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Question Number: 16041

Fitness 7/15/2007

RE: AYSO Under 13

Aaron of Chicago, Illinois USA asks...

I've looked at some of the fitness tests for various organizations and some of them require that ARs perform at a higher level physically than Referees. When I Ref, it seems like the Referees get a lot more activity than the ARs, not the other way around like the tests suggest.

So which requires more fitness, the Referee or an AR?

Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

Very strange. I AR occasionally and, yes, I have to sprint a lot but I get much more activity as a center. As a center, you simply run a LOT more total yardage and I end up sprinting a lot as a center also.

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Answer provided by Referee Chuck Fleischer

Arron the thing about being a linesman which differs from the lot of a referee is positioning. The referee has to keep himself 15-20 yards from the action, he can start and stop his runs in anticipation of where he thinks play will run. A linesman, on the other hand, has two places he must be, one is the last but one player the other is the ball, whichever is closer to the goal line.

Therein lies the rub, he must match the speed of the ball or the fastest defender whether going in or out. That means he MUST be fit enough to run 20-40 yard wind sprints for 90 minutes, taking a 15 minute break in the middle. Those wind sprints are specialized, too, because he only gets to pump one arm and he is looking 90 degrees to one side or the other. This ain't an easy task!! That's just the sprints, there is the little thing of staying with a slower moving situation, there you are expected to side step, facing the field!! The hardest match a linesman will ever have is a slow moving one, he doesn't have the luxury of shaking out the kinks in a sprint, the whole time is side step.

Another little thing about the differences in the two positions on the field is changing directions. The referee is fully able to make large radius turns and keep up his energy in the turn, this effectively is much easier to do than the linesman. He must come to a complete stop, alter his direction 180 degrees and start again from zero speed. It takes energy to stop and energy to start again, huge difference.

Now to the looking at your assistants and seeing them not moving around as much as you. They probably aren't! Your assistants are not professional, they do not, repeat do not, stay exactly at the last but one player or the ball, whichever, they stand and watch. Very few assistants perform at the top of what is expected of them until they want to advance beyond grade 07. It is only then do they have to please an assessor. That's when they find out it's a lot harder to function correctly when assisting than it is as the referee.


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Answer provided by Referee Ben Mueller

Ref Fleischer makes a good point when he states that most AR's we see (grade 8's) are not doing their job up to standard. The AR's in our youth matches (not all but most) are not staying exactly even with ball or 2nd last defender, but tend to cheat a little bit. The average grade 8 AR also does not side step properly and does not sprint with enough speed to get to that perfect position. In national and international matches it is a lot different. In these matches, being an AR is very difficult. Have you ever done a match where a team is playing the offside trap? That is 90 minutes of good hard sprinting up and down the field. In this case, I will argue that the AR has an equally challenging job as the referee. In a good international match, the AR is constantly moving up and down the field. Also, Ref Fleischer makes a great point about the constant stopping and turning - which causes the AR to need to accelerate very quickly.

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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

There isn't a yes/no answer to your question, sorry.

AR's have a very difficult job - it's much harder to do an exceptional job as an AR than as a referee. As Chuck and others noted, the pattern of effort is entirely different, with the referee staying in a jog, a run or a sprint, but the AR generally is either standing or sprinting - the best ones learn to side step. Keeping focus as an AR takes practice and dedication.

Having said that, as an assignor I will tell you I might put a less than totally fit referee in the middle of a game if s/he has the experience, management and knowledge to do a great job, and use my really fast up and coming referees as the ARs to try and get the best fit of what is available to cover the game in a way best for the players and the game.

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