How To Overcome Roadblocks On Your Development Journey

How To Overcome Roadblocks On Your Development Journey

Just because you are provided or provide your referees with the information does not mean they will actually take it in. There are many different obstacles and barriers that can hinder their development. These can make it harder for your officials to retain knowledge, which will negatively impact their learning and their performance on the field of play.

So, what are some of the barriers to learning and how do you overcome them?

What Are The Biggest Barriers To Development?

Numerous factors can hinder a referee’s development and their ability to excel out in the middle. However, certain obstacles arise more frequently than others making them more common challenges. Some of these hurdles include:

Cognitive Overload

Cognitive Load Theory emphasises the significance of the working memory, a crucial component when processing and retaining new information. When officials are bombarded with an excessive amount information all at once, their working memory can become overloaded.

For example, let’s look at the scenario of providing a referee with feedback. If the official is given three distinct elements to focus on, such as their movement, positioning and foul recognition this large volume of information may overload their working memory. This means they may forget most, if not all of these elements.

Motivation Levels & Sources

Motivation is a significant component when it comes to a referee’s development. However, when an official is motivated by an unhealthy source, it can present challenges to their learning.

For example, if a referee is extrinsically motivated by tangible rewards such as money, they may be tempted to speed up their performance pathway to receive that. They may look for shortcuts and loopholes to skills that take a long time to master and not learn the correct technique, which can negatively impact their performance.

Lack of motivation is a significant hurdle in officiating. When a referee lacks motivation, they may find it challenging to fully engage in training sessions or on matchday. This lack of drive can hinder their ability to absorb and retain new techniques, strategies and skills that are crucial to their performance.

A Referee’s Relationship With Their Coach/Manager

It’s not just a coach/manager that understands how much impact they have on their learning and performance but also the official. Coaches and managers need to be seen as experts by the referee. Viewing their coach/manager as someone with a vast amount of knowledge will heighten the trust an official has for them. They need to view their coach/manager as a role model, a high-status person who will help improve their refereeing abilities and take their onfield performance to a new level.

When an official sees their coach/manager in this manner, they will be more open to develop from them. However, if a referee fails to see their coach/manager this way, they may question their credibility and intelligence. Doubts may arise regarding the coach/manager’s methods and capabilities, leading the official to become more resistant to their methods of instruction.

How To Overcome Key Development Blocks

Now that we have identified the key hurdles to overcome in yours or your referees’ journeys, we can find ways to target them directly to ensure that you or your officials succeed in their onfield career. Here are some tips to help you achieve this:

  • Break down complex skills into sub-routines – When skills are very hard, referees can feel overwhelmed and demotivated when trying to learn them. This may even result in cognitive overload. However, chunking skills down into small pieces or sub-routines makes it easier for officials to understand the skill and stop them from getting overwhelmed.

  • Establish your status as a coach/manager – Referees need to know that the coach/manager they have is someone who will enhance their development and performance. Building respect between you and your official is key. Don’t just tell your referee to do something, but also provide them with reasons why so they know what you’re talking about.

  • Unleash yours or your referee’s motivation – Self-Determination Theory argues that motivation derives from a sense of autonomy, competence and belonging. If these three components are boosted, this will increase yours or your official’s motivation to learn and therefore improve their performance.

Motivate Yourself/Your Referees Using Self-Determination Theory

Earlier, we said you need to increase your referees’ motivation, autonomy, competence and belonging – but how do we do this? Here are three strategies that may help you:

  1. Foster Successful Moments

One of the key principles for learning is the significance of high success rates. Consistently highlighting your official’s accomplishments increases their competency levels, ultimately increasing their confidence and motivation.

2. Forge a team spirit

Strengthening the bonds among your referees is crucial. Whether they operate in a team or individually, officials need to work together to create a cohesive team environment. Incorporating team building activities such as collaborative development sessions can really increase team spirit and therefore a referee’s sense of belonging. This encourages officials to support and motivate one another throughout training and on matchdays.

3. Give referees (some) choices

Offering referees choices within their learning journey can enhance engagement and motivation. You can do this in many ways, such as allowing them to select their own post-training stretches or letting them choose which set of drills to warm up with.

This will enhance an official’s sense of autonomy as they get to actively take charge of their own development. However, it is important to find a balance when granting choices to referees, they may not always have the foresight to determine what is most beneficial for their development.

Closing Reflections

Development can be influenced by various factors including motivation, perspective, and cognition. Whilst it may seem like there are many hurdles to overcome, there are strategies to help you with this. Targeting these strategies can unlock yours or your officials’ potential, allow them to retain knowledge and help them to achieve successes in the long run.

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.

Best Wishes,

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Nathan Sherratt

Referee Educator & Managing Director of The Third Team

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Nathan Sherratt

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