BILL Eaton continues to provide a light-hearted insight into life as a referee in his weekly column.

This week he talks about preparing for a game.

THIS week I will give you an insight into the role of a referee mentor. As a qualified mentor of the Lancashire Football Association, I have worked with more than 40 referees in the the last four or five years.

My aim is to help develop referees’ skills, knowledge and confidence. Preparation is key.

I start by contacting the referee a few days prior to the game to confirm the venue and kick off time. Then on the day I look to cover a few key points: Pitch inspection is vital before every game.

Positioning is very important in open play, for a referee to be able to sell their decision, (credibly).

The optimum viewing distance is between 15-18 yards. I remember one season I gave 15 penalties and issued three cautions for diving (one was a second yellow).

All were awarded from a few yards around the edge of the penalty area. Communication is key as a referee has four ways of controlling the game. The first and most important is verbal, talking to players, advising them, restarting play with yes please, when your ready.

The second is body signals and a good strong sharp and held arm signal not only helps the players understand the referees’ decision but also the coaches and spectators.

The third is the whistle and it is very important a referee changes the tone of the whistle, from a low whistle for a minor foul, but increasing it not only in loudness but also in length and sharpness as the foul is more punishable.

Finally, the fourth is the use of yellow and red cards. We don’t allow substitutions to avoid issuing or receiving cards. Players need to learn what is and what is not acceptable.