The Sports Psychology Blog
This Sports Psychology blog comes as Jamaican umpire Steve Bucknor is confirmed for duty in the third Australia-India test match.
Cricket: Steve Bucknor - Mental Strength
It has been confirmed that Steve Bucknor will officiate in the third Australia-India test match. Good. It creates an opportunity for the experienced Jamaican umpire to show his mental strength. Strength in overcoming the doubts expressed about his capability in Sydney.
A couple of unfortunate decisions and suddenly your professional world is under scrutiny. With little or no help from the hyper-competitive players, the umpire has to have complete confidence in his decision-making.
Which means his preparation has to be thorough. Being aware of all the psychological ploys the players are going to throw at you; collective appeals; anguished looks when said appeals are turned down; subtle asides and pointed remarks. Pressure designed to influence you. Influence your mind. Play on your emotions.
Then there is self-awareness. Of your physical, mental and emotional state of mind. Aware of any unmet needs that could be playing themselves out in you. Take for example, being away from home for Christmas. Living out of a suitcase in a hotel. What if you are missing your family? The grandchildren. Close friends. The sense of warmth and giving. And, you take that unmet need, the need for family, the need for warmth, out onto the pitch with you.
In a moment of psychological weakness, whose to say you won't uphold a dubious appeal from the home side. Why? In order to court their support. Be popular. Get an unmet need met. Not consciously of course. But all played out in the subtle labyrinths of the mind. It's the reason why football referees are sometimes known as 'homers'.
It takes a special mentality to officate at the highest level of sport. That, under the most intense pressure, the most intense scrutiny, you can back yourself to make the correct decisions. You will not be influenced by external pressure.
Lets hope that Steve Bucknor can demonstrate the very best of the umpiring art when Australia and India lock horns again. The game needs it.