Do you embrace big moments in matches?
Whatever level you officiate at, I’m pretty sure that you’ve experienced feeling under pressure. How you go on to cope with that pressure often is the difference between making that correct decision on a key match incident and not.
Do you have techniques that you rely on to keep you cool and calm? Do you have techniques to draw on to keep you “in the present moment”? Read on if you’d like to know more.
I’ll share 3 tips that can help you thrive under pressure and give yourself more chance of achieving your refereeing goals.
Many of these skills can be learned off the football pitch and can be applied to different areas of your life. Similar to training in a gym, the more you practise these techniques the stronger you’ll get.
1. See it, give it
A tendency many referees have when they officiate under pressure is to to worry about making a decision and the reaction of players and spectators around suggesting that what happened was not what the referee saw. As a result, many referees hold their whistle, especially under pressure or if they’re having a poor game. Think about when you’re at your best or every decision you make is being accepted by everyone around, you are likely to be more relaxed and trust yourself when making decisions.
Get used to visualising yourself successfully making decisions under pressure, and then during quiet periods in games, play these moves through your mind. This approach will help you trust yourself under pressure and give yourself the best opportunity to make that telling decision, relieving the pressure on you and your assistants.
2. Try encouraging yourself, as great coaches do
When you’re officiating under pressure, positive self-talk can really help you stay in control. Go ahead design some scripts including some cue words and positive statements to help you feel great under pressure and relax. For example, for cue words, you may use in the warm up may be, “breathe”, “calm”, “cool” or “trust.” For positive statements during a tight game you might say to yourself, “I’ve administered discipline 1000‘s of times successfully, let’s do it again” or “this is fun, I love refereeing when we’re under pressure.”
3. Focus on the present moment
Grounding yourself during breaks in play or when the ball is dead may be possible and can be helpful. For example, perhaps scanning your surroundings and noting to yourself the colour of a players boots, the size of a stand or the colour of an advertising hoarding can help referees stay in the present moment and can be a great distraction technique.
Referee Educator & Managing Director of The Third Team