NISOA Summer Physical Training Initiative

Published on June 1, 2020


With many areas of the country restricted due to COVID-19, NISOA is proud to provide fitness workouts for its membership. This 10-week program is designed specifically for the physical demands of refereeing, while following the social distancing recommendations. The goal of this program is to provide membership the support needed to ensure fitness levels are at their peak for the start of the 2020 Fall season.

Three workouts per week will be released each Monday on this web page. These workouts can be completed throughout the week, although it is recommended to have a rest day in between workouts in order to maximize recovery time.

Starting next week, NISOA will release a live workout schedule, focusing on a 20 minute circuit style workout, where members can work out together.

We highly recommend you take advantage of these fitness opportunities in order to be physically ready for the upcoming season. Special thank you to Trent Van Haitsma for putting this program together.

Workout schedule

Week of June 1 (Week 1)

Session #1
“Last 25 Minutes”
Complete as many rounds as possible in 25 minutes:

  • 300 meter sprint
  • 100 meter jog/walk recovery

Your rest is the 100-meter jog. Don’t go all out on the first one. Try to be consistent and hold these within 3-5 seconds of each other.

Session #2
“Long, Longer, Longest Ball”
Two sets of:

  • 200 meter run with 90 seconds rest
  • 600 meter run with 90 seconds rest
  • 1000 meter run with 90 seconds rest

Try to hold your 1-mile pace for each interval. If you run an 8-minute mile than each interval should be around 1/3/5 minutes for the running portion. Walk, jog, stand, stretch during 90s rest.

Session #3
“Pinball Soccer”
Every minute on the minute for 10 minutes:

  • Sprint for 30 seconds
  • Rest 30 seconds

Rest 2 minutes followed by…
Every two minutes for 10:00

  • Sprint 45 seconds
  • Rest 1:15

You can download this workout here.

Week of June 8 (Week 2)

Session #1
“Hot Start”
Two Sets of:

  • 1200 meter run
  • Rest 90 seconds
  • 800 meter run
  • Rest 5 minutes

Goal here to go a little faster than your 2 mile Pace. Shoot for about 5 seconds faster per lap (400m).

Session #2
“Super Subs”
Six sets of:

  • Run 400 meters
  • Rest 2-3 minutes

Goal here is to keep these within 3 – 5 seconds, if your pace drops then the workout is finished.

Session #3
“End of Half Sprints”
Two sets of:

  • 1.5 mile run
  • Rest 1 minute
  • 400 meter sprint
  • Rest 4 minutes

Goal here is to run your 1.5mile like a 5k pace, rest the minute to catch your breath and then sprint 400m as fast as you can like the players at the end of a crazy game. Rest and repeat for the “2nd half”.

You can download this workout here.

Week of June 15 (Week 3)

Session #1
“Half and Half”

  • Run 600 meters every 5 minutes for 20 minutes (4 sets)

These should be close to 1:1 work/rest ration so push the pace. There are only 4 reps so don’t hold back either. It should be difficult starting that 3rd set.

Session #2
“Triple Overtime”

  • Every 10 minutes, run one mile and rest for the balance of the 10 minutes. Do 3 sets.

If you run at an 8 minute per mile pace, run for 12 minutes to allow for adequate rest.

Session #3
8 sets of:

  • 100 meter sprint.
  • 300 meter recovery jog.

Plenty of Rest here, which means we want you to really push the 100m “Counterattack” sprint. Warm up properly.

You can download this workout here.

Week of June 22 (Week 4)

Session #1
“Run Smarter not Harder”

6 mile run
Nice easy pace

Session #2
“First half, Second half”
Three sets of:

  • 1 minute on (fast/hard pace).
  • 2 minutes off (walk, jog, recover).

Followed by…

  • 2 minutes on.
  • 1 minute off.

These should be fast/hard and cover as much distance as possible, as if the game speed is very high, during the time off walk, jog, do whatever you need to recover, and then pick it up when it’s time to run again. Advanced runners can do four sets followed by three sets.

Session #3
“Gone in 60 seconds”
On a 25 minute clock, 5 sets of:

  • Run for 50 seconds, rest 10 seconds.
  • Run for 40 seconds, rest 20 seconds.
  • Run for 30 seconds, rest 30 seconds.
  • Run for 20 seconds, rest 40 seconds.
  • Run for 10 seconds, rest 50 seconds.

Fatigue will become an issue as the rounds progress, decrease the number of rounds if needed (20min, 4 rounds). Vary your intensity as the intervals change. When the times are shorter, run faster! Record you total distance.

You can download this workout here.

Week of June 29 (Week 5)

Session #1
“Temperature Rising”

  • 2 Sets (4 minutes at easy pace, 40 seconds fast page, 40 seconds faster pace) with no rest between reps or sets.
  • Rest 3 minutes
  • 2 Sets (4 minutes at easy pace, 20 seconds fast page, 20 seconds faster, 20 seconds fastest) with no rest between reps or sets.
  • Rest 3 minutes
  • 2 Sets (4 minutes at easy pace, 10 seconds fast page, 10 seconds faster, 10 seconds maximum effort sprint) with no rest between reps or sets. DONE!!
Session #2
“Let’s Play OT”
Complete the following:

  • 4×200 meter (rest 1 minute between sets)
  • Run 2 miles (5k pace)
  • 2×800 meter (rest 3 minutes between sets)

Details: Run 4x200m (at slightly faster than mile pace), resting 1 minute between intervals, then run 2 miles at your 5k pace, rest 3 minutes, then run 2×800 meters (at your mile place), rest 3 minutes between intervals.

Session #3
“800/400 Triangle”
Take 15 minutes to warm up properly including at least 800 meter jog and 5-10 minutes to dynamic stretching to get your running muscles ready.

  • 400 meters fast
  • 400 meters recovery jog
  • 300 meters faster
  • 500 meters recovery jog
  • 200 meters fastest
  • 600 meters recovery jog
  • 100 meters maximum effort sprint
  • 700 meters recovery jog

Rest 3 minutes

  • 200 meters fast
  • 200 meters recovery jog
  • 150 meters faster
  • 250 meters recovery jog
  • 100 meters fastest
  • 300 meters recovery jog
  • 50 meters maximum effort sprint
  • 350 meters recovery jog

Active recovery jog is the focus here. How fast can you jog and consistently hit faster intervals? Your jog pace should stay consistent or get faster as you get deeper, especially in part 2.

You can download this workout here.

Recommended Warmups

Take 15 minutes to warm up properly AND TIME IT!!!! This should include 5 minutes of moderate jog then about 5 mins of dynamic stretching to get your running muscles primed to do some work. And finally, 3-5 minutes of sprint/game speed prep.

Yes, ideally, we would spend 30 minutes warming up like the players BUT due to our pregame responsibilities, it’s difficult to find more than 15 minutes for warmup. If there is one area that ALL of us can improve, it is warming up efficiently and effectively, so really focus and create your mechanically sound warm up.

Here are some examples of warm-ups. Try them out, tweak them, mix them up, and TIME THEM. Come game day the warm-up will be second nature and you know exactly how long it will take and be ready to go.
You can download a pdf of all the warmup exercises here.

Warmup #1

  • 300 meter jog @ 50%
  • 100 meter walk
  • 300 meter jog @ 60%
  • 100 meter walk

Followed by:
3 sets of:

  • Toe touches x 20
  • Air squats x 20
  • Skipping for height x 20 meters
  • Skipping for distance x 20 meters
  • Backwards skipping x 20 meters

Followed by:
Three sets of jog for 45 seconds, sprint 15 seconds (increase intensity each set).

Warmup #2

400 meter run @ 50% pace followed by:
Two sets of:

  • Forward lunges x 10 reps.
  • Reverse Lunges x 10 reps.
  • Lateral lunges x 10 reps.
  • High Kicks x 10 reps (leg straight).
  • One Leg Jumps x 10 reps.

Followed by:

  • Run x 30 seconds @ 60-70%
  • Jog x 30 seconds @ easy.
  • Run x 30 seconds @70-80%.
  • Jog x 30 seconds @ easy.
  • Run x 30 seconds @ 80-90%.
  • Jog x 30 seconds @ easy.

Warmup #3

Run for 5 minutes at moderate pace (50%).
Two sets of:

  • Samson Stretch x 10 each leg
  • Duck Walk x 20 meters
  • Bear Crawl x 20 meters
  • Speed Skaters x 10 each side
  • Broad Jumps x 10 reps

Followed by:
Every minute on the minute for 5 minutes, sprint 100 meters at 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%

Warmup #4

400 meter jog followed by:
A-B-C skip video example. Awkward at first.

  • A skips x 10 meters
  • A skips backward x 10 meters
  • B skips x 10 meters
  • B skips backward x 10 meters
  • C skips x 10 meters
  • C skips backward x 10 meters
  • High Knees (laterally) x 10 meters each direction

Followed by:
Three sets of 45 second sprints (65% effort) with 15 seconds rest.

Warmup #5

Run for 5 minutes at moderate (50% effort) pace followed by:
Two sets of:

  • High knees x 20 meters
  • Butt kicks x 20 meters
  • Leg Swings to side x 10 each direction and each leg
  • Leg Swings forward x 10 each leg

Followed by:
Three sets of 100 meter build up sprints (pick up the pace each 20 meters until the last 20 meters you are at 80-90%) and walk 50 meters.

Warmup #6

Run 600 meters at 50% effort followed by:
Two sets of:

  • Samson Stretch x 10 reps (each leg)
  • Reverse Lunges x 10 meters
  • High Knees x 20 meters
  • One leg jumps x 10 reps (each leg)
  • Carioca x 20 meters

Followed by:
Four sets of 60 meter sprint and 40 meter walk.
*Set 1 60%; Set 2 70%; Set 3 80%; Set 4 90%

Warmup #7

Run for 5 minutes at moderate (50%) pace followed by:
Two sets of:

  • High Knees x 20 meters
  • Butt Kicks x 20 meters
  • Lateral leg swings x 10 each direction
  • Parallel Leg swings x 10 each leg

Followed by:

  • 200 meter sprint @ 70%
  • 100 meter walk
  • 200 meter sprint @ 80%
  • 100 meter walk

Cool Down

2 minutes of slow jogging
6 minutes of static stretching (use a timer to keep you accountable)

After EVERY workout you must take the time to cool down. This is the most neglected part of workouts, and games, because of “we don’t have time”. They don’t have to be 20 minutes long; eight minutes is better than nothing. Start small and build if/when you have the time. Foam rolling can be done during this time to break down built up lactic acid, preventing muscle cramps and enhancing recovery time.

19 Responses to “NISOA Summer Physical Training Initiative”

  1. Depending on your current fitness level, you may need to scale distance and/or increase rest time for each workout in order to complete in a safe manner.

    • How are you Lance. I really enjoyed the weekly video clip exam. Would you happen to have access to warmup videos?

      • Hi Miguel,

        Warmup videos are in production as we speak.

        Stay tuned for more updates on this initiative.

        Thank you

  2. Lance, it is obvious that you put a lot of time in this program and the warm-ups. However, the workouts are probably too intense for most referees who have probably been inactive for the last 2+ months due to Covid-19. Most referees should start with 2-3 weeks of aerobic conditioning (i.e., long, slow distance runs of 2-4 miles) 2-3x/week before starting sprinting workouts.

    • Agree with you Scott. It is very important to take the time to get your feet under you and acclimated to the road/field/treadmill after a lengthy rest/vacation from the game.

      For a week, or two, just set a 10-15-20-30min goal of running on your own pace with walking, jogging, sprinting when “feeling it”. Once your body is primed, then following the suggested workouts won’t be as strenuous as if you’d roll off the couch.

      • Agree with Trent we have to recognize our own fitness…
        From less to more is the best way…. everything add!

  3. Hi Jonny Joseph
    Copy : Lance Vanhaitsma,
    The above training initiative is a great incentive and help.
    As a 70 year old ref. can the different events be scaled down to meet my needs?
    Mind you, I could work at it diligently and build up to it gradually or, is what is already presented within the limits and comforable for my age?. Lance you know my physical condition over the years. What do you think?
    I still maintain a decent level…

    • Mr Brady,

      Refer to my first comment on the post and Trent’s comment regarding modification.

      If you need any further assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly.

      Thank you


  4. Lance,

    These are an excellent addition to my “boring” daily runs. Just the type of focused exercises I need to prep for the new season!

    Thanks a ton!

    • Hi Andrew,

      Our pleasure. We hope you find value and motivation to stay on the grind with all the different workouts provided.

      Stay Tuned…..


  5. Lance is there one coming out for this week 6/15 (week 3)? Doing Video workout for today but trying to plan.

  6. Lance, I’ve been enjoying the weekly workouts (thanks Trent!). You mentioned we should email in pictures of our groups at the “Ted” talk, what was the email address?

    • Hi Dan,

      Post on your social media and tag the following;


      Also tag another member for motivation, if you’d like to do so

      Keep up the great work!

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