Essentials Every Referee Needs

Posted on: April 18th, 2019 | by Laura Murdoch | No Comments

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Like Easter without chocolate eggs, what is football without a referee? Though we might not always agree with them, referees play a vital role in the game at all levels. They are the person who enforces the Laws of the Game. They are the final authority when it comes all decision making connected to play. It is a role that can be incredibly fulfilling and fun. Especially if you like to view the referee as being the sheriff of the football pitch. They are the person who keeps control and ensures the game runs as smoothly as possible. Let’s face it, that’s a pretty important responsibility. So, what are the essentials that every referee needs to be able to deal with the tough role?


The DNA of English Refereeing

All levels of English refereeing follow the same set of values that are shared by everyone involved. Every referee is expected to adhere to these standards throughout their professional career. As defined by the FA, these values are as follows:

RESPECT – whether this is respect for the game, the Laws of the Game, the people involved, or the rules and regulations, a referee must always be respectful.
EMPATHY – the best referee is not the ones who can turn off their emotions but the one who understands the needs of the match.
FITNESS – a referee needs to be able to keep up with the match, so physical fitness is an absolute must. Don’t forget, the most controversial moments tend to happen in the final minutes. You need to be ready for anything at any time.
EVALUATION – It is important to be able to evaluate specific in-match incidents as well as the general feeling of a game. The best referees will adjust their approach depending on the needs of a particular game.
RELIABILITY – The referee needs to be a dependable presence both on and off the field. They need to take control when major incidents (like serious injuries) occur and when sticking to the rules. Off the field, they need to continue this level of professionalism.
EDUCATION  – There is always room to develop and the best referees are the ones who are always willing to learn. In order to be the best, you need to be ready to grow and take advice from others.
EXCELLENCE – Above all else, the basic value of English refereeing is the desire to achieve excellence.

You can find out more about the FA’s DNA of English Refereeing here.



So, you think you’ve got some of the DNA of English refereeing inside you, now what? Just who can become a football referee? More and more people of all ages, genders, races, and abilities are getting into refereeing and it couldn’t be easier for you to get involved. All you need to do is take part in a Basic Referees Course with you local County Football Association.

The courses are available to anyone over the age of 14 and will provide an introduction to officiating football. You will be given a knowledge of The Laws of Association Football and their application. This will be given through theory and practical elements, which will leave you with the basic skills required to act as a match official at grassroots level.

To find out more about the course check out the FA’s course details or contact you local County Football Association.


Stay in Control

Even though it’s an important role, it’s not always easy being a referee. We’ve all seen football players getting a little overzealous in the wake of a decision they disagree with. How do you think you would cope with a group of annoyed men bearing down on you? According to referee Andy Ryan, this is just “business as usual for a referee.” Speaking to the Guardian in 2015, Ryan admits that it’s difficult to cope but you just have to push yourself.

While experience does build composure, I’m not sure it’s possible to ever be completely calm in the face of a shouting crowd. “Fight or flight” is too in-built to permit that. So instead you have to teach yourself to ignore the surge of adrenaline and focus on the next decision.

When you’re refereeing a game, it’s important that you keep going no matter what happens. In order to keep control, you need to be able to face-up to opposition and stand your ground. When situations arise, you have to be able to step up and make yourself seen and heard. On that pitch you’re in charge.

Referee blowing whistle

Trust Your Decisions

As a referee, every decision you make has a major impact on the game and the players. You have to be ready for the opposition to question every call. With so many people telling you that you’re wrong it can be easy to shy away. You need to trust your decision and ignore the doubt that creeps in. As referee Andy Ryan puts it:

The great referees have a bulletproof sense of certainty that doesn’t allow them (at least during the game) to consider that they might be wrong… The split-second decision-making is the hardest skill. If you’ve started thinking, you’re already too late.

In order to be the best referee, you need to be able to react as soon as you spot something. In his keynote address at the Ontario Soccer Summit, ex-Premier League referee, Howard Webb, put an emphasis on self-belief saying, “the games I’ve lost control of in my life, are the games I lost self-belief”. Refereeing is a tough job and having enough self-confidence is vital. You might not always get it right but the best thing you can do is keep making decisions.


Take a Step Back

It’s important to be able to understand when you need to step in and when you don’t. Your job may be to keep control but, ultimately, you have to respect the game. A good referee will know when they need to make a move and when they can just let players play.

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The Right Kit

The final step in becoming the best referee you can be? Looking the part. Every good referee will be prepared for every match to ensure they are ready for anything. As standard, every referee must go into their game with a number of essential pieces of kit:


  • Whistle – at least one but we’d say it’s always worth having a spare
  • Watch – you’re going to need at least one watch to keep track of time
  • Red and yellow cards – what kind of referee is going to leave home without them?
  • Notebook and pencils – so you’ve got a way of keeping a record of the match

Of course, at certain levels the equipment available to you might get a little bit more exciting.


  • Equipment for communicating with other match officials –buzzers, beep flags, headset etc.
  • EPTS or other fitness monitoring equipment

But it doesn’t matter what kind of football you’re officiating, if you aren’t prepared then you can’t do your job.

At Pendle, we have our own range of referee equipment that will provide you with the basics you need. We’ll have you looking your best and ready to make those tough decisions. With our help, you’ll always have pencil to hand and your cards will never be far out of reach. Why put more worry into making the tough decisions? Check out our quality range that all comes at amazing prices.

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