Referee Psychology

Since I am studying an introduction to psychology this term, I recently got the advice that I decided to reflect on again that “Try to apply your subject area to something you are interested in or passionate about”. In my case, refereeing!

Try the link below for a psychology evaluation of yourself as a football referee.
Psychology Skills for Football Referees

The file is unmodified so credit goes to the author as detailed inside the spreadsheet. I sourced this from usrefereeconnection.

Textbook Readings

Funnily enough as I leafed through my psychology textbook ‘Psychology Ninth Edition in Modules’, I found several references to the beautiful game as there is plenty to analyse in our sport. Here are a few credit to the textbook.



I approve of the examples other than choice items like use of the word “soccer”.

Now something slightly more interesting to refs watching and studying videos of incidents.


Now I do not endorse the wording used in this question at all since I wasn’t sure if it was American football when I read “penalty cards” but I think they were getting at fouls and misconduct. The point they bring up is quite interesting. I can’t say that it is the same on the field as this refers to simply video-taped fouls so it would be obvious to assume that any preconceived notion about teams/players would be good not to know about necessarily.

Research Online

There are so many studies on the psychology of football referees that I couldn’t possibly include all the info or references on this post. Search online! Plenty of sports psychologists work alongside National FAs to help referees understand issues and overcome obstacles in their profession.

I know I have faced hindsight bias after reflecting on a game given the signs and indications of a player dismissed. This is important in development and is natural from people I have spoken to.

I remember reading an article stating that referees were affected by the colour red but having re-done the research, it appears this only affects tae-kwon-doe thankfully or our decision-making may be called into question!

Luckily they tried the same thing on football referees and found no conclusion.

Some other psychological preparation material for referees thanks to USSF is available here.

General Online

Here is usrefconnection’s take on referee psychology which is a detailed and informative article.!using-psychology-in-soccer-officiating/cqn8

Here is another video I sourced on Referee Psychology. Read the subtitles carefully for the accompanying content.

Other articles of interest:


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