I get lots of great questions emailed to me. This one really made me think. I was asked what I do pre-match to get ready for the game.
I couldn't believe that I actually came up 22 different things that I try and do every single match I have. If I can do all of these things, I feel it puts me in the best position to have success during the match.
#22 Confirm my games
I always try to check what time my games are and what fields they are on the night before. I know that sounds crazy, but schedules change. Fields Change. Games get cancelled. Essentially anything can happen and if you don't check the night before you could find your self scrambling the next day. Admittedly, my memory is also not the best. I may have thought the game time was 10 AM, but it is actually 8:30 AM. Good to know that the night before.
I'm typing this with my water bottle sitting next to me. :-> Hydration is critical. It affects me mentally and physically. You can't give your best on the pitch if your mouth is dry and your muscles are tight or you have a dehydration headache. I start my hydration the night before. 24 hours in advance is ideal.
#20 Carb load
I try to eat foods that will power me up the next day and not weigh me down. I try to avoid fried or fatty foods that will upset my stomach. I know my body will need to draw upon healthy carbs to keep me moving on the picth for 10+ miles a day.
#19 Set an alarm
I try not to leave too many things to chance. I've had too many experiences where my dogs decide the one day they are going to sleep in is the one day that I need to be at the fields extra early. I want to give my self plenty of time in the morning to do everything I need to leave and not feel rushed.
#18 Get a good nights sleep
A good nights sleep to me is 7+ hours. Some people can live with 6. My wife needs a minimum of 8. I personally have a hard time functioning if I don't sleep well the night before. Again, it's both the physical and mental side that benefits from a good deep sleep.
#17 Plan my morning, so I know when to wake up and leave
When I check my schedule, I also try and plan out exactly how much time I will need to do everything needed before heading out to the field. I try and add an extra 20 minutes just in case.
#16 Eat a healthy breakfast
I love me some eggs, sausage and potatoes on the weekends. My wife also makes some mean banana chocolate chip pancakes. But when I'm reffing, it is going to be oatmeal or another healthy cereal and some fresh fruit. Generally I am a banana, blueberry or strawberry man. It fills me up and gives me energy for later in the day.
#15 Hydrate... again
I usually drink a massive carafe of coffee every day of the week, but on the weekends, I like 1 small mug of joe and then I go immediately to my water jug. I add Liquid IV and begin drinking. I try to drink about 20 - 30 ounces before my first match on the way to the field. I then have another 64 ounce jug for my two matches and I usually drink every ounce and then some.
#14 Use the bathroom especially number two
I know this may be TMI, but I don't care. I have showed up to too many fields where the bathrooms were locked, no toilet paper or the porta-potties were disgusting from the night before. I always bring a pack of tissues with me, but heading to the woods isn't convenient or a good first impression ;->. I want to do my business at home. If it means I need to wake up 20 extra minutes early, so be it.
#13 Show up at the field 30 - 45 mins in advance for grassroots matches.
That means on the field. Not the parking lot. You want to make a bad impression to your fellow refs, stroll up to the field 5 minutes before kick-off. It's infuriating. If we are down a ref, we need to start thinking about how we will cover the match, getting a club linesman, etc. We won't have time for a pre-game conversation or go over any rules of the competition. Lastly, it simply looks unprofessional.
#12 Look up the teams and see how they've performed this year
I don't do this every time, but I try to do it for my High School and Adult Amateur matches. It's good to know if people have had a rough year or have blown everyone out. It just helps to paint a picture of what you might expect or who the top scorers may be.
#11 Engage with the coaches.
Start to build report as soon as you get to the field. I want to be approachable yet professional. The last thing I want is for my first conversation with a coach to be a heated and emotion filled moment during the match.