We use cookies

By continuing to browse ihf.info, you agree to our terms of use , privacy policy and the use of cookies. For more information, please review our cookie policy.

2019 Men’s World Championship 2019 Men’s World Championship
Join the predictin game

Advices for referee fitness



The present document represents a working tool for referees to improve their physical condition before their participation in high-level competitions (8 weeks before), but you can also adapt it perfectly as physical training guide throughout the year (taking into account that there are periods of low activity, such as vacations or injuries).

In recent years, the complexity of the referees´ tasks during a match has been handled in different ways. An important aspect is the referees´ PHYSICAL CONDITION. Of course, every referee can follow his own training plan, aided by experts. The aim of this document is to help those who need it.


There are many reasons, but the main ones include the facts that:

In the sports world, FATIGUE has been studied extensively. It is not the aim of this work to study the physiological aspects, but there is a demonstrable association between fatigue and the sports errors.

In refereeing, the early appearance of fatigue produces a higher number of errors:

  • Being in good physical condition delays the onset of fatigue, thereby avoiding its negative consequences.
  • he referee’s tasks require total concentration on the gameplay and a high reaction rate in order to analyze complex situations, in accordance with the rules and experience, and make the correct split-second decision. Therefore there is a need for integrity of the physiological systems and circuits.
  • Being in good physical condition guarantees the integrity of these physiological systems thereby helping to improve concentration and reaction rate.
  • In some cases, injuries prevent one from taking part in sports or refereeing. In other case, chronic injuries limit optimal performance. There is also a demonstrable association with illnesses that can limit the sports performance.
  • Being in good physical condition is an essential and effective part of staying in good health and preventing injuries.
  • Being in good physical condition, benefits one’s self-confidence, self-image, and psychological health.

Finally, psychological health, self-confidence and self-esteem, is necessary for good performance in top referees.
The data of referees’ physical tests done during the Stage in Bad Urach (Germany) 2007 have been analyzed. The global results are excellent.

The physical profiles of the persons analyzed is as follows:


AGE 35'4
HIGHT 166'8


AGE  34’18
WEIGHT 86’18 kg
HIGHT 181’9 cm


This information may serve as a personal reference for developing actions and training programs to improve and maintain one’s physical fitness and to reach the optimal condition before the championship to which he or she has been assigned.

It is obvious that the physical fitness does not guarantee good refereeing, but it is an essential part, of easing the difficulty of the referee’s tasks. 



It is important to keep one’s the weight stable and correct any deviations. The Body Mass Index (BMI) has proven to be a useful measure in general.

Weight loss should be GRADUAL. It is not advisable to lose weight too quickly, since this will weaken the body.


To prepare the training to train for a big championship and for the successful development of the event, it is essential to follow a diet that is:

  • Variety of foods
  • Well-balanced
  • Regularly administered.
  • Adapted to one’s specific needs.

Spread meals out to 3- 5 times a day.

Proper hydration is also essential to sports performance and to avoiding injuries. The liquid lost playing sports has to be recovered and therefore maintain a balance by observing your personal differences (some people lose more than others).


Many national competitions have already finished and it is possible that you have not done any training for a while.

To prepare, it is advisable to rest for two weeks. These do not have to be two weeks of total rest. You can practice any kind of sport activity: trekking, swimming, golf, tennis, paddle, or other pleasant activities.

If the period of inactivity has been longer, return to training gradually to avoid possible injuries. 


It is fundamental that any slight physical problems endured throughout the season be dealt with to ensure good preparation. Otherwise an injury can becomes chronic and worsen afterward, forcing you to stop or interrupt training and putting your participation at risk.


In studies involving referees have analyzed the type of injuries they suffer. These correspond to body parts that suffer major stress due to the gestures and actions carried out during refereeing.

In special they must look after:

  • Achilles Tendon
  • Patellar Tendon
  • Muscles of the lower extremities ( oIschiotibials - oCalf muscles )
  • Soles
  • Lumbar column

This does not imply that there are not other “critical zones” like the cervical muscles or the shoulders for certain individuals, but generally care for the parts listed ensures an efficient prevention of the most common tedious and muscles injuries.

To this end, one’s training program should include systematic stretching exercises.


Self-care is sufficient in a great number of cases:

  • Periodical medical consultations
  • Preventive and recovering physiotherapeutic treatments

Complementary activities

o Alternative tapering in case of an enthesitis injury/ abuse

o Recreational/alternative maintenance of the physical conditions

? Swimming

? Cycling

? Hikking

? Gymnasium, etc.


In such cases we must individualize to establish the number of sessions required and its intensity, depending on the objectives set up, the final purpose and the seasonal period, as well as the original physical circumstances (the previous existence or not of an injury)


We recommend a 6-8 week training cycle before the start of the competition.
We will split this cycle in two periods:


- 1st -4th week (1st -3rd week if only 6 weeks)
- Goal: Accumulation
- Working plan: 3-4 sessions/week
- Session plan:

- warming up: 5 minutes
- continuous run: about 25-40 minutes
- stretching: 15 minutes
- session duration : 45-60 minutes

o The run pace: will be continuous, depending on the professional level. The
suggested heart rate rank is between 130 – 150 b.p.m, given good prior preparation.
o During the 4 weeks: The duration will be increased 3-5 minutes/week.
o The stretching exercises afterwards are essential: they must be done calmly,
focusing on the most strained muscles.
o Each 5th session, should involve: general physical conditioning and strength work,
either weight training, other natural weights or body training.


  • 5th -8th week (4th -6th week)
  • Goal: Transformation
  • Working plan: 3 sessions/week
  • Session plan:
    • warming up: 5 minutes
    • continuous run: 15 minutes
    • stretching: 10 minutes
    • interval workouts : 15 minutes
    • 45-55 minutes sessions: shorter but more intense, progressive runs are introduced (for example diagonally), 200-300 meters series, and sprints with recovery periods.
    • According to the personal circumstances of each referee: the stretching exercises and the recovery times will vary.
    • Each 3 sessions: do 1 session of recovery with a continuous low intensity run and general conditioning exercises.
    • Take the opportunity to referee: a friendly match prior to the competition. This will be included as a training session.
    • Be especially careful: not to strain tendons and muscles.

The recommendations described here are intended to help you. Many of you have established working plans with good results. Follow them. For those who can improve and adapt their personal characteristics, go ahead.
We wish you the best success in your participation in the next World Championships