Referee Taylor working hard to keep up fitness

30 Mar 2020
Anthony Taylor trains with his dog

Match official reveals how he is staying fit with the help of his dog, Monty, while football is suspended during the coronavirus pandemic

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For Premier League referee Anthony Taylor the lack of football because of the coronavirus pandemic has not stopped him from training hard to stay in the best possible shape.

While the current Government restrictions continue, he is doing his utmost to remain positive and match-fit for when football does return.

"I cannot wait to get back in the middle, but there are more important things right now and we must wait until it is safe for everyone involved," says Taylor.

So what exactly can a Premier League referee do to stay fit, despite having no matches to officiate, during a time when residents in the United Kingdom are restricted to leaving their homes for one form of exercise a day or essential work or shopping?

Homework comes first

Firstly, Taylor has his teenage daughters to look after. With his wife having to go to work in the prison service, he makes sure homework is being done.

As a former prison officer himself, Taylor ensures his daughters are not under the misapprehension the summer holidays have started early.

"They really love me," he says.

Run, run, repeat

Like the other match officials Taylor is sent a weekly home-based training schedule by the sports science team at Professional Game Match Officials Limited [PGMOL].

One of the drills involves running four lengths of a football pitch continuously.

"You have to sprint half the length of a football field and jog the other half," he explains.

"Then you sprint 80 yards and jog 20, then sprint 95 yards, and jog five. Then you finish by sprinting the full 100 yards. After two minutes of rest you go again. Three more times."

Replicating matches

But Taylor, who covers an average distance of 11.8km per Premier League match, reveals: "That’s not even the hard one.

"You want to try some of the match replication sessions. They last an hour and 10 minutes.

"You do 12 sprints, then you run two kilometres in eight minutes and then you repeat that four times. This gives you the similar demands you would get in a game."

Help of his pet

Training is helped by having his dog, a cockapoo called Monty, alongside him so there is no excuse for slacking off. 

"Every training session the heart-rate is monitored," says the 41-year-old, who has been refereeing for 26 years and in 2013 was promoted to the FIFA list.

He has to wear a GPS unit and all the data is collected by Simon Breivik, Head of Fitness and Medicine at PGMOL. Each day Taylor and the other match officials submit other data around their general wellbeing, including how their muscles are feeling, whether they are carrying a bit of a niggle or if they feel tired.

"Everything is fed into the sport science team and they advise and direct as they see fit," explains Taylor.

"It's very rare that you see any of our guys get injured at all now, so you can't underestimate the importance of the fitness side, particularly when at least half the group are over 40."

Good to talk

Taylor regularly keeps in contact with his team of assistant referees, and every week there are also online technical meetings.

"The refs are a really close-knit group so most us are in touch on individual WhatsApp groups," he says. "But we also have a weekly video conference call with our coaching team and the referees. 

"We're sharing as a group and talking about what we'd do in certain situations. It's designed to replicate what we would do at training camp at St George's Park or Loughborough."

See: Taylor looking to lend the NHS a hand

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