The following article was written for WHISTLE STOP Newsletter published by AYSO.
Focus is a common topic, not only in sports, but also in life. The key is to do your best to stay focused on the task at hand, remain in the moment, and redirect your mind back to that task at hand when it starts to wander.
Many common causes that can contribute to the loss of focus are known as internal and external distractions. Internal distractions can be things such as thoughts, heart rate, feelings, and/or emotions. External distractions can be things like fans, coaches, players, or weather. It's important to take note on what causes you to lose focus so it can be addressed on the fly.
Below are a few tips to help you focus or refocus during a game:
Pre-game walk through. In your pre game prep, walk the field and identify a place on or around that field that can become your refocusing go to that day. For example, one of the corner flags, a tree behind one of the goals, or even the whistle in your hand. Commit to these visuals as the thing that will bring your focus back to the task at hand when you need it.
Work together with your crew. Before the game, get together and chat with your fellow referees about your game plan and preferences. Being on the same page can help you stay focused on your role that day.
Focus cue word. Before you even step on the field, identify a cue word or phrase that can help redirect your focus. For example, something as simple as "focus" or something like "here and now" can help trigger you to focus on what you want and when you need it.
Breathe. Sounds simple, but sometimes a few deep breaths can trigger you back to focusing on the moment. Breathing can help you relax between plays (stoppages, half time, etc) and give you the opportunity to check your surroundings. Pairing your breathing with you cue word or phrase can really make a big difference.
Stay in the moment. Your job is to facilitate the rules and integrity of the game and the safety of the players. Because making calls are part of your role, own the ones you make. Dwelling on past calls keep you stuck in past moments and unable to be present in the now. Make a call, own it, move on. Leave it in the past so it doesn't influence your present and future.
Katie (McKee) Lovallo
Hey! I'm Katie, and I specialize in Mental Performance. I believe greatly in mindset and the role it plays in life.