Major League Soccer
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A matchday with PRO Sports Scientist Matt Hawkey

March 25, 2013

By PRO Sports Scientist Matt Hawkey

At the moment, matchdays for me are more of an opportunity for assessment.

My plan is to get to every stadium during the course of the season and evaluate the environment that our officials are encountering on game day. 

The purpose of this is to assess several variables in terms of pre-match physical, nutritional, and psychological accommodations. For instance, what are the referees’ locker rooms like? How are they welcomed and provided for at each venue? 

Each stadium will have a bit of a different flair to it and with that we need to see what we can do to make sure that the referees are allowed the opportunity to perform at their highest level. If our group is being asked to referee at this level, we need to ensure that their accommodations around the country are up to that standard. 

Post-game, however, is where we start to talk about the practices that the referees need to incorporate - from a nutritional and a physical perspective. For example, there are habits we need to establish in order to promote recovery speeds. In addition, we want to look at the specific game demands indicated and incorporate any other necessary recovery methods. There are a host of performance-influencing factors that need to be considered.  

With regards to performance, the level of play around the world keeps rising and getting faster.  I read a statistic the other day that the distance covered in the EPL is up 20% from what it was in 2001. 

I would imagine that we’re going to see the same thing over here as soccer in North America continues to evolve. With standard of play rising, the quality of refereeing needs to stay ahead of that improvement up as well, and that’s our responsibility at PRO.

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