How to Remain in 'The Zone' When Refereeing Well

How to Remain in ‘The Zone’ When Refereeing Well

Have you ever refereed a game where, over the course of the first hour everything was going to plan then, inexplicably, your game got away from you and couldn’t make a correct decision?

Your positioning went out of kilter, your legs felt heavy and you second-guessed every decision you made.

Many officials don’t understand how their refereeing style can change within a game or changes in their level of performance from fixture to fixture which creates a tremendous amount of frustration and anger.

Closing out a strong officiating performance is not the easiest task in the world but what causes a referee to be knocked out of their zone?

The reason officials go from good to bad is that their refereeing style moves from unconscious to conscious.

When you are officiating at your peak, you are not thinking, analysing, or evaluating the game. You are immersed in what you are doing.

In the unconscious realm, your refereeing seems effortless, you have a sense of calm while officiating and your focus is laser-like.

When refereeing in the zone, solutions to challenging situations come easily into your mind. In the unconscious realm, you are simply taking each decision as it comes and not worrying about the next challenge.

When you switch over to the conscious realm, everything changes. You start over-thinking each decision and your match control, over-analysing how to manage each challenge and evaluating how you are officiating.

Sometimes you may start to protect your marks and try not to make mistakes when refereeing well.

Instead, you want to continue to officiate in the same style that got you in position to score good marks.

The Players Perspective

Professional golfer, Sebastian Munoz, demonstrated the effect of when your unconscious play switches to the conscious realm.

Munoz was on target to becoming the first winner to lead all four rounds at the 2017 Greenbriar Classic and led after each of the first three rounds shooting 61, 67 and 68.

Interestingly enough, no third round leader has ever held on in the final round and won the Greenbriar tournament.

Munoz fell foul of the same fate and had four bogeys on the front nine of the final round, shot a 72 and finished tied for third at 12 under.

“I just think the putt on 4, that short one, I just stepped out of my routine and I missed it and it shook up things for me… But, yeah, I was just trying to find it on the next five or six holes and, yeah, it just created that little lack of confidence or doubt, that created a little doubt and it didn’t help.” – Sebastian Munoz, Professional Golfer

Trying to finish a golf tournament on top comes with even more pressure than trying to seal a good round in the making, the same is true for referees.

How to Keep an Unconscious Mindset:

When you start to over think your refereeing style or consider the marks you may receive, you have to quickly refocus on the next half or incident.

Performance marks are nothing more than a distraction to refereeing well. Continue to officiate without prejudice and not to actively avoid making mistakes or errors. When officiating well, it is not a time to be cautions or protect your marks.

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.