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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How Jamie Wallace is helping referees mentally

You might think you’re ready for all your games. You are a physically fit referee, but you still don’t earn your promotion or some negatives thoughts are keeping you behind the others. That’s because you find it difficult to deal with negative feelings or you don’t know how to deal with setbacks. “Now is the time to train your mind also”, says Jamie Wallace, who is helping referees mentally with her firm Empathy Counselling.

She will discuss 4 scenario’s below that referees can face in their career. Good things to discuss at referee associations!

Jamie Wallace with Mark Halsey and Andy Hogg at a recent Referee Development Seminar

Please introduce yourself
“My name is Jamie Wallace, I have studied Health and Social Care for 6 years, and have recently set up my own counselling firm as a result. I started off my career working in Pharmacy, and realised that helping people mwas the path that I wanted my career to take, so embarked upon my Bsc Hons Health and Social Care degree. Through my studies, I learned of the importance of the mind, and how through training our minds, and the power of positive thinking we can change our outlook, convert irrational thinking to rational, and have more control over our everyday lives. We put so much effort into looking after our bodies, now is the time to train and look after the mind also.”

What’s your experience so far with helping referees?
“Recently I have led a mental health session within one of our local referee training days, and have discussed and explored many difficult scenarios that referees face everyday, and how we can train and prepare our minds to handle these in a more productive way. It is so interesting and valuable to hear first hand of real experiences, so feel free to participate and comment on your own experiences.”

What’s mental problems could referees face?
“Below is a few of the scenarios that we discussed, and outlines some of the difficult situations and decisions that referees face.”

Scenario One: Handling Negative feedback

“Handling Negative feedback from assessors via a match report. How does this make you feel? How do you handle this? Do you blame the assessor, or reflect on yourself? Does this effect you negatively (resulting in anger, reduction in confidence, apathy) or positively (ignites a fire in you to address the feedback and improve, and work towards a planning strategy to succeed)?

Scenario Two: Overthinking your decision

“You have made a decision in the first half of a match, which at the time you believe was scorrect. It has caused a lot of controversy, and has caused the crowd and team management to turn on you. The atmosphere at the match has changed. This has caused you to reflect at half time, and upon reflection you feel your decision was wrong …

Questions to ask yourself?

  • How does this effect your second half performance and focus?
  • Do you put this down to experience and move on?
  • Do you overcompensate with the team you ruled against, and make u for your error?
  • Do you lose confidence and focus over-analysing the error?

Scenario Three: Refereeing a friend

“You have received your match detail for Saturday and on one side your best friend is playing. This generates a lot of concerns for you.”

Questions to ask yourself:

  • “How do you set him up to know that you must remain professional and objective?
  • Can you remain professional and objective?
  • How will you approach the situation? Do you approach the situation?
  • Will the other team know of your friendship and challenge your integrity?”

Scenario Four: Broken car

“You have a pre-match routine every week. This really sets you up for the game. However, this week, your car has broken down enroute to the match, leaving you no time to prepare. How does this effect your mind-set going into the game and subsequently your performance?”

“As you can see from just these few scenarios that I have picked out, referees face difficult decision making, adversity, and rigorous criticism, therefore meaning that both the mind and the body must be prepared for the position.”

You give advice via your online platform. What options do you have for referees or associations there?

Through Empathy counselling we have several options for referee associations:

We offer positive health workshops either one to one or on an online group session: This allows us to discuss scenarios and situations relevant to the referees within that group specifically, allowing us to create future plans, and exercises in place to aid a positive mind-set. It also supports the network building between the group.

We have individual consultations online for anyone who feel they would prefer this option.

Logo Empathy Counselling.Anyone contacting Empathy counselling from the blog will receive 20% discount. Any associations will receive 50% discount.

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

Want a further read on mental health? Read 7 tips to stay concentrated during the game.

Concentration training as match preparation

Concentration is so important for referees. You can train your brain to focus on the right things. There are some things you can do during the game, but there’s another useful thing: concentration training as match preparation. There are lots of things you can do at home.
As PGMOL’s sports psychologist Liam Slack says: the biggest mistake is that “referees don’t practice concentration during their training sessions”.
But what can you do?
Ian Blanchard wrote a brillaint technique in one of UK’s referee magazines to train your brain. It’s just a simple task that you can do at home while closing your eyes.
Closed eyes for concentration as match preparation

Concentration training as match preparation

Blanchard explains: “Close your eyes and focus on your breathing, feel your chest moving as you breath in and out. Count each breath, seeing how many you can count before your mind wanders or is distracted. If you get over 10 you are doing well. Practice this twice a day and set a target of improving your previous count until you are into three figures.”

Getting this technique to higher level

Use same technique as mentioned above. Think about 10 decisions you make as a referee every game. Then breath, make one of the decisions in your head,  breath again.
So: breath – give a penalty kick – breath – awared a throw-in – breath – give advantage – etcetera.

You might want to try something else. Ever tried mental imagery? Read more about this technique used by referees.

7 tips to stay focused for 90 minutes

As a referee it’s quite difficult to stay focused for 90 minutes. Just as you are watching a player being challenged, a coach yells, the crowd sings and you’ll hear another player shouting he got punched.

Too much information all at once.

But you still need to make the right call. Earlier on I explained the 4 components of concentration to give you a better understanding of this term. In this blog post you’ll get

7 tips to stay focused for 90 minutes as referee

  1. Avoid negative thoughts and feelings. You can have an external focus and try to see what’s happening on the pitch. But your focus can also be internal. You’ll over-analyze how you performed while you’re still refereeing. Or you keep thinking about that penalty kick that you did (not) give. Stay away from that.
  2. Be task rather than outcome oriented. As a referee you don’t need to win games, but you need to realise that every thing you decide will have a result (the outcome). Ignore what the result of your actions could be. As a referee you need to follow the game and decide whether a goal is scored, a foul was made and if you need to give a card. Just a few basic tasks. But if you focus on what tasks you need to do, you’ll make better decisions.
  3. Use cue words. You don’t have to speak those words out loud, but recite key words or phrases in your mind. Say “focus” constantly when you realize you were distracted. Or when you’re positioning is not well, remind yourself by saying “diagonal” or “keep close to play”.
  4. Make yourself physically comfortable. If you train well and you’re physically fit, you’ll definitely are more at ease during your games. You don’t have to worry about being unable to follow play.
  5. Recharge your batteries in between plays. This tip is in line with making yourself physically comfortable. It’s not just training prior to the game that helps. You should also slightly relax in between plays. Keep in mind that this relaxing means you breath normally, but don’t start focusing on the fans or so. Those are external distractions that you should not focus on.
  6. Add a consistent routine to your refereeing. Put cards in the same pockets every time. Isolate a player before you book him. If you do things always in the same way, it will go easier and you won’t loose focus because something is different.
  7. Focus on your breathing. Pay careful attention to each inhalation and exhalation. You’ll notice the air flow in and out and you’ll get more relaxed, which help you concentrate.

That are 7 tips you can do during the game to stay focused for 90 minutes. But what can you do at home? Read more about concentration as match preparation.

Do you have any tips on how you stay focused during the game? Share your tip in the comments below.

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4 components of concentration as referee

2016 could be your year as a referee. But you won’t improve your skills without putting much effort in it. Refereeing is hard work – especcially when you want to get better.

That’s my goal as well. I want to help you getting better by publishing useful information on my blog. I’ll do that by picking a theme each month and give you new insights or learn you new excercises. The theme of January will be mental fitness. During the first week I’ll blog about keeping your concentration during a game.

4 components of concentration as a referee

4 components of concentration as referee

Before you get tips on improving your concentrating during a game, it’s good to have an understanding of what it is about. The four components of concentration are: width, direction, intensity and duration.

1. Width

You can’t see everything as a referee – although you wish you could. When your focus is broad you’ll get an overview of what’s happening on the pitch and the benches. There is a large amount of sources you’ll get information from. You’ll hear both coaches yell something to you or one of the players. The assistant referee is signalling something or speaking in his microphone. The defender on the other end is arguing with an attacker and at the same time the a player with the ball is storming forward. A good moment to get an overview of what’s happening on the pitch.

But when the player who’s storming forward will be challenged or when the argument between the two players is getting nasty, you need to narrow down your focus. Limit the amount of information you were getting. Forget about the coaches then en focus on the action.

If you have the correct focus based on the demands of activity, you can leave out irrelevant thoughts. That will help you improve your decision-making and you’ll be able to react appropriately.

2. Direction

The direction of your focus can be external (the things that happen on the pitch) or internal (thoughts and emotions). I’d advice you to try to focus on the game itself. Analyzing your game and thinking about the calls you made is good, but only after the game and not while refereeing.

3. Intensity

The intensity of your concentration really depends on the game. In some games nothing happens and in others there are a few fouls every minute. Watch out in the first situation: don’t get too relaxed. Just one late tackle in a easygoing game and you need to make sure you’ll make the right call and act in the right way. Later this month we’ll talk about some techniques to keep concentration for 90 minutes, even during boring games.

4. Duration

If you have to stay focused for a long time and the game is boring and nothing happens, that’s difficult. The same for staying intensely focused for a longer time. As mentioned at the start of this blog: you can’t see everything. And when your head’s getting an information overload, you might stress-out.

Your tips on concentration

What do you think on these 4 components of concentration as referee? Has it helped you getting a better understanding of this topic?

Here are 7 tips to stay focused for 90 minutes.

One of the things that help is feeling relaxed. I’d love to hear from you how you make sure to be relaxed while going to your games. Please comment below or reply to DutchReferee@gmail.com