RefSix

Dealing with anxiety

Declan

Active Member
Has anyone got any tips or solutions to deal with anxiety as a football referee? Recently my anxiety has become a problem again before games and although it's a mental health issue, I'm wondering if there are any football related solutions?
 

Big Cat

RefChat Addict
Level 6 Referee
Has anyone got any tips or solutions to deal with anxiety as a football referee? Recently my anxiety has become a problem again before games and although it's a mental health issue, I'm wondering if there are any football related solutions?
Although I quite 'like' the response from @Kes , I suffered a serious mental health episode around 12 years ago
I struggled on and off for quite a few years afterwards, but i'm pleased to report that I've manged to achieve virtually full remission. I'm not anxious before or during games, but I am occasionally 'visited by ghosts from the past' towards the end of the game when fatigue sets in
My advice would be to aim to achieve complete wellness, but to be realistic about how quickly this can be done and to seek help in doing so.
I use refereeing as a 'personal development plan'. It's kinda like the last step in my recovery, which is why I'm so driven by the challenge. In the words of @Kes , I've 'manned up', but it's taken me many years to get there
 
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Kes

I'll Decide ...
Level 5 Referee
Has anyone got any tips or solutions to deal with anxiety as a football referee? Recently my anxiety has become a problem again before games and although it's a mental health issue, I'm wondering if there are any football related solutions?
No real answer to that one in my opinion Declan.

Being a football referee is a choice we make because we want to be involved in it and presumably because we enjoy doing it.
If something about it is preventing you from enjoying it then you need to try and analyse what that is. If it were me, I'd either take a long break from it and seek professional help for my mental health issue or do the exact opposite and completely immerse myself in as many games (whether as an official or a spectator) as I could in order to counter any anxiety felt.
I learned a long time ago that the fear of something is nearly always worse than the actual something (if that makes sense). Good luck with it. :cool:
 

Viking

Q-1994, Re-qualified 2019 Worcestershire UK
Level 7 Referee
I find that thinking about the good games that I've done and the plaudits received puts me in a positive and confident frame of mind. I research where I'm going, look into the teams that are playing and expected results. Then I ensure my timings and process are spot on, so I am not rushed. Aim to get to the ground 45 mins before KO so I can walk the pitch, locate the toilets, chat to the coaches and just make sure all boxes are ticked in my routine. If I plan properly, I tend to feel confident and walk tall - and hopefully teams see that, It's the same tactic I use for sales meetings.
 

Big Cat

RefChat Addict
Level 6 Referee
Fundamental problem with anxiety is that you can't wish it away, because doing so will make it worse. The mind will pattern match, meaning that if you've had a bad experience in any given setting, that experience becomes exponentially more likely to repeat itself the more times it happens in that situation. You end up feeling anxious about feeling anxious and it's a real challenge to overcome. I also find that not drinking 10 pints of Abbot the night before helps a good deal ;)
 
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alexv

RefChat Addict
Level 7 Referee
Has anyone got any tips or solutions to deal with anxiety as a football referee? Recently my anxiety has become a problem again before games and although it's a mental health issue, I'm wondering if there are any football related solutions?
I don't have anxiety, but I get quite nervous (I'm not comparing my pre-match nerves to diagnosed anxiety) before most games. Obviously find help from professionals, but there are a few things you can do personally.
Try and prepare your kit bag the day before; it'll prevent you thinking you've forgotten something and that's one less thing on your mind.

Do your admin as soon as you can; that'll help you stay organised and again, it's one less thing to think about before your game.

Get there at the right time for you; before my games with a team of three in a ground, I get there at least an hour before; I have time to sort myself out, do team sheets, meet the club officials, warm up, etc. For Sunday league youth games when I'm on my own, I give myself a little less time; I find an hour is far too long. With 40/30 mins, I can do a pitch inspection, warm up and meet everyone. I've had games where I've got there far too early and I'm the first one there; that makes me more nervous, as I start to think things like 'what if the game's off" and just dwell on things when I'm on my own. If you prefer to always get there early, then do it every time.

The most important thing to calm my pre-match nerves is sticking with my routine. This just helps me focus on the game, rather than other distractions. It'll help you prepare and keeps you calm if you're doing the same thing before each game
 

one

RefChat Addict
Level 7 Referee
Has anyone got any tips or solutions to deal with anxiety as a football referee? Recently my anxiety has become a problem again before games and although it's a mental health issue, I'm wondering if there are any football related solutions?
I remember another thread here 2-3 years ago on the same topic. You may get some good advice here however I suggest seeing a profesionl to deal with it if you are serious about your refereeing.
 

Big Cat

RefChat Addict
Level 6 Referee
No real answer to that one in my opinion Declan.

Being a football referee is a choice we make because we want to be involved in it and presumably because we enjoy doing it.
If something about it is preventing you from enjoying it then you need to try and analyse what that is. If it were me, I'd either take a long break from it and seek professional help for my mental health issue or do the exact opposite and completely immerse myself in as many games (whether as an official or a spectator) as I could in order to counter any anxiety felt.
I learned a long time ago that the fear of something is nearly always worse than the actual something (if that makes sense). Good luck with it. :cool:
Wise counsel!
There is a key distinction here... are we talking about nervousness or clinical anxiety. Differentiating the two varies between individuals and the latter has many shades of grey. We'd all be qualified to talk about overcoming nerves; i doubt @Declan is expecting advice on illness
 

Darren83

New Member
Level 7 Referee
I have problems with anxiety ( to my annoyance) . I did 2 games this weekend u16 and OA. The u16s game was quite intense and the OA was one sided but with the usual expected pressure from players aimed at influencing decisions rather than dissent. I was mentored for both games and got positive feedback which was good of course and I felt I performed well.

I've found the anxiety is triggered after the games when I'm in the car or at home. Do any of you guys find this too and how do you deal with it ? 👊
 

Big Cat

RefChat Addict
Level 6 Referee
I've found the anxiety is triggered after the games when I'm in the car or at home.
Somewhat unusual. Anxiety associated with an activity is more commonly experienced before or during; rather than after. The latter is when one might expect to experience relief!
 

Gamespoiler

Member
Level 7 Referee
I don't think you'll solve this unless you find the reason for the anxiety. Our own life experiences and things that we are carrying inside of us, especially those things that are deep rooted that we don't know are there, affect how we react to other people and how we view certain situations, especially conflicts such as we all experience in one way or other at a football match. Discovering what is causing it is the first step of over coming it.
 

RobOda

RefChat Addict
Level 3 Referee
Try and prepare your kit bag the day before; it'll prevent you thinking you've forgotten something and that's one less thing on your mind.
Doesn't work for me.

I pack two of everything, kits, towels, pairs of boots etc.

I still get to my car and think I've forgotten something! And it doesn't pass until I'm at the ground and wearing the kit. :p
 

Sheffields Finest

Maybe I'm foolish, maybe I'm blind!
Level 7 Referee
When I saw the title I thought it was a Leeds or Citee thread!! ;)

In the Op, Maybe others have had similar experiences and can add replies but from my own point of view I tried to rise above them in knowledge in eventually experience. Like being the best teacher at school, you sit up and listen to what he / she had to say and are scared to mess about in their presence!! They were hopefully more anxious of me than I was of them....Then your job is half done!!
 

alexv

RefChat Addict
Level 7 Referee
Doesn't work for me.

I pack two of everything, kits, towels, pairs of boots etc.

I still get to my car and think I've forgotten something! And it doesn't pass until I'm at the ground and wearing the kit. :p
Trust me, I’m exactly the same. I’ll double check everything about 10 times and as soon as I’m in the car I’ll say something like ‘I hope I’ve got my boots’. My pre match worries are bad enough thinking I’ve forgotten to bring my whistle/coin/anything else out just before I lead out the teams...
 

RustyRef

Administrator
Staff member
I don't think I suffer from anxiety in the traditional medical sense, but I certainly always worry I've forgotten something. Not just in refereeing, but also things like checking I've got my passport 4 times, checking flight schedule on the way to the airport thinking I've got the wrong date, etc. And I certainly check my kit bag several times thinking I've missed something.

The latter probably stems from years ago when I went to a game straight from work. When to get changed to find I had no shorts even though I was sure I had packed them, and ended up refereeing the game in the home team's red shorts. Got to work the day after and my shorts were on my monitor with a note saying "did you miss these?" :). Seems it was revenge for me filling a colleague's golf umbrella with the paper circles from every hole punch machine I could find in the building the week before …!
 
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