Referee Tips

Identify Your Why

Why do you ref? What is your reffing philosophy? What is your role on the field? Knowing these things can help you keep a level head in the heat of the moment and keep the integrity of the game intact.

Be Growth Minded

Seek growth opportunities to learn; about the game, about yourself, and about your role on the field. Mistakes happen; they are part of the game. Learn from each mistake to make you better the next time on the pitch.


Breathing is the easiest, simplest form of self-control. Focus on your breathing to calm down, energize, focus and refocus, take a minute, prepare to perform, regulate temperature, etc. Start with a slow, deep inhale, hold it, and then release it slowly. Repeat as necessary.

Identify Your Stress Tendencies

  • What are my stress triggers?
  • Do I get clammy hands?
  • Does my heart beat race?
  • Does my breathing get shallow and rapid?
  • Does my mind race?
  • What’s my body language like?
  • What’s my inner dialogue saying?
  • Do I feel stress in real time? Do I feel anticipatory stress? Do I feel both?
  • Do I have a quick trigger, or whistle in this case?
  • Do I snap back at players, coaches, or parents?

Knowing the answers to these questions, and what causes them, can help you identify stress early and address it in the moment.


After each game, ask yourself the following questions.

  • What went well today?
  • What could have gone better?
  • What did I learn?
  • What would I like to improve?
  • Was I able to stick to my philosophy?
  • What impact did I have on the game? Was it positive, negative or neutral?

It’s hard to make changes or adjustments if we are unaware of what needs changing or improvement.

Self-reflection builds self-awareness and encourages growth, and allows us to make the necessary adjustments to be the best we can in our role.

By Katie Lovallo, MA, Mind Fit Performance (