OK, you blew a call. What are you going to do now?
2. Think about it for a while.
3. Forget about it and move on with the game.
Obviously, C is the correct answer, but that’s easier said than done. What’s the best way to put the error behind you and get back in the game?
“We use the three Rs for refocusing in athletics,” explained sports psychologist Michael Edger. “Recognize that your mind isn’t in the right place or that your head’s not in the game. Regroup and refocus: What do I need to do in the present moment to be doing my job or what do I need in the present moment to perform this task successfully? So move on to the next play. Recognize, regroup, refocus.
“Take a deep breath. … Think about the good call you made earlier in the game.”
Mark Zentz, a veteran NCAA Division I women’s college basketball official who worked the Final Four in 2013, likes to recall what a former supervisor once told him about blowing a call.
“He told me that even though you made a mistake, you can’t miss two in a row,” Zentz said. “If you’re looking to move up in the officiating ranks, that’s one thing they look for … how quickly you reset and go on to the next play. The quality officials can do that.
“I just try to have a short memory. You have to go on. You might say to yourself, ‘Don’t miss two.’ That’s what I do. If I think I missed a call, I’ll just say to myself, ‘Don’t miss two.’”
Jeff Cluff, supervisor of officials for the Utah High School Activities Association, says it’s OK to talk to yourself as well. In fact, he encourages it when circumstances require it.
“I talk to myself verbally (not out loud),” he said, “but I’m telling myself to refocus. ‘Let’s go, it’s another inning. I need to be my best.’
“Breathing exercises might help to calm your nerves. You have to practice getting back to your normal state of officiating. That’s just as important … the mental aspect. It might be something as small as looking at a partner for a nod, thinking about your kids at Disneyland, I don’t know, whatever it is that works.”
If Big Ten football referee Reggie Smith knows he just blew a call, he immediately likes to wipe the slate clean.
“I have a word I use to help me reset, sort of like doing a soft reboot on your computer,” Smith explained. “I use the word ‘veto’ to clear my mind, to wipe out everything from that last play. Using that trigger word helps me dig in and refocus on the job at hand.
“While it (the mistake) might linger for a play or two, I think when you’re conscious that you need to get back at it, the sooner you’re able to do that the better off you’re going to be able to recover.”
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