This time of year is busy for almost all soccer referees in New Mexico. Aside from our personal lives, there is a virtual overload of games to be covered between August into early November. Youth and adult league games, high school and college games demand a lot from the limited referee pool we have available. As if that wasn't enough to worry about we also have a lot of newly certified referees hitting the pitch for their first set of games.
All those factors create a tough environment for us all. What can we do to make sure we're at our best?
This is especially important if you referee more than one league. Make sure you do your best to plan ahead of time so that you can honor your assignments. Communicate conflicts quickly and work to avoid them by setting "blocks" with your assignors beforehand. Remember, you can't perform at the top of your game if you are doing four games a day seven days a week. Balance recovery time and make sure you see your family once in a while!
If you feel an injury coming on get it taken care of. Continuing to work games when you have a minor injury can cause it to get worse. Remain hydrated and eat right to keep your immune system running smoothly. If you have an injury or illness, talk with your doctor and take some time to rest if needed. Taking an assignment when you're injured and not at 100% is a violation of our code of ethics as referees.
This one is important for both our new and returning referees. Make an effort to get feedback from your peers after every match. If you're new, talk with your assignor to see if someone can watch you on a game and mentor you. If you've been doing this a few years its still a good idea to have some mentoring, especially as you start to do higher level games than you have in the past. For example, if you've never done a Varsity game but have one coming up, ask a referee you trust to watch and give you tips.
When you get the opportunity to work with new referees make sure to help them out. Think about how you felt when you were new and what would have helped you. Keep things positive but constructive, too. When you have free time there are a lot of new referees doing youth games across the state that could use some help. Contact the assignor and let them know you are willing to mentor or maybe be an AR for a newer referee.