I am a firm believer that if you are not moving forward, you are falling behind. The world is changing and if you aren't changing too, you will quickly become irrelevant.
For me, I want to grow as a referee. After 8 years, I've learned a ton, but there is still so much more to improve upon mentally and physically. I also want to start planning for referee life after my legs and body give out. I want to stay connected to the game even after my son stops playing and I can't run on a field for 6 hours a day like I used to.
First, I really want to get better at my positioning on the pitch. Far too often, I find myself getting sucked into the play when it gets close to the Penalty Area. I wind up almost getting hit and worrying about moving out of the way rather than focusing on the action. I am going to work harder keeping to the left of the ball (the diagonal) and moving quickly through the center circle.
Secondly, my arm mechanics can be improved. When I started, I signaled direct kick fouls at a 45 degree angle. Nobody corrected me. I did it for 7 years until I did it on one of my TikTok's and someone corrected me. It should be much closer to 90 degrees almost parallel to the ground. That is done so that it isn't easily confused with an Indirect free kick.
I've gotten feedback my whistles can be improved. I need to vary the intensity for minor fouls and subs and really accentuate serious fouls.
The biggest challenge for me this year will be my fitness and speed. Although, I'm not sure if getting Regional certification is even worth the effort and expense, I still want to try and pass the FIFA Referee fitness test. In March, I tore my hamstring on my 3rd 40 meter sprint. I have never been particularly fast, so this is no easy task. I didn't do a proper warm-up and I certainly didn't train specifically for the test. I won't make that same mistake this time. I'll be ready.
In addition to passing the FIFA Fitness Test, I also want to get NISOA certified to become a ref for college matches. Not only can it be higher level competition, but it pays much better than Grassroots or High School matches. I have all of the basic qualifications, I think I just need a referral.
Lastly, I want to continue being a positive soccer referee ambassador be it on my TikTok, Blog, Podcast or on the pitch. I want more people pick up a whistle. Not only would it address the extreme shortage of qualified officials here in the US and around the world, but it would improve how people view the game and decrease the toxic culture towards officials on and off the the pitch.