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Facing an angry coach, as Jim Sayre, Sunland, Calif., is doing here, is no fun. Incidents like those can break your spirit. Knowing how to recharge your emotional batteries is important for regaining your enjoyment of officiating. (Photo Credit: Bob Messina)

Ever had one of those nights when, for whatever reason, you’re off your game? Whether it’s because you were distracted by issues that have nothing to do with the game, the sloppiness of the play made it a difficult game to work or you just plain kicked a few calls, you’re not going to feel good after every game. Learning how to “get over it” is vital if you’re to avoid a repeat in your next assignment. Here are some tips for getting over those “That’s-a-game- I-want-to-forget” blues.

Don’t make excuses or blame others for your performance

Some officials who have a bad game may make excuses for why they didn’t do so well, instead of looking at themselves. Evaluate your performance and learn from your mistakes. Regardless of how good you may be, you won’t ever be perfect. The key is to learn from your mistakes and not to repeat them.

Focus on the bigger picture

You will officiate in many events. Don’t focus on that one game or play on which you were not at your best. Instead, realize you have many chances for redemption. Use your less-than-stellar performance as a means of determining what you need to improve on for future games. Try to have a more persistent attitude for your next event. Many officials who make mistakes in an important event tend to doubt themselves for a while. Don’t fall into that trap. Accept the fact that you had a misstep and that things will go differently the next time around. Determination is the key in getting over any bad performance.

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Use your imagination

Before your next assignment, visualize yourself nailing one tough call after another. That will better prepare you to perform for real when the time comes. Self-visualization is a great way to reduce stress while boosting your self-confidence.

Ask for help

There will be times when you know things went badly but you are not sure why. If so, talk to other officials who may be able to pinpoint what went wrong. Ask how they have faced a similar situation or how they might have reacted if it had been their game. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Even the best officials get advice from others.

Seek positive reinforcement

Keep a notebook with positive statements or sayings that make you feel good. Whenever you come across an inspirational quote or supportive anecdote, jot it down in your notebook. At halftime or after a game, pull out your notebook and read those statements. It may give you the spirit boost you need.

Don’t panic

Some officials start to doubt themselves when things don’t go well, fearing they have suddenly lost their officiating mojo. Don’t put pressure on yourself when things don’t go right. Go back to the basics and remember past successes. Those memories will get you through the tough times. Enjoy the fact you are an official. You will not be at your best all of the time and there will always be those days where you wish you stayed in bed. Don’t compare yourself to others who may be more successful than you. Focus on your own performance and develop your own personal goals in achieving your maximum performance.

Stanley Popovich is a freelance writer from Carnegie, Pa. He authored the book, A Layman’s Guide to Managing Fear Using Psychology, Christianity and Non-Resistant Methods.

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