Using a Positive Mental Approach to Increase Consistency

Using a Positive Mental Approach to Increase Consistency

What are the keys to greater consistency in refereeing performances?

Many factors, such as injuries, over training, lack of preparation, unrealistic expectations, contribute to inconsistency. Each of these factors is impacted by your thoughts.

Your thoughts heading into matchday affect your confidence, focus, and performance.

The following are thoughts that contribute to inconsistent performances:

“I’ve been up and down all season. Can I perform well today?”

“I’m so nervous that I will make a mistake.”

“What if I make the same mistakes as the last game?”

“There is so much pressure on me. I hope I don’t freeze.”

“I officiated great in the last two games. I’m bound to make an error today.”

“I’ve been so sore from training. There is no way I can be at my best.”

These thoughts create doubt, fear of falling apart, increased pressure, and difficulty focusing. Your thoughts hurt your mental game by overwhelming your mind with ‘what ifs.’

In addition, disruptive thoughts set in motion a prolonged stress response. Physiological responses, such as shallow breathing, tense muscle and rapid heart rate interfere with the body’s ability to function efficiently.

The solution is to avoid focusing or thinking about outcomes such as potential mistakes, placing in the Top 5 of your banding table, beating a colleague, being appointed to a cup final, and a host of other result-oriented thoughts.

How do you avoid disruptive thoughts and improve consistency? The answer is simple but not always easy to apply in matchday situations.

You must manage thoughts or focus your attention on the present moment. Instead of ‘what if’ thoughts, consciously think ‘what now’ thoughts. What should I focus on now in warm-up?” “What is my strategy right now for this point?”

You may not be able to stop disruptive thoughts, but you can choose to focus on productive thoughts. When you mentally train yourself to manage your thoughts constructively, you will increase the likelihood of consistent performances.

The American Football Case

During the NFL 2022 preseason, Chicago Bears coach Matt Eberflus preached the importance of consistency. Eberflus has an intriguing philosophy about consistency.

“As you have seen over the course of training camp, a lot of things have changed. There’s a lot of adjustment going on. So, it’s about guys that can sustain the performance, that can sustain execution, and then take that to the first week.”

Eberflus uses the term “sustain.” In other words, referees should sustain an effective thought process. Officials should sustain their focus on execution. Referees should sustain the way they prepare.

You will be more consistent in your onfield performances when you sustain a positive and productive approach to fixtures.

To maintain consistency, you must sustain a positive approach:

You can accomplish this feat by asking yourself the right questions: What thoughts can I focus on now in training to build consistency in my game?

What can I add to my pre-match preparation that will lead to consistent performances?

Consistent mental and physical preparation leads to consistent performance. Be sure to apply the same approach to each game you’re appointed to.

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.