September 3, 2012 · health mental-health mind referee sports sports psychologists sports psychology toughness

Mental Training

"Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical" Yogi Berra

Any athlete will tell you that all the skill in the world won't make up for a weak mind. It's the same way in officiating. You might be the best play caller in the country, but if you lose focus after a bad call, you won't last very long. Every athlete and official makes mistakes. The key component is how you respond to those mistakes. Throw an interception in the 3rd quarter during the playoffs? Make a strong showing in the 4th quarter and get the comeback victory.

Referees have to have a long and short memory depending on the situation. We must catalog each play during a game and understand what has happened up to this point. At the same time, when we miss calls, we need to do our best to forget them. The more time we spend focused on the missed call, the longer we have lost focus on the game in front of us. Missed calls lead to more missed calls, especially if we can't get our mind off the mistake. Easier said than done. Each official will have their own technique to help them forget. Several I've used: focus on competitive match-ups more intently or use a catch phrase that you helps you move on such as "breathe" or "focus".

To help improve my own mental game, I turned to books written by professional sports psychologists. A few of the books include:

I found that the majority of sports psychology books tend to focus on general ideas on how exceptional athletes are able to use the power of their mind to do extraordinary feats. The one book out of the four above that isn't just fluff with a few suggestions is 10-Minute Toughness. The book has a full plan to become a better athlete. Rather than providing general information, 10-Minute Toughness has a program for in-season and off-season mental work. There are several worksheets to get started and guide you through the process. I've used 10-Minute Toughness for basketball officiating, golf, and crossfit workouts and have seen great improvements in how I handle bad situations.

We constantly train our bodies; spend some time on your mind.

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