The way the referee maintains control of a game is reflected in the moment that he/she shows “flow vs. control” in their management. This provides match control in a flexible and effective way because the referee varies his/her degree of participation in the game. In other words the referee’s performance fluctuates according to the atmosphere of the match and the freedom allowed to the players.
By Jose Borda, Revista Arbitros
Maintaining match control
There are three ten minute periods in every soccer game that require tougher enforcement from the referee. These are the first ten minutes, the five minute periods before and after half time and the last ten minutes of play. These are the times most likely to involve problems and conflicts.
Phases of confrontation
There are phases in which teams are most confrontational requiring the referee to penalize the same fouls, be closer to area of confrontation, warn players in a more visible manner and apply disciplinary measures strictly. Referees must act quickly to settle disputes between players in order to maintain or regain control of the game.
Stages of calm
In contrast, during other phases the referee may "relax" more, as less control is required. At these times it is advisable to apply the advantage more and not be so close to the action and to be less forceful with corrective discipline so as to increase the flow and enjoyment of the game.
Identify phases quickly
Generally, experienced referees know when the “ten critical minutes” has begun. To maintain control referees have to keep focused which allows for maximum concentration, improved fitness and mental sharpness all of which enable them to identify the most problematic phases. They can then find it easier to relax while refereeing the quiet phases of the game.
Divide the game into segments
As a final recommendation, dividing a match into nine ten minute segments will provide the referee with greater control and sense of security. This will also help in assessing the intensity level of the game as well as assist in being able to recall those situations and incidents in the match where what exactly happened may not have been clear.