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Gaining the Edge: Supporting the Body and Mind to Perform

Many of us enjoy training and playing sport, and whether it is top-level competition or 5-a-side with your friends, we all want to improve and come away feeling like we have done well. We also want to keep playing for as long as possible before our ageing bodies begin to fail us!

My Game

My “game” is refereeing in football. I started officiating kids’ matches when I was 17, just for some pocket money. I soon moved through the age groups, to refereeing adults and then onto more professional competitions.

In the early years, fitness came easy. I trained without thinking about it and could do as many games as I wanted. In my first year of refereeing, I did over 100 matches and naturally, as a teenager, my body still felt brand new!

Having refereed juveniles, amateurs, and semi-professionals, I became a Specialist Assistant Referee and in 2018 I made my debut in the SPFL Premiership. In 2020 I was nominated for the FIFA international list of match officials, alongside 9 other Assistant Referees in Scotland, and began officiating matches in European and international competitions.

Staying at my best

Fast forward 17 years since I started and at 34, feeling fit and ready to perform doesn’t come as easy. In recent years, I realised I would need to adapt and be more conscious of my training, preparation, and recovery if I want to continue for many more years. I began to analyse where I could make improvements to my routine to give me that extra 1% and to enable me to perform optimally in every match.

Aside from the aspects we call consider – diet, sleep, exercise, I discovered something I had never considered: REFLEXOLOGY.

By chance, I got talking to Shona at ABWR at a market and purchased a reflexology voucher for my mum. It was only when I got home and read all about the therapy that I wondered if it would be good for me too. I booked in for a treatment and loved it. It soon became part of my routine to maintain my performance, and the benefits are endless for me.

Among the general niggles that come with regular training and sport, I occasionally suffered discomfort in my feet, presumably from the regular pounding on treadmills, grass and astroturf. By its very nature, reflexology really helped me. It also helps remove lactic acid which has built up after matches or training.

Over the years I have become more aware of the psychological pressures that come in sport. There is pressure to perform from players, clubs, the media, and from myself. I know how important it is to be in a good headspace, if we are to perform well. My regular hour of reflexology allows me to de-stress and totally reset, clearing my head to be ready to go again.

In my experience, along with reflexology, I recommend prioritising sleep and hydration, as well as eating a nutritious diet, to help the body recover, and help you perform at your best, every time. Stress can have such negative effects mentally and physically, so find what works for you to reduce yours.

Become a Referee

Refereeing in football has brought me so many fantastic experiences, and I recommend it to any football fan who wants to be involved in the game. It can also help you to keep fit, meet people and earn extra income. If that sounds of interest to you or someone you know, you can complete the course online or in person, and get a front-row seat at the beautiful game! Click here to find out more and sign up.

Members of the Aberdeen & District Referees Association get 10% off reflexology at ABWR with the code REF10.

Calum Spence, is one of Scotland's top assistant referees, having started out officiating in juvenile matches to now being a match official in the Scottish Premiership & European Competitions

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