Do you REALLY know what you’re doing?

On Tuesday evening I went to watch a young referee to offer him some advice about how to become a brilliant referee; on Sunday I shall be coaching at the Academy in the hope of creating excellent young referees who will continue up the ladder and reach the highest echelons of the game.

Both coaching sessions share one thing in common – the officials want to be at the next level up. In my opinion this desire to be at the next level up creates the mass of level 4s, some who either quit too early or some who sit at this level for years longer than they would have done if only they’d learnt their trade at the lower levels.

The referee on Tuesday evening said that because the game ended 11-0 it was a game with very few learning points in it. REALLY?

One of the referees on Sunday has said he prefers refereeing the older age groups. REALLY?

Our referee on Tuesday had a million and one learning points to understand from the 11-0 however I stopped on 3 because any more than 3 would be confusing.

The referee on Sunday is saying “give me games that stretch my control” rather than “give me games which allow me to totally understand and practice the correct positioning and signals in an environment which is skilful but most importantly safe”.

If you want to be successful at refereeing and I’m talking really successful at refereeing, not just one of the masses of level 4s which are the backbone of the referees, it is my opinion that you have to totally understand the game and your part in it.

It means raising your standards to such a level that the observer says “nothing happened because of the referee’s superior knowledge”.

It means raising your standards to such a level that the clubs say “they feel that confident in what the referee is doing that they will not try anything untoward”.

It means raising your standards so that every decision is just accepted because you showed the correct level of intensity; you showed empathy for the match and you showed a superior knowledge of football and footballers.

That comes from knowing your game and that is achieved by understanding what you did and the outcome you got from what you did.

It means knowing where to be to give great decisions, it means knowing how to signal perfectly for simple things like throw-ins, goal kicks and corner kicks.

It means knowing how to project yourself so that everyone else knows you’re the person who is in charge.

When I passed my exam many years ago I was told by my examiner to remember that 22 people could have a football match without a referee, I subsequently added (years later) that they couldn’t have a good game without us!

Make your next game the start of really understanding what your actions do for the game.

I may not have been the best referee on the planet but I did every game properly and I implore you to!


You have to, because for some of the players it could be their most important game ever.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.