Blog,  mental fitness

Positive thinking as a referee

What does help you reach your goals? You need some positive thinking as a referee. Dutch international referee Serdar Gozubuyuk thought he could not make it. He was Turkish, so probably was not good enough to achieve things in The Netherlands. “That’s what I thought in earlier days”, Gozubuyuk told magazine NuSport. He heared the same thoughts from other boys in his neighbourhoud. “Then parents said: nonsense. There are half a million people without a job, there will be Dutch too.”

Change how you think

Gozubuyuk changed the way he thought. He got a different view about what he can do himself to reach his goals. Positive thinking as a referee (and player, coach, etc.) would help you a lot. It helped the Dutch referee with Turkish roots as well. “I was twelve and the son of Willem van Hanegem (Dutch international player) was one of my friends. Willem came to one of my games as referee and said I should go on with whistling. If such a football star says something like that, you’ll continue doing it. Also to show the people around me that it is really possible to achieve things. Year after year I got promoted. Then I knew for sure: it doesn’t matter if your name is Hassan, Mehmet or Theo.”

This situation shows what a positive attitude can do with you. And that can help you in different ways. Also minor setbacks (bad marks, assessments) or not earning a promotions are crucial for a referee’s career. Those moments decide how good you are and then you should think positive as a referee. Some tips for you below.

Thumbs up. Posotive thinking as referee.

I asked Jamie Wallace, who told earlier on this blog how she helps referees mentally, how referees can stay positive. “There are a few exercises that you can do to train the mind for a positive mind-set”. Check out what you can do:

1. Focusing on what went well, and formulating a future plan:

After each match/ training session record in a journal what has went well (really focus on the positive here, even if its been a difficult session)….this will highlight your progress and your achievements…..also formulate a plan for aspects you want to focus on and improve… this will highlight your difficulties as a development opportunity and not a negative.

2. Maintaining the body will support your mind

Training regulary will maintain your confidence as well as your physical strength, and keep the mind focused that you are prepared. Eating well will support your body to perform at its best, providing you with the best start to any match. A good nights sleep prior to the match, will support rational thinking, a clear mind-set, and a focused thought process to decisions. It all sounds very simple, however missing one of these can lead to a doubtful mind on what you can achieve, a doubt around your capacity, a lack of self-belief, and an unfocused approach.

3. Teamwork

Sharing experiences creates a supportive network, that allows you not to dwell on the negative, as others have been in the same situations. Helping others also spreads positivity, so instead of avoiding negative energy in case it jumps onto you….help someone else through it to create your own positivity. Encompass a discussion session into all of your referee training days to support this…balancing out the body and the mind.

4. Affirmations

Instead of focusing on the obstacles to what is stopping you achieve your goals……focus on what you want to achieve. By focusing on this only….it will provide you with your course of action. The power of positive thinking.

“Maintaining a positive mind-set in refereeing is so important to maintain your confidence, to instill the crowd and the teams confidence in you, to help you achieve your goals, to help you develop, and to support your passion for the role, that so often can become diminished due to set-backs.”

Logo Empathy Counselling.

Go to the Empathy Counseling website and get in touch with Jamie Wallace.

Want to know more? Read back the interview with Jamie Wallace about helping referees mentally.


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