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2010 Referee Week In Review - Mid-season Break


The Referee Week in Review is designed to address the issues facing referees at all levels by using video highlights from professional games as well as the U.S. National Teams. Written by U.S. Soccer Director of Referee Development Paul Tamberino and U.S. Soccer Manager of Assessment and Training Brian Hall, the Referee Week in Review will highlight specific areas of focus and current U.S. Soccer initiatives designed to improve performance and aid in the development of officials across the country.

Week In Review 2010
Midseason Break Week – Ending June 20, 2010
Due to the FIFA World Cup, there were no MLS games on the docket. This gives us the opportunity to examine a few other topics that may be of interest to match officials. In addition to match officials using the two week MLS break for recovery, U.S. Soccer held its midseason training camp for MLS officials in Dallas, Texas. An overview of the midseason topics of discussion and training will be provided.

Week In Review Podcast: For each “Week In Review,” U.S. Soccer produces a related podcast that covers the topics of the week.


Midseason Training Camp for MLS Officials

MLS match officials (referees, assistant referees and fourth officials) met for three days of training. The focus of the three day session included the following topics:

  1. Offside
    A review of offside decisions covered a substantial amount of time. Discussions centered around getting the call right through improved use of positioning and ability to change line of vision and focus between the ball and the second-to-last defender.
  2. Assistant Referee (AR) Involvement
    Through group work and group discussions (involving referees and ARs), multiple clips were examined that involved reckless or excessive force tackles. ARs and referees utilized video clips to discuss the assistance needed from ARs with regard to reckless and excessive force challenges near the ARs “area of control.”
  3. Red Card Tackles
    Video analysis was used as a discussion point for group meetings with the goal of better identifying tackles that meet the excessive force criteria. The main focus centered on the area of contact and mode of contact.
  4. Positioning of Referees and ARs
    On-field sessions were conducted with separate groups of ARs and referees. The field sessions revolved around positioning and ensuring each official has the optimum line of vision for the moment and is able to position himself to best anticipate the next phase of play.
  5. FIFA Fitness Test
    Each referee and AR was required to take and pass the FIFA interval fitness test which consists of:
    • Six-40 meter sprints in a specified time (referees: 6.2 seconds, ARs: 6.0 seconds).
    • 150 meter run followed by a 50 meter recovery (24 times/12 full laps). Referees have 30 seconds to run 150 meters and a 35 walking recovery time. ARs have 30 seconds to run 150 meters and a 40 second recovery.

The Midseason Break: The Referee Perspective

Terry Vaughn – FIFA, MLS and U.S. Soccer Full-Time Referee
The FIFA World Cup break is a great thing. It gives me the time to enjoy the games while not having to travel. The break gives us the opportunity to adjust our schedules and, if we have an injury, this allows us to refocus and refresh while preparing for the push for the playoffs. During this break time, I was fortunate to be a mentor during the Region III youth tournament in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. After that, I will head to the Region II tournament in Dayton, Ohio. Tournaments like this are a great way for me to give back to my fellow referees and to work with referees of all levels with the objective of helping them improve and grow as officials.

Some of Terry’s thoughts:

  • Even though we are on break, we must maintain our fitness level. Fitness must be maintained year around. We cannot train just for a fitness test.
  • Fitness levels should peak as the playoffs approach. Referees need to build a solid base earlier in the year so that we can reach top fitness form at the end of the season when the games take on additional meaning.
  • Always train beyond the minimum standards. This way you have a cushion for the weather. It may be hot, humid, windy, rainy or there may be other factors (outside your control) that may negatively impact your performance of the fitness test.
  • Officials must eat right and hydrate especially in the summer months when the climate is hot and humid. This takes on an added dimension when you are working multiple games in a day which is the norm at tournaments.
  • Use a heart rate monitor to track your heart rate and recovery times. My Polar heart rate monitor allows me to constantly stay on top of my overall fitness levels by targeting specific heart rate levels during training and it allows me to monitor recovery levels.

Terry’s fitness schedule during the break:

  • Saturday: FIFA fitness test
  • Sunday: recovery run
  • Monday: long distance run
  • Tuesday: interval ladders/training
  • Wednesday: long distance run
  • Thursday: FIFA fitness test
  • Friday: recovery day
  • Saturday: long distance run

Baldomero Toledo – FIFA, MLS and U.S. Soccer Full-Time Referee
During the MLS break, I am able to keep my mind “soccer-sharp” by mentoring and attending local referee meetings. I enjoy sharing my knowledge and experience with the referee family. At the same time, maintaining a solid fitness core is vital, so fitness training is always important.

I keep my routine the same during the season as well as during the break. For me, this is the best way for me to get the best results without over-training and injuring myself. The following is a sample of my training routine. The use of my Polar watch to monitor my heart rate really helps me maintain a solid training foundation.

  • Sunday: I start with light running and ten minutes of stretching. This is followed by jogging (50 percent effort). Ten minutes of cool down ends the session.
  • Monday: The intensity level of the workouts increase. Normally, I start with 15 minutes of dynamic stretching (stretching that incorporates movement) with abdominal crunches, hand-to-foot flexibility repetitions and leg squats. These help me to relax mentally. Once my body is warmed up, I do 40 minutes of running at a speed of 50 percent of my fastest pace. Sit ups and push ups conclude the session with stretching.
  • Tuesday: I go to the gym and use the machines to strengthen my legs and do endurance lifting. This takes about 40 minutes.
  • Wednesday: Warm up is similar to Monday. After that, I run 20 repetitions of 150 meters (each repetition is done in 28 seconds). The session ends with ten minutes of jogging and stretching to cool down the legs.
  • Thursday: This is a light training day incorporating ten minutes of stretching with 30 minutes of jogging. After this, I use the field of play to practice positioning. For example, I practice free kick, corner kick and throw-in situations and then practice movements in which I am required to make eye contact with the ARs.
  • Friday: During the season, Friday is a travel day so I use this as a recovery day.

Ricardo Salazar – FIFA, MLS and U.S. Soccer Full-Time Referee
Although MLS is on a break, referees continue to work. Even though we are not walking into stadiums to make critical decisions, we continue to prepare ourselves mentally and physically. We are fans of the game and, as such, are glued to the television watching every pass, shot and tackle during the FIFA World Cup.

During the first weekend away from the field, officials working MLS games met in Dallas for the midseason meeting. This meeting included the FIFA fitness test as well as hours in the classroom. In addition to classroom work, each official got individual feedback relative to their season-to-date performance. Classroom sessions focused reviewing video clips of what we the group of officials have done well and not so well thus far this year. From these discussions, action plans were generated with the focus of improving for the second half of the season.

The fitness test was the most difficult I have taken during my officiating career, because conditions were far from ideal. There were winds that carried us down one side of the track but had to be fought as you ran into them on the other side.

The break also gave me the opportunity to mentor more than 200 referees during the Region IV youth tournament in Albuquerque, New Mexico. That gave me an opportunity to watch the next MLS referees perform and pass on some of my experiences and knowledge. As a product of the youth to amateur to professional refereeing advancement system, mentoring at tournaments like this is a fantastic way to give back to all those that have helped me over the years.

The Midseason Break: The AR Perspective

Kermit Quisenberry – FIFA and MLS Assistant Referee
Taking time for “self” is the main theme, using the downtime to enjoy the FIFA World Cup while spending quality time with family and friends. At the same time, the homework does not stop. I use the break to analyze the games played by the teams I will see in the near future. I prepare a scouting report on the teams as well as on player habits and tendencies. I examine tactics and styles of play and relate those topics to my job as an assistant referee. Not only have I been examining MLS teams and players but while watching the FIFA World Cup I have been putting myself in the shoes of the assistant referee and making decisions as if I were on the field participating in the game. Although it is not the best way, this helps me keep my brain working and sharp.

The following is a sample of how I analyze an upcoming game:

  • The matchup involves two teams with different styles. We have a long passing team versus a short passing team.
  • Set pieces are challenging because the teams will be playing the ball into areas crowded with lots of players. There is also lots of movement requiring the AR to concentrate on offside.
  • Both teams play a flat back four with speed on the wings. Tall middle defenders for Team X. Team Y also has height with their middle defenders.
  • Team X midfield crowds the center of the field with five players.
  • Team Y midfield likes to receive the ball from the outside defenders and immediately play diagonally to the opposite side to an outside midfielder.
  • Team X likes top play with a lone striker who receives the ball and distributes to on-running players. This type of play forces ARs to broaden their view of the field to catch the on-running players. ARs have to broaden their perspective as well to make sure that they can see the runs off the ball. ARs need to be sure not to raise the flag for offside when the player is onside. Patience is a must.
  • Team Y likes to serve the ball diagonally from the opposite wings. This means ARs must pay attention to the long distance ball and use their peripheral vision to track the ball coming from across the field at distance. This type of play requires a good angle of view to take note of all the players involved in the play. Additionally, ARs must be careful to use “wait and see” in the event an onside player runs in to play the ball.

Looking Forward – Week 13
The MLS season restarts this weekend. Players will be rested after teams will have had the break time to reassess and make adjustments. Match officials should go into the first set of games expecting the unexpected.