As a sports official, one of the key elements you have to account for is the ability to stay flexible and mobile. Reacting to action as it happens is at the heart of what sports officials have to be able to do physically. It’s important to maintain your ability to be exactly where you need to be, exactly when you need to be there.

That’s becoming a much bigger challenge as we find ourselves working from home or not going out as much in the aftermath of COVID-19. Many of us are not as active as we typically were before the pandemic began. You may very well be experiencing an onset of tightness due to excessive sitting, or you may have put on extra weight that you’re struggling to take off now that things have opened back up.

Tightness can affect you anywhere, but the primary zones will be the lower back, hamstrings, quadricep, hip flexors, and calves.

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In order to lessen the possibility of injury when you do return to a normal workout routine, or when it’s time to start working games again, you must focus on mobility.

Why is mobility so important? The last thing a sports official needs is tightness. It significantly limits your capabilities when adjusting to action on the court, field or pitch. It also increases your risk of injury.

For example, an umpire, when standing behind the plate, is flexed at the ankle, knee and hip. They not only need to be able to get into that position, but they also need the strength, stamina and mobility to stay there and move out of it quickly when required. The same can be said for many other sports where a big play, turnover or unforeseen action causes you to have to physically go from standing or jogging to a full on sprint in the other direction.

Mobility is the ability to move actively through a range of motion, while flexibility is the ability of a muscle to lengthen between two joints.

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When it comes to being game ready, you have to be confident that you’ll have the requisite mobility to accomplish the tasks required of your position quickly. Regarding flexibility, the number one litmus test is usually “can I touch my toes”? But it goes beyond that simple test.

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Not being able to run when you need to run, stop exactly when you need to stop and change direction on a dime are also symptoms of decreased mobility and flexibility.

Strength + control + mobility = efficiency

We are used to training to increase strength and many people do agility exercises, but you can exercise for mobility as well. Performing mobility exercises are key because they are extremely effective at helping with patterning and they improving range of motion more efficiently.

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How to make your body more mobile:

  1. Start with an active warm up – hop on a bike, jump rope or jumping jacks
    are great ways to get the core temperature up, get the blood pumping and
    get the joints lubricated so you can actively go through your ranges of
  2. Roll out – foam rolling has proven to be a very effective way of helping
    restore tissue health and increase mobility at a joint.
  3. Dynamic mobility exercises – after you’ve rolled out, you want to stretch
    your muscle while integrating balance, body control and coordination
    through dynamic exercises. As you’re executing the exercises, slow and
    control your breathing. Having controlled breathing maximizes the body’s
    parasympathetic response (helps you relax) which helps limit tension as
    you’re performing the exercise. It oxygenates the tissue as you take bigger
  4. Perform 4-6 movements – research has shown that warming up properly
    minimizes risk of injury and brings performance benefits.

Mobility exercises you can do right now

Check out our mobility playlist that we put together just for our sports officiating colleagues at Referee and NASO! We’ve got three exercises for you to start with and each video will roll one after the other:

-Foam Rolling
-Dynamic mobility sequence
-Passive stretching

View the full sports officials video channel

Get professional mobility training at home

We aren’t letting coronavirus keep us from getting you game ready. Check out the Coach Carlisle Sports Officials Training Programs.

They start this weekend, with Christina Specos teaching a unique Strength & Length session, as well as an interval training class.

Don’t miss out & sign up today.


About the author:

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Duane W.Carlisle, MSc, MSCCA, CSCS
Founder, Carlisle Performance Systems
Founder, Lightning Fast Training Systems, LLC

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