Referees, Confidence and Arrogance

To understand more about refereeing I decided to put my money where my mouth was and become a qualified official.  I enjoyed every minute of the training and meeting not only my fellow trainees but my assessors too.  Their experience was evident in every action they performed and every word they said.  I remember one piece of advice with great clarity: “Whether you are positively right or positively wrong, be positive.”  The importance of being positive and ‘selling a decision’ is undervalued by those outside refereeing circles.  The ability to demonstrate to the players, coaches and spectators that the officials, as a team, have come to the right decision has even caused the IFAB to review the use of VAR for the 2020/21 season; allowing referees to use the pitch side monitor even if a decision has been made to help convince players that the correct outcome has occurred.  It inspires trustworthiness, integrity and something that referees have always been aware of the importance of Confidence.

Let us be clear to begin with what we mean by confidence: it is not a trait.  We often believe that someone ‘either has it or they don’t’.  At face value, this is comforting for those who are seen to ‘have it’.  It suggests they are great leaders.  That they are made of a robust quality, unshakeable in all circumstances.   It’s an attractive proposition, but a flawed one.  We are all human beings.

Stuart Carrington
Stuart Carrington

Stuart Carrington is a lecturer in Sports Coaching Science at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, London. He is the author of Blowing the Whistle: The Psychology of Football Refereeing which is available here

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