Fitness Training

A reasonable degree of physical fitness is required to referee football matches.

Information on physical fitness in this section has been provided by ‘Tunde Adebayo, the Football Association Fitness Co-ordinator for the London Football Association, and by his predecessor, David Dixon. 

  • CLICK HERE for information about Physical Fitness Tests undertaken by referees
  • CLICK HERE for advice about Fluid Intake 
  • CLICK HERE for advice about Warming Up prior to officiating 
  • CLICK HERE for advice about treatment of injuries sustained by referees

Further advice can be obtained by e-mailing or by phoning on 07956 833321

Fitness can be described as the capacity or ability to perform a task or activity. An individual’s level of fitness can be measured in different ways, but it will generally take in to consideration a number of factors, including strength, speed, endurance and agility.

Whilst each factor is important, the degree of importance varies depending on the activity. A wrestler and a gymnast, for example, have different needs and, to be effective, their training regimes should take the demands and challenges of their particular activity in to consideration.

As football referees, it is essential that our fitness training is tailored specifically towards our movements on the field of play. At a recent in-service training evening, referees indicated that they trained in a variety of ways, including using a gym for cardiovascular and weight training, swimming, running/jogging, cycling and participating in other sports.

Whilst these training activities are beneficial in various ways, it should be noted that engaging in a suitable combination tailored to one’s objectives will yield more effective results than just restricting oneself to a single activity.

The FA fitness tests for officials from Level 1 to Level 4 measure endurance and speed off the mark: all training programmes should therefore aim to achieve improvements in these abilities as well as other areas such as strength, core stability, flexibility, agility, recovery, injury prevention and skill.

Referees must recognise the specific challenges that are faced in officiating and must build in referee-specific activity in their training. Typically, during a match, a referee will engage in a combination of jogging, sprinting from a standing start, running forwards, sideways and backwards, turning, stopping and so on. These must form part of the exercise regime.

Referees will definitely benefit greatly from joining or forming groups that train regularly together. Improved fitness, increased motivation, camaraderie, relevant and effective training, networking, stress relief and management are just a few of such benefits. Doing nothing is not an option. Everyone is welcome to join one or more of the following groups.   
One group meets at the HSBC ground in Lennard Road, Beckenham every Wednesday night between 7.30 pm and 8.30 pm. The organiser is Kent FA referee Martin Bishop but many London FA officials attend: the sessions are based on programmes devised by Matt Weston, who works with the FA Premier League and Coca Cola Football League match officials. If more information is required, please contact Ian Bentley at or 020 8777 3422.
Secondly, Mike Barnes trains at Lee Valley Athletics Centre (the re-developed Picketts Lock Sports Centre), Edmonton and would welcome the opportunity of turning this into a regular group training location. Anyone interested in forming such a group should contact Mike at or on 020 7502 1564.
Thirdly, a group meets at Regent’s Park at 11am on Sundays during the summer and at 7pm on Thursdays during the football season. For more information, please contact Dan Burke at or on 07725 721091 or Alun Davies at or on 07779 616006.
Another group also meets every Tuesday evening at 7 pm at Old Salesians FC, Salesian College Playing Fields, Old School Lane, Ewell West, Surrey KT17 1TJ: please contact Peter Georgiou at or on 07979 506463 for further details.