Every umpire has made a bad call during a game, whether they will admit it or not. Also, many of us have had one of those games he or she would rather forget. Whether it was a kicked call, problems with a partner or crewmate, or argumentative players and coaches, it is not always easy to put those games in the rear-view mirror. What can we do? Here is a start:
• Quickly review why this happened (quickly and immediately) after the situation/argument
• Refocus and get back into the rhythm of the game as if nothing happened.
• Do a post-game review with the crew or yourself to determine, in detail, why it happened
• Work on the parts of your game which might need some improvement based on this experience
In the case of a botched call, recognizing it is the first step on the road to mental recovery. From that point on, it is about how you choose to react. Here are some ways to get back “into the zone.”
Get back into the rhythm of the game
Recovery involves shifting your focus:
• From what just happened
• To what is happening right now.
One way to do this is to use tunnel vision to tune out everything else and give 100% of your attention to the rest of the game. This requires a mindset of greater concentration, attention, and awareness.
A good umpire can tap into his/her ability to take direct control over their thoughts. When anxious or negative thoughts flow into your mind, you must quickly identify them and remove them before they can take root and lead you to spiral. Negative perceptions will create negative images in our mind, which will in turn perpetuate negative thought patterns. Conversely, positive perceptions will lead to positive images, which will lead to positive thoughts. It is the positive side of the coin, including your “self-talk”, that lead to mental toughness.
One of the traps many umpires get caught up in when things go wrong is to start overthinking and play the “blame game” with others or themselves. You have to let go of what happened and stop trying to figure things out while the game continues. This is the past and you must focus on the present so you can progress forward in the competition. Stop asking yourself “why” and any other questions which immediately pop into your head. Things happen and sometimes there is no “why’ so get over it, get back to your next position, and “play ball.”
Keep your emotions off your face. This will give you an advantage in that others cannot “read’ you. Coaches may try to manipulate you in terms of guiding the conversation, or asking more intense questions. Players and coaches will respond to your lead, which is all about facilitating and controlling the rest of the game.
Time to Readjust
Once the shell shock wears off, it is time to get the game back in order. Always keep things in proper perspective. Do not get caught in the heat of the moment when something goes wrong. Everyone makes mistakes and now we are back to mental toughness. Do your best to live in the present moment; it is the only thing you are in control at this moment. Thinking and rehashing past mistakes or outcomes in games will not change things or what has happened. Focus on the positives – what have you done well in the game up to that point, what are your recent successes and achievements.
Getting back in the zone takes practice and experiences that place you often in a baptism-by-fire learning curve. The mind learns success through mental rehearsal and you can set the game back on its proper course by using the techniques presented above.
Excerpts from Referee.com, September 20, 2018
If a bad call or other situation turns into a bad game, there is more work to be done. The longer we officiate, the higher our personal expectations become, making it difficult to accept criticism from anyone — from fans and participants to assigners and coordinators. As the level of scrutiny continues to increase, officials face the possibility of having one of “those games.”
From Referee.com, September 20, 2018
Every official has had a bad game he or she would rather forget. Whether it was a kicked call, problems with a partner or crewmate or argumentative players and coaches, it’s not always easy to put those games in the rear-view mirror; but we must make every effort to do that after we have recognized the issues and figured out why they happened. In the case of a botched call, recognizing it is the first step on the road to mental recovery. From that point on, it’s about how you choose to react.
The longer we officiate, the higher our personal expectations become, making it difficult to accept criticism from anyone — from fans and participants to assigners and coordinators. As the level of scrutiny continues to increase, officials face the possibility of having one of “those games.”
When high-level officials hit the banquet circuit, they often cite their blunders in humorous stories. Not as a bragging point or making light of those situations but illustrating no one is above mistakes. Or they recall the confrontation with a coach or player that wound up on a sports highlight show. Their story usually concludes with how they used that circumstance to improve and move on. It’s possible the tale will include a mention of steps taken and mentors’ advice.
Officials can’t and should not simply erase their memory, forgetting the bad game. Nor should it be carried around like a boulder. Instead, there are ways to turn chicken feathers into chicken salad.
Why did it happen?
To begin, make an honest self-assessment to determine if outside factors were at work. Did you bring something to the game that should have been left at home or work? Were you mentally ready? Did you misapply a rule or use incorrect mechanics? Those errors are fairly easy to correct, with study or with an attitude adjustment.
The film doesn’t lie
We’ve heard it hundreds of times: Viewing our games from various angles exposes what occurred in our areas of coverage.
If the film will be evaluated by a supervisor, observer, trainer or coordinator, take the time to watch it before that viewing. You may wish to view it alone, or with a trusted peer or mentor. Make a list of the plays that bring about questions, view them a few times and be critical of what you see. You’re not rehearsing a staunch defense in the case of a negative evaluation. You’re looking for solutions. It also shows enterprise if you speak up in advance of the review. Something along the lines of, “Hey, if you look at the play at the 7:03 mark, you’ll see I could have handled it better,” indicates you’re willing to admit errors.
Get any anger out of your system by blowing off some steam. Then go back and watch the film again with an eye toward how it could have been handled better.
Don’t deny, argue or place blame. Whether the evaluation is written or delivered in person, accept the critique and advice given. There is a very strong possibility the person across the table or on the other end of the email is also uneasy and wants the evaluation to be amenable. Most likely he or she will offer words of motivation and encouragement (don’t forget; he or she has likely been in your shoes at some point). Commit that you will take positive actions, state them and ask for advice and assistance, which demonstrates a positive attitude.
If the assessment is being done in person after the game, let yourself wind down before engaging with the observer. Your adrenalin will still be flowing. Take a breath and relax.
Sometimes you will have to take the heat
You know when you’ve kicked a call and there are times when you can correct that call. However, there are times when you can’t. Those are the times when you have to eat it and take the heat from the coach. How to handle these situations will go a long way to improving your game management skills. Be honest and answer his/her questions. Do your best not to eject him/her. Once they leave and you go back to your next starting position and you get a parting shot let it go. If you choose to re-engage then the next step will probably be an ejection. Remember, it was your call that started this exchange.
Reporting to your assigner
If you are asked for a face-to-face meeting, arrive at the meeting with a positive outlook. Don’t look for a confrontation. Control your facial expressions and posture. If you yank out a chair and cross your arms over your chest while playing stare down, the meeting will not go well. Don’t interrupt. Don’t resent the critique; absorb it and let it soak in.
You may disagree with a comment during the review. Stand up for yourself but remember that the judgment of the assigner is ultimately final. Know that there is a time when you need to pull in your horns. Ask questions politely for clarification. Bring your rulebook, manual or other training materials. If you’re unclear on a rule, interpretation or mechanic, talk it through with your coordinator. Take notes as needed. Remember, the assigner has already evaluated your performance. The next judgment will be your character, attitude, reaction and response.
After it’s all said and done, begin a physical activity, such as a long jog, walk or bicycle ride. Find a tranquil location to be alone for a personal pep talk. Review the positive steps that can be taken to avoid a repeat.
Recall why you originally became an official — your enjoyment of the sport, friendships, pressure-packed games and the enthusiasm of players and fans. Let go of the anger, hurt, frustration and resentment or you’ll have a repeat the next game.
Still feeling bad about yourself? Remember that working games is a privilege. We earn that opportunity by staying physically fit, studying rules and mechanics and exhibiting professional conduct. Bouncing back from a tough one is part of the package. Make the most of it.