Days that involve physical training in the gym are normally followed by a session of mental preparation. In the gym, we do cardio, weight training, and balancing (for injury prevention) exercises. This has also helped with teamwork and cooperation as we are sharing a small number of machines. These workout sessions can be quite a fun experience as many of the women can be quite comical. We will remember the fun times as much as the new exercises.
The mental preparation revolves around learning techniques for relaxation and visualization. There is a high degree of pressure on referees to perform on the matches. We also know that clips are selected from all the matches to be shown to our peers during debriefings and the actions and decisions are used for development purposes. Therefore, learning mental relaxationtechniques and ways to cope with mistakes on and off the field is very useful, as we know that learning to cope with mistakes and on and off the field is a vital tool to becoming a better referee. Initially, this type of mental preparation was a bit unexpected, but at the same time, we see the value in the training as how we deal with internal struggles positively can improve our performance. We feel very fortunate to have a well-rounded training program to help us improve in mind and in body.
Our outdoor physical training varies from day-to-day. Each session begins with dynamic stretching and movements and is followed by the physical training portion, and then followed by practical sessions. In one of our assistant referee oriented sessions, the physical training portion involved sprints from mid-field to the eighteen yard box, jogging to the goal line, side stepping back to the eighteen and sprinting back to midfield. This was followed by a walk across the field and a repetition on the other side of the field. Sprints on both sides of the field constituted one lap. We did 5 laps, rested for 3-4 minutes, and did 5 more. Wow! This was tough considering how hot and humid the weather was. This session was video taped and our fitness instructor took turns running the sprints with different pairs of people to encourage us to run even faster. Being competitive people, this definitely worked to push us. The cool thing was that we were able to run this as a pair because there were times each of us needed to talk the other through the workout to get the right pacing.
The practical sessions have been a really good way to improve the team work with referees and ARs. They have also been good at replicating situations on the field to improve the concentration and decision making of the referee team. We are really grateful that they have focused so much on the decisions made by the assistant referees which give us instant feedback that we cannot get any other way. We have been very pleased with these sessions, as we feel that these training tools are helping us to meet the expectations of a FIFA tournament. We hope to implement these drills at home so that others can also get the benefits of our training.
Finally, we have debriefings in combined group session with all the men and women officials after every game. These sessions can be a bit nerve-wracking as everyone is hoping that they are not shown doing something wrong. It has been inspiring though to see some of the more senior officials volunteering situations in their games that may not have gone the way they hoped so that everyone can learn from them. Theyʼre courage and maturity have shown us some real leadership and given us a great example of behavior at a FIFA tournament.
Veronica & Marlene