Why does it sometimes take you 20 minutes to find your rhythm in a game?
Maybe you’ve experienced this feeling:
You arrive at the venue and something doesn’t feel right. Mentally, you feel like you are not ready for the match. As you blow the first whistle, you feel uncomfortable. You play an advantage and then blow your whistle but you’ve ended up leaving yourself to deal with a far worse challenge. After that poor decision, all you want is to not make another. In the next 20/25 minute spell, you are left trying to get into the flow of the match. When you finally get into the groove, you are solely concerned with bringing back up the level of your match control from a difficult first 20 minutes of the game.
So, what does this mean?
Why is Getting Into a Rhythm Difficult For Some Referees?
This is all to do with preparation, more specifically, when an official starts to mentally prepare for an appointment.
Some referees take a random and inconsistent approach to their pre-match preparation. These officials have no standard preparation routine and hope they are ready to referee by the time they blow the first whistle.
A football match doesn’t start with your first blow of the whistle.
- Pre-match preparation should be intentional, purposeful and routine. As for the timing, this should start long before the first blow of the whistle in a game.
- Pre-match preparation should be something you consciously attend to, something you perform habitually in the same manner, prior to every appointment.
- Pre-match preparation is about getting your mind and body ready to officiate at your peak from the first whistle.
In fact, if you make your pre-match preparation a routine, it will send a message to your brain signaling, “I’m completely ready to officiate.”
This message to your brain not only calms any nerves you may have, it also breeds confidence. Isn’t that what all officials are looking for at the start their games, high confidence?
In Golf, The World No. 1, Dustin Johnson attributes his success to his extensive preparation, in particular, his pre-round routine. Johnson has steadily climbed the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) since 2016 due to his consistent performances in tournaments. Johnson’s consistent play is directly related to his consistent preparation.
“If we tee off at 7am I’ll get up at 4am. I’ll get ready, go to the gym. Then I’ll head to the course, eat, go to the range and start warming up an hour and 15 minutes before my tee time. Chip and putt, hit balls, go through the whole bag. If I haven’t warmed up, the first few shots don’t feel so good, because I’m not loose.” – Dustin Johnson, World No. 1 golfer
That routine is very specific! Johnson’s routine helps him slowly narrow his focus so, by the time he tees off, he is totally prepared to play. His results are a strong measure of his success.
If you want to consistently officiate at your peak, you can look at Johnson as a great example and adopt your own consistent, thorough and purposeful pre-match routine.
Guidance For Developing an Effective Pre-match Routine:
Write out a plan for what you should do from the moment you leave your house to prepare yourself mentally and physically. Consider what your pre-match meal may contain, preparing your equipment, stretching, warm-up, visualisation, checking on the condition of the field of play. Don’t forget the importance of your mental preparation for the game. Think about decisions you may have to make during the game, in your mind, review your game plan, and use positive self-talk to build confidence.
Consistent performances start with consistent mental and physical preparation.
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.
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.