How the PRO structures its performance department and daily data collection processes
The Professional Referee Organization (PRO) is dedicated to the identification, training, assessment, assignment and employment of professional soccer officials in the United States.
We spoke to Matt Hawkey, PRO’s director of performance and analysis, about overcoming travel and remote monitoring, their performance structure and daily data collection, and aligning performance monitoring through a single product stack.
Performance department structure
Arranged functionally, the PRO’s performance department assigns specialists to each function in order for everyone to contribute strongly to the overall direction of the organization.
“We have our group that works with MLS in our top tier of referees and assistant referees, VARs and AVARs,” said Hawkey. “The VARs are Video Assisted Referees and AVARs are Assistant Video Referees, which comprise of either current referees or former referees.
“That group is the top of the triangle, the pinnacle of the career path that a referee is trying to get to. Underneath that level, we service the leagues of the NSL, NWSL, and the USL is now comprised of three leagues. So that is the second layer of games that we need to cover.”
Below the top tier of referees is a development group, similar to the relationship between an academy and a first team squad. This group is comprised of between 100 and 150 aspiring referees.
The highest tier officials are required to attend rigorous training camps every two months, with assistant referees, VARs and AVARs also obliged to attend at least four camps per year.
“The camps are really dialled in on our top 25 referees – the guys you see in the middle of MLS games each weekend,” said Hawkey. “We have one performance coach who works with that top-level group, and then our Development Group sports scientist works with all the officials; so he has a massive job to prescribe and track that tier.
“Then we have our medical side, which involves our athletic trainer and team doctor. Our sports performance coach, Tom, oversees our nutrition, and then we have our video analyst role, which is broken into two tiers."
Physical Assessment & Daily Collection
The PRO performance team capture daily information in Catapult AMS to power their sports science insights and help align their results and communication processes.
Their physical assessment consists of a wide range of tests and metrics, including visual coaching, heart rate, weighted performance scores and subjective wellness feedback. All of this information is stored in Catapult AMS and monitored to ensure that officials are coping with the physical demands of the role and putting themselves in the best position to succeed.
In order to prove that they are physically equipped to be a professional referee in the PRO program, referees conduct regular fitness tests. These tests consist of a range of activities based around seven key pillars: endurance, speed, explosiveness, strength, movement, game assessment, and FIFA test.
Endurance: MAS, Repeat Sprint Ability (RaNT), Yo-Yo, 1 mile run, 400m
Speed: 20-30-40 meter
Explosiveness: Vertical jump (peak force, peak velocity), broad jump
Strength: Pull-ups, push-ups, bench, core stability
Movement: Video analysis, FMS
Game Assessment: Assessment score
FIFA Test: 6x40m sprint with 1.5 minute rest, 20x150m run with 50m walk
PRO stores this physical data alongside wellness and other health information in Catapult AMS. This helps the organization to consolidate its data and improve the monitoring and management of their officials, putting them in a position to optimize their performance when officiating at the highest level.