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Preparing and Training…
Andrew Castiglione
Founder of Ken Aston Referee Society

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2. S T R E T C H I N G



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 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.


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.


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.

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.

(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.

(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, and 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.

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.

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 over-stretch.

Place your left hand on the back of the right shoulder and take the right arm back behind. Keep the hips facing forward and twist the shoulders and head around to the right, stretching the back of the left shoulder, the chest and front of the right shoulder, the trunk and the neck.


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?


- 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.


- 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 center 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 center circle.

This Video from the... Ken Aston Referee Society - Channel


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.

Source of information: 'A Guide to Fitness for Referees' April 2001, produced by the Football Association England. Acknowledgement to the National Coordinator for Fitness Training, Vernon Crew; along with expert advice from John Brewer, Director of the Lilleshall Sports Injury and Human Performance Center; Alan Hodson, Director of the Football Association Medical Education Center; and Rob Hartley, Head of the Sports Science Department, University of Brighton.

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