Helping Young Referees Mentally Prepare Before Matches

Helping Young Referees Mentally Prepare Before Matches

So your children would like to perform to their best but they put a lot of pressure on themselves before matches. Does this sound familiar?

I wonder do your children know how to mentally prepare before these matches?

With the 1000’s of youngsters I’ve spoken to I’ve come to understand that the time before they blow the first whistle is hugely vital yet not used very effectively.

These are some of the common challenges I’ve noted:
– Worrying about letting either team down

– Worrying about letting the coaches down

– Being overly anxious before matches and being sick in changing rooms

– Getting distracted by parents and spectators in matches

– Feeling overwhelmed

– Facing criticism during matches

– Worrying about what parents or spectators will say to them after a match as they leave the field

– Failing to use skills the way they do in theory when they referee a match, leading to giving little effort

– Worrying about getting injured

– Allowing self-doubt and a lack of confidence to control them

Helping Young Referees Mentally Prepare Before Matches

How can we help your young referees improve their pregame mental game preparation?

A great way to improve consistency of performance is to help referees prepare mentally prior to matches. For referees aged 14 – 18 a number of County Football Associations such as Somerset County FA have invested in purple shirts (as seen at the top of the article) for all referees under the age of 18 so that all players, spectators and club officials know a child is officiating. Other County Football Associations, such as North Riding, have invested in yellow armbands (as seen directly above) for child referees for the same purpose.

It is not widely known that 14 to 18 year olds are the largest group to qualify as referees but then not re-register for a second season, with many citing the abuse they face as their reason for leaving. Football has to do more to help encourage youngsters to stay in the game, and it is hoped that the purple shirt and yellow armband campaigns will be a good way of doing this.

These campaigns are about improving the match day experience for everyone involved. Reducing incidents of intimidation and abuse from the touchline will certainly help to retain more young referees, but it will also help to improve the overall atmosphere at games, giving the young players and match officials the environment they need to in order to improve their skills, reach their potential and, most importantly, enjoy the game.

If you enjoyed this article feel free to forward it on to anyone who you think might find it helpful. Or if you would like to chat about this please get in touch.

Best Wishes, 

Nathan Sherratt Signature

Nathan Sherratt

Referee Educator & Managing Director of The Third Team