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

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Training must be thought of principally in terms of prevention of injury.

Fact – Lack of fitness is one of the prime causes of injury.

The amount of time spent on training depends on the level at which you Referee, and the state of your physical condition. If you begin pre-season training ten pounds overweight or in a ‘flabby’ condition you will require a longer and more intensive program than a colleague who is already in a reasonably good state of fitness.

WarningThe most dangerous period is the first few weeks of the season.

Reasons for this include:

- Inadequate pre-season training
- Muscles are not as flexible as they should be
- Overweight
- Refereeing before you are fit enough

A player hardly ever injures a Referee and any condition caused by direct contact would be sheer bad luck. You are most likely to suffer muscular injuries involving muscle pulls or ruptures. The muscles most likely to be affected are the muscles of the thigh and lower leg as well as the Achilles tendon.

Fact - Poor abdominal and back strength is a major cause of back injury.

You need to work regularly (at least 3-4 times per week) on developing your abdominal and lower back strength and conditioning, and should include exercises for this purpose whenever you train, or on the floor at home on a non training day.

There are lots of different exercises designed to strengthen the trunk muscles. Here are a few of the more common exercises.

AdviceTry to perform at least 12 repetitions of each exercise. As you become stronger perform up to 25 repetitions and repeat up to 3 times.

Breath freely throughout each repetition.



Lie on your back with your knees bent to 90 degrees and feet flat on the floor (not held).

Slowly curl the shoulders off the ground and then sit up, directing your elbows towards the hips.

Pause at the top position and squeeze the abdominals. Slowly return the shoulders to the floor after each sit-up.

Lie on your back with your knees bent to 90 degrees and feet flat on the floor.

Place your hands behind your head and sit up to touch your right elbow to your left knee and vice versa.

Lying on your front, hands linked behind your back. Raise your trunk off the ground to arch your back whilst keeping your hips on the floor. Hold for the count of 10. Return to the starting position.

Lying face down, raise your left arm and your right leg at the same time. Pause at the top and then lower under control.

Repeat with the opposite side.

Regular stretching and strengthening of your muscles,

Will help prevent those niggling injuries,

That so often detracts from your performance, psychologically and physically.


Follow these simple Training Guidelines to improve your fitness and remain free from injury.

1. Don’t work too hard too soon. Improvements in fitness take time. If you rush your progression you may injure yourself. The primary objective is that you stay injury free, so don’t over-train.

2. Try to vary your training so you alternate hard and easy days.

3. All sessions should start and finish with a warm up/down followed by stretching.

4. Always train within your training zone (i.e. 70% - 90% of maximum heart rate).

5. Do not train if your are ill.

6. If you are injured, try and substitute training for activities such as cycling or swimming to help you maintain your fitness.

7. Invest in decent clothing and footwear. It is important to wear good shoes especially when training on hard surfaces.

8. Don’t jog in fog.

9. If you go jogging in the dark always wear light colored clothing so you can be seen easily. Better still, wear a reflective jacket.

10. Don’t eat, drink caffeine or use tobacco products within 2 hours of a game or a training session.

11. Regularly consume water before, during and after training and matches.

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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