  The first minute is as important as the ninetieth minute. Warming up will:


- Gradually increase your heart rate

- Increase the flexibility of your muscles, tendons and ligaments

- Improve speed

- Promote faster reactions

- Increase range of movement

- Reduce risk of injury

There are three phases to warming up.

The Importance of Warming Up (Phase 1 - General Warm Up)

The warm up should begin with exercises involving your whole body, and should last for about 5 -10 minutes, depending on the temperature. The aim of this phase is to:


- Raise the temperature of your body

- Raise the temperature of your muscles

- Increase the amount of blood flowing to your muscles

Start off with light jogging (e.g. 2 or 3 slow laps of the pitch) and include some skipping, backwards and sideways running and some arm circling to warm your upper body.

 Tip  - You should be sweating lightly at the end of this phase and your pulse rate should have risen to about 120 beats per minute before moving onto the next phase.

The Importance of Warming Up (Phase 2 - Stretching)

You should stretch those parts of your body that will be used during your match or training session.

Advice:  Hold each stretch for 10 seconds at the point of slight discomfort  relax then repeat 2 or 3 times.

Warning:  Never stretch cold muscles. DON'T BOUNCE.

Include the following stretches in your warm up:

 (i) Achilles Stretch

     Stand with one leg forward of the other, feet pointing forwards, back heel on the ground with the back leg slightly bent.

Keeping your back straight and your back heel on the ground - sit back until you can feel a stretch low down near your Achilles tendon.


(ii) Calf Stretch

     Stand with one leg forward of the other - slightly more than in the previous exercise - feet pointing forwards, back heel on the ground and the back leg straight.

Keeping your back straight and your back heel on the ground  bend your front knee and move your weight forward and down until you can feel the stretch on the back of your calf.


(iii) Quadriceps Stretch (front of thigh)

      Hold your foot with your hand and lift your foot up behind your buttock. Pull the foot back and away from the buttocks and push the knee towards the ground.

Use a wall or a partner if balance is a problem.


(iv) Hamstring Stretch (back of thigh)

      Stand with one leg forward of the other, feet pointing forwards. Push the hips back, bend your back leg slightly to support your weight, hands on supporting knee, then straighten your front leg. Increase the stretch by pushing your hips back and down.

For a further stretch pull your toes up.


Alternatively - you can sit down with your legs straight and grasp your toes and pull them towards you. Both these stretches are a far safer alternative to the touch your toes stretch.

Warning - Stretches which involve dropping down to touch the toes are not recommended.

(v) Groin Stretch

     Stand with your feet about 1 meter apart. Keeping your right leg straight, bend your left knee and lean your upper body towards the outstretched leg until you feel the stretch on the inside of your right thigh.


(vi) Side Stretch

      Stand with your feet wide apart and your hands down by your sides.

Lean to one side, reaching down with the hand to the knee.

For an extra stretch bring the other arm over the top of the head.

Warning - Do not bend forward or backward during this stretch and don't overstretch.

The Importance of Warming Up (Phase 3 - Specific Warm Up)

In this phase, which should last for about 5 minutes, the aim is to get ready for the task ahead by performing exercises that are directly related to the effort to be made, be it a match, training, or taking a test.

 You should include:

        - Bursts of shorter, faster runs (i.e. Running at match speed)

        - Twists and changes in direction

        - Short sprints

Tip - At the end of a warm up you should feel warm rather than hot and be slightly out of breath.

If your warm up is in preparation for a match you should aim to complete warming up 10 -15 minutes prior to the start of the game. Return to the dressing room and keep warm.

If you are warming up to train then off you go.


All this is fine for those of you refereeing in higher levels of football where there are facilities and the opportunity to warm up properly. But what about local football? What if you do not have a dressing room to return to, or if you do, it is a bus ride away?

 Thought - Warming up is important at all levels.

The first minute is as important as the ninetieth in all games. Injuries can occur in any match.


Advice -  Before putting on your boots, run on the spot for 2 - 3 minutes varying your pace every now and again.

Perform the stretching exercises.

Put your boots on, and run onto the centre of the field of play.

Run to one of the goals to check the nets and then run to the other end including changes in speed and direction as you go. Check the nets and run back to the centre circle.

The Importance of Warming Down

The Warm Down is very much neglected, but it is just as important as the Warm Up and should be performed after every training session and match.

Fact - The Warm Down is aimed at gradually returning the body to its resting state.

Advice - At the very least, on returning to the dressing room or on the completion of your training, you should repeat the stretching exercises performed as part of the warm up. This helps to prevent muscle stiffness and the onset of muscle soreness that can follow a particularly hard match or training session.


The Importance of Hydration (By Mike Misselbrook- FA Fitness Co- Ordinator)

Why do we need to drink water ?

 Our bodies are estimated to be about 60 to 70% water. Blood is mostly water and our muscles,lungs and brain contain a large amount of water.We need to drink because water is needed to regulate our body temperature and to provide the means for nutrients to travel to our organs.Water also transports oxygen to our cells, removes waste and protects our joints and organs.


What are the signs of DEHYDRATION ?

 We lose water through  urination , respiration and by sweating. If you are very active, you will lose more water than if you are sedentary. Diuretics such as caffeine and alcohol result in the need to drink more water, because they trick our bodies into thinking we have more water than we need. Symptoms  include  chronic pains in joints and muscles, lower back pain, headaches and constipation. Thirst is an obvious sign of dehydration and in fact , you need water long before you feel thirsty.


How much Water do you Need to Drink?

 A good estimate is to take your body weight in pounds  and divide that number in half. That gives you the number of ounces you should drink.If you weigh 160 pounds , you should drink at least 80 ounces of water per day. If you exercise you should drink an 8 ounce glass of water for every 20 minutes you are active. If you drink coffee or alcohol, you should drink at least an equal amount of water. If you are traveling on an airplane, it is good to drink 8 ounces of water for every hour you are on board. As you can see your daily need for water can add up to quite a lot.


Carry a Water Bottle

It may be difficult to drink enough water on a busy day. Be sure you have water handy at all times by carrying a bottle with you, when working, traveling or exercising. If you get bored with plain water, add a bit of lemon or lime for a touch of flavor.


Drink to Thirst

New evidence says that thirst is the best protection for athletes, when it comes to drinking the correct amount.

         - Drink when you are thirsty

         - Don't drink if you are not thirsty

         - Rely on your thirst unless you discover it is leading you wrong.

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