Referees do you use the tools of our trade?

I have lead many workshops both here and overseas in my refereeing career and continue to do so.

The one thing I have learned is that many referees forget the basic skills of  COMMUNICATION.

If used in a smart and efficient manner it will aid your control, authority and presence on the field of play.

1. The use of the whistle

2 The positive hand/arm signals

3 Verbal communication -is the subject of another presentation

4 Positive body language 


One of the exercises that I carry out in workshops is to get the newly registered referees to take up a position around the centre circle.

Then one at a time I get them to blow their whistle. – I ask them to blow if its a reckless challenge. I ask them to blow the whistle to manage distant free kicks where encroachment is likely to happen

It always amazes me that some people cannot blow a whistle correctly. That they do not alter the tone, strength or length of the blast


The ability to be able to adjust the volume and the length of the blast is essential, it is an important tool in your locker

The practice is essential so that the major “STOP” signal, that loud blast on the whistle that tells everyone that an unacceptable challenge, prevents any escalation on negative behaviour or possible retaliation.

Loud blasts on the whistle when you are gaining ground to get close to a mass confrontation will aid your control and possibly also prevent an escalation. 

The whistle projects your personality, but if overused with the same tone, the same length of signal it becomes less effective and frankly boring.

How many whistles do you carry in your kit bag?


Look in that mirror at home and check that they are clear and that your arm is at the appropriate angle. My suggestion would that you hold your signal for a period of 5-10 seconds, give everyone the opportunity to see the direction and if it is an indirect free kick.


Well, this is a topic on its own and I have a separate presentation that I will share with you going forward.

Enjoy your games

Written by Keith Hackett Email: