Are you or your colleagues afraid other referees will see you as weak if you have to do mental training or work with a resilience trainer or mental toughness practitioner? Even today, officials buy into myths about the psychological aspects of refereeing, which prevents them from embracing the benefits of mental training. I recently received an email from a young newly qualified official getting ready for their first full season. This referee states:
“I have friends who perform better than me and they don’t read any mental training books. Every time I open my mental training book I feel no motivation to read because better referees don’t do anything to mentally prepare themselves. I feel that I’m weak by being probably the only guy preparing for next season that reads mental training books. I have only heard of a very few great referees that do mental preparation.”
When I receive these emails from officials, I’m surprised that people still view mental training or psychology as a weakness and thus think they are inferior because they need to do mental training. Unfortunately, a few referees still buy into myths about psychology and thus shy away. This is an interesting–and misguided–conception about the value of psychology.
One of the hallmarks of great officials is their interest in improving themselves. That doesn’t just apply to their physical skills; it applies to their mental game, as well. There’s nothing weak or wimpy about being willing and eager to improve oneself and one’s performance.
I do think that some referees are naturally more talented than others and confidence comes easily for them. Other officials have to work harder at their refereeing to keep up and they might not develop the confidence they need to be fully confident. In any case, officials at all levels are using mental training and psychology to become better referees, no matter if they are in a slump or trying to keep a streak of good performances alive.
I also know that in some sports, sports psychology is embraced more than others. In golf, tennis, and baseball, for example, athletes accept mental training as another type of performance enhancement. In addition, many professional athletes attribute their success to mental toughness including golfer Tiger Woods, NASCAR driver Jeff Burton, and basketball player Michael Jordan….
“The most important attribute a soccer player (footballer) must have is mental toughness. Before you can win, you must have the will to prepare to win.” – Mia Hamm
Lastly, if you or your referees worry that others think you’re weak (if you do mental training) you spend too much time thinking about how others view you. You can’t worry about what others think about how you train or your game. If this is you, you’re a great candidate for mental training! With mental training, you can learn to “tune out” worries about what others think of you and focus on what’s most important, officiating the game and performing at your best.
Referees are more likely to embrace mental training when they understand it and its benefits. However, the best way for officials to buy into mental training is when they actually experience its power first hand. Psychological or mental training helps referees perform more consistently, find the zone more often, keep a streak of good performances alive, and learn how to think well under pressure.
At The Third Team I work individually and in collaboration with different professionals where I have developed workshops and 1-2-1 sessions associated with Resilience and Mental Toughness Development to help referees. The workshops and 1-2-1 sessions are interactive, where referees are encouraged to open up and share their experiences to help themselves and each other.
Feel free to contact me if you’d like to know more about my workshops or 1-2-1 sessions and how I could help you or your officials.
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 in County Durham, North East England.