There are some games where the clock doesn’t stop when it should. Officiating means realizing that some games will go into overtime. Referees don’t get paid overtime and often are tired, dehydrated and hurting by the end of a long game; but they still need to stay “on” the entire time. It can be hard to remain alert and focused when you’re running on empty, but it’s important to stay sharp for yourself and everyone else in the game. Here are tips to keep your brain going when you want to stop.

Train Hard

If you’re still early in your referee career, train a little harder than you think you need to, regardless of your sport. If you’re training hard enough that game days feel like a break, you’re probably in pretty good shape. If you’re further in your career, think about your training strategy and what your limits are. Officiating in overtime won’t be fun, but as long as you improve your body and brain through exercise, you’ll be in good shape for years to come.

Keep Yourself Healthy

Staying fit is key to fighting off fatigue and preparing for long games. In addition to cardio, weights and exercises such as yoga, other lifestyle changes are good for your body and mind. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, fatigue and decreased concentration. Eat balanced, nutritious meals with plenty of whole grains and complex carbohydrates; and consider eating smaller meals more frequently to keep your blood sugar stable. Go to bed on time to get enough sleep, and take a short nap followed by a cup of coffee if you need an energy boost. Omega-3 oils are good for your heart and may boost your alertness and mental reaction times, so consider adding a supplement to your diet. Losing some extra weight also can improve your health and stamina to keep you physically and mentally in the game longer.

Don’t Look Tired

If players and coaches sense you’re tired, they’ll start to doubt your abilities as a referee. Yes, you will be tired, but do your best not to let it show. This means no cheating on calls, losing your focus or letting fatigue affect your presence on the field. Overtime is stressful for officials, and you’re more likely to make mistakes, but keep up appearances even when the situation is bad. Build rapport with your crew and the teams, and look neat and professional – so you look engaged instead of fatigued.

Find What Works for You

When fatigue sets in, you can’t rely on your officiating instincts alone. It’s important to stay ready and alert during a long game – to give it the attention it needs. Take some time to understand how you react to fatigue; work on a plan to help you get through it once you notice yourself slipping. For example, if you know your mind wanders, consider talking to yourself more. Focusing on giving yourself small instructions throughout the game helps keep you from acting on instinct, and keeps you engaged and alert. Maybe there’s something you could do in your pregame routine or in a break that gives you a slight boost. Find what works for you, and keep it handy in case the clock runs over.

Keep Your Eyes on the Game With ArbiterSports

Officiating requires a lot of focus on and off the field, and ArbiterSports can help. ArbiterSports offers tools and services for referees looking to boost their career performances. We offer training tools to help keep your mechanics and rules knowledge sharp, and organizational tools to keep track of important game information. Whether you need referee training, refresher courses or just a little extra help with paperwork, we have something that can help you succeed. For more information on what ArbiterSports can do for you, call 800.576.2799 or email