Mental fitness is just as important as physical fitness in a referees’ pursuit of fulfilling their potential. It gives referees a platform to perform at a higher level and possess a greater sense of wellbeing to manage the challenges they face more effectively. Unfortunately many referees do not consider mental fitness as important and as a result it can have a big impact on referees achieving their long term goals such as promotion.
For many in the UK, the traditional Christmas holiday season from Christmas Day to the first week in January when schools and businesses start the new calendar year, is one that conjures up images of festive football.
Whilst it is important to rest, relax and recharge your batteries, it is also time to reflect on the first half of your season and set your personal resolutions for the new year as well as your refereeing goals for the rest of the season. The best chance you have of achieving these goals in 2020 is by getting yourself mentally fit. This involves learning how to develop a positive mindset to confidently approach each game and deal with the challenges and opportunities that come your way in the 90+ minutes.
Being mentally fitter and mentally tougher will give you a platform to perform at a higher level and possess a greater sense of wellbeing to manage stress and change more effectively.
The Third Team works with groups of officials and educational institutions to develop the mental fitness, resilience and mental toughness of groups of people using the 4C’s framework from the MTQ48 psychometric measure developed by Peter Clough and Doug Strycharczyk. The 4C’s are Control, Commitment, Challenge and Confidence.
Things to focus on when looking to improve mental fitness:
Being in control and being calm
With a high sense of self-control you know who you are as a referee within games, what you stand for and why you are in the officiating games. You will believe strongly that you are in control of whether you have a good game or not and that your actions will determine your success in delivering a game successfully. This control extends to your moods and emotions and although you are positive and motivated in your attitude towards games you are less likely to become influenced or distracted by the emotions or opinions of spectators, club officials or players. This matters most when there are times of adversity or setbacks in games and when spectators, club officials or players negativity can affect the mood of you and your colleagues. Staying calm and in control has an incredibly positive impact on you and those around you.
Being focused and less distracted from achieving your goals
Being mentally tough provides you with a strong level of commitment and as such you will set your goals, whether those being goals for the game or goals for the season, in place and will be focused on achieving these no matter what competing priorities or extreme pressures threaten to intervene. This ability to referee to a high standard consistently and work towards goals as a matter of routine is critical to your success.
Becoming more in control and making more things happen through refereeing to a high standard consistently also helps you to become more resilient by bouncing back quicker and stronger from setbacks and poorer performances.
Embracing the challenge and focusing on not overthinking about failing to deliver in games
A key aspect of being mentally tough is in the way you manage your fears of failing to deliver in games. If you can flip your thinking so that you aren’t anxious or stressed by failure you will begin to see the challenges you face during games as an opportunity, rather than as a setback or hurdle. As a result you can open up progression opportunities such as promotion.
With a positive outlook on failure, the magnitude of your refereeing goals won’t be as daunting and you will begin to place yourself in challenging moments in games to test and grow your refereeing ability.
Building your confidence using a positive mindset and self-talk
Being realistically confident of your own ability to meet the demands of any given situation that could arise within a game increases your likelihood of success. This in turn builds your confidence in your own abilities as a referee and also your ability to influence others around you because you are sure that what you are doing is right. Often setting realistic expectations and goals is important in building your confidence. Break the big goals such as promotion down into little goals such a refereeing well consistently. Achieving New Year’s resolutions and your refereeing goals, starts with setting and achieving smaller goals on a game by game basis. The achievement of smaller goals adds up quickly and mean that in no time you will have mastered the big goals. These achievements adds further to your confidence, wellbeing and mental fitness.
Being mentally tough is a state of mind. It is about being more disciplined about the way you approach your life and refereeing.
You can measure how mentally fit you are by taking the simple but effective psychometric measure MTQ48 and then using the reports and results you can build and develop your mental toughness.
To learn more about getting yourself, your students or your group of officials mentally fit for the second half of the 2019/20 season and beyond then please get in touch with Nathan Sherratt at The Third Team.
Referee Educator & Managing Director of The Third Team
Nathan Sherratt, Referee Educator, Resilience Trainer and Managing Director of The Third Team. A Mental Toughness Practitioner based near Durham, North East England.