Referees like any player need to be aware of everything that is happening involving three essentials in the game; the ball, the players and the field of play. However, at times when attention is focused on one of these, the referee does not see what is happening with the other two. For this reason, referees need to achieve a superior level and ability in their peripheral vision so as to avoid mistakes.
By Antonio Pulido, Revista Arbitros
How's your peripheral vision?
Factors to consider
Visual acuity is not the only factor in assessing this capability for a referee. There are other important ones which enable the referee to have a broader view in the game environment.
These are, first, "saccades", (rapid eye movements) which occur as they move and see different objects in the field of vision, and second, "peripheral vision".
What is peripheral vision?
For the referee, this involves the ability to see within and beyond the immediate field of vision in order to anticipate, view, analyze and resolve spatial movement and behavior of players on and off the ball and to provide as required, from knowledge and experience, a technical and disciplinary response.
More broadly, this includes the perception of stimuli by the eyes of the surrounding areas, away from one’s main view. This means, the greater the referee’s peripheral vision, the better a referee’s overall view will be which is necessary to control the match environment.
Respond with your vision
The competent referee should have the ability to assess the space around him/her and be able to locate all the important elements within it In soccer, this requires not only being able to stay near the ball but to simultaneously observe other players and their location on the field and perceive what they are doing, what they did and what they may do so as to be more effective in making decisions and calls.
Visual training involving measuring the quality of responses to peripheral stimuli can be utilized as a means to improvement.
Train yourself now
To enhance your peripheral vision through training, you can try this. Look at a spot on a wall at a 45 degree angle. Extend your arms and spread your hands until you can barely see them. Flip a keychain, a set of keys or a small ball or other object in the air and try to catch it. As you practice and progress, flip the item higher. If at first you drop it, then you are at a lower level of eye/brain perception and response because you are not identifying moving objects outside your range of peripheral vision.
As you continue and begin catching the item you are progressing in training and developing your peripheral vision.