Effectively Reflecting on Officiating Performances

Effectively Reflecting on Officiating Performances

Reflection on performance plays an important role in referee development and adherence to training programmes. Therefore our reflection needs to be accurate and informative for officials, referee coaches & managers. Studies have highlighted that officials can accurately remember only 40% of performance. This statistic may shock some referees, and this is not unique to officials.

Why can we not remember accurately? Well, recently conducted research could provide an answer to this question, as it has highlighted that we are all prone to two phenomenon; ‘duration neglect’ and ‘peak end rule’.

OK, so what is this ‘duration neglect’ and ‘peak end rule’? Well, duration neglect refers to the memory of an experience which doesn’t reflect the duration of that experience. This is in part due to retrospective evaluations focusing on ‘snapshots’ of peak or end experiences, otherwise known as the ‘peak end rule’. Most people are unaware of their own duration neglect or that peak end rule experiences directly affect their evaluations.

The human memory has developed this way, in part due to evolution; where remembering a bad experience can help us prevent it from happening again and in early evolution help us to survive. Therefore we neglect the duration of the experience and focus on the ‘snapshot’ of the peak or end. However in the modern world and especially in refereeing, this type of memory is not always effective. In fact, it has been highlighted that future decisions are based on these inaccurate evaluations of the past. Therefore the following research is important to officials, if you are to reflect effectively on performance and training sessions.

Duration neglect and peak end rule have both been shown in pain research. This research has revealed that if the end pain of a medical procedure is high then the patient will remember this ‘snapshot’ and neglect the duration, regardless of how low the pain may have been.

Recently sports science researchers have looked at the duration neglect and peak end rule within exercise programmes. Studies have revealed that up to 58% of our memory is affected by the peak end rule when reflecting on exercise programmes. Further to this, adherence to exercise programmes has also been shown to increase when the end experience of an exercise programme is positive. Therefore the peak end rule and duration neglect can play a role in reflection of sporting experiences.

An example of how duration neglect and peak end rule could affect our reflection:

In training and on matchday it is important to use solid information to base our reflections on. Often at half time we see the peak end rule playing a factor in reflection of that halves performance. This is especially common if one team scores/takes the lead in the last minutes of that half. Peak end rule would suggest that the reflection of that halves performance would be affected by this end experience and subsequently change the reflection we experience. If this takes place we have fallen for the duration neglect as we have failed to take into account the duration of good performance prior to the last minutes.

This is example shows how quickly our memory of an event can change. This is not to say that it happens every time, but as research has highlighted, our memory is not accurate. This supports the use of performance analysis statistics on matchday and even in training (where possible), as the statistics produced are more objective. This is in comparison to the human memory, which as previous research has shown is likely to fall for duration neglect and peak end rule.

  • So, how can a referee’s duration neglect or peak end rule?
  • Base your judgements after viewing the statistics that are important to successful performance.
  • Use a performance log to catalogue what happens during training as well as on matchday.
  • Reflection on the duration of the good performance.
  • Try and finish training sessions in a positive manner (if possible) this plays on the peak end rule as previously shown and may help you to have a positive memory of the session.
  • Avoid focusing on ‘snapshots’ too much.

I hope by highlighting the duration neglect and peak end rule we can all be aware of this and how it affects our reflections on performance. Furthermore that referee coaches and managers can now help referees minimise the effects of these on their performances.

At The Third Team I work individually and in collaboration with different professionals where I have developed workshops associated with Resilience and Mental Toughness Development to help referees. The workshops are interactive, where referees are encouraged to open up and share their experiences to help each other.

Feel free to contact me if you’d like to know more about my workshops and how I could help you or your officials.

Best Wishes,

Nathan Sherratt Signature

Nathan Sherratt

Referee Educator & Managing Director of The Third Team

Nathan Sherratt

Nathan Sherratt, Referee Educator, Resilience Trainer and Managing Director of The Third Team.  A Mental Toughness Practitioner based in County Durham, North East England.