The Sports Psychology Blog
Today's Sports Psychology blog looks at the performance of referee Rob Styles in the Liverpool - Chelsea clash at Anfield.
Football: Rob Styles - Reset Thinking Under Pressure
Yesterday was not Rob Style's best day at the office. A contentious penalty decision. A muddled looking booking. Players jostling him. A referee on the verge of losing control.
After his mistaken penalty award to Chelsea, Styles probably had doubts in his mind. Did I make the right decision? Sub-consciously you can then start to make decisions to even things up. Atone for your mistake. Get the crowd off your back. Subtly let the players know you will sort this out. But this is not advisable. This pattern leads to the weakening of authority. It's all downhill from here on.
The moment a referee starts to have decision-doubts, he needs a personal process to reset his thinking. To break the pattern. For example, he can count backwards in his mind, from ten down to one. Ten, nine, eight etc. Slowly and steadily. This will cool and slow down his thinking. Ready to start again.
Or he can have a link to a state or feeling that he wants. For example a feeling of Coolness, Calmness and Clarity. A link is a simple, repeatable gesture, such as clicking your fingers, that connects you to the feeling you want to have. Instantly.
This needs preparation. You need to spend some time recalling past moments when you felt cool, calm and clear. When you have the imagery, and the other sensory information from these positive moments in the past, plus the feeling of coolness, calmness and clarity, you make a link. That is, a simple, easy-to-remember gesture. eg clicking your fingers, or holding your thumb and forefinger together. Then repeat over in your mind the words - Cool; Calm; Clear.
Thus, Imagery - Feeling - Link - Qualities. Repeat three times, building the clarity of imagery and other sensory information each time.
So, when your next at Anfield and the pressure is on, you simply make the link / gesture and connect to the feeling you want. Next day, enjoy the reports on how well you handled such a difficult game.