The idea of this post came from Week 22 Part 2.
I was chatting with a referee colleague who discussed how he felt before a game and how he has done his best to change how he comes into a game from now on so that it wouldn’t affect his officiating. Spelt out, he meant Mental Preparation.
This is something always on my mind in the build-up to a game and I have found matters even more as the calibre and competition level of games increase. I need to be in a better mental state prior to the game in order to perform to the best of my abilities. I have found both sides of the coin when I have had great mental preparation and a clean slate and the opposite where even my own ARs have distracted me and my frame of mind wasn’t clear entering the game.
All referees face it. Some of us actively think about it.
Here’s some material FIFA provides its referees on mental focus.
Meanwhile, while mental focus is important, it’s also essential that it not take one into a state of seclusion. We don’t want to be anti-social before the game. Here’s a great demonstration of an Assistant Referee who is able to enjoy the pre-game activities and get into game mode before the match.
You can trust he was in game mode because he made no mistakes in the match and it’s clear to see his demeanour during the coin toss and mechanics later on.
My favourite way is to plan a relaxed trip. I often walk/bus to the field. When I drive, I ensure I have enough time to remove any possible stress. Traffic and a late arrival can be destructive on mental preparation. Don’t let that happen if at all possible.
I’ve also said this buzz word, mental preparation, several times but what do I really mean? I mean clearing the mind. The vast majority of referees that officiate games don’t referee football matches professionally and make a living off it. As a result, we have many other things on the mind which can include but may not be limited to family, work, day-to-day as well as long-term commitments. Everyone has problems/challenges in life which is natural. However, the best referee is one that does not allow these factors to influence his officiating performance in any way and is able to separate this.
Music is my next favourite way. I pack my iPod. Yes I know, who still uses an iPod especially one that is more than 6 years old! I select a mix of songs and play it on the way to the field. I do this even if I am working with a crew and car-pooling. It’s my pre-game ritual of sorts.
Mental preparation is important to players as it is to referees.
Here is David Luiz’s, the Brazilian defensive midfielder, own pre-game mix.
and Joe Fletcher, Canadian assistant referee.
I would share my own but it changes far too much for it to be static! It’s a complete mix. Check out one of my drives for more.
Remember. Focus before the game. It truly is the Game before the Game.