5 Reasons To Be A Humble Referee

Steve Seibel said in an interview, “the more humble you are, the stronger you are perceived.”

It is not easy to see the real meaning of this sentence.

Especially when you are a young and very motivated referee. As a baby referee, you want to show that you are strong. You want to be understood and respected.

And when you are humble you are vulnerable, you may think.

Don’t confuse humility with weakness!

Only a strong referee can afford to be humble.

On top of that, there are some other reasons why it pays off in the long run.

Humility enforces empathy

It’s all in your mind. If you think of yourself as a service provider and not the emperor with a whistle in your mouth, your mind is set to understand the other human being. And this is key to conflict management, as another one of the greatest, Luigi Lamonica told us.

It’s usually not a problem if you make a mistake. Everybody makes mistakes. The trouble starts with trying to make white from the black. That’s not possible.

As you definitely know, the game we love is an emotional one. People are pissed off sometimes. And all they need is someone who understands them. This way they feel secure with you managing the game.

You are more likely to realise your mistakes

Confirmation bias plays a huge role in our lives. Nobody likes to be wrong. This is a solid reason to look for evidence that proves you right. And you are so smart that you will find them even if they are not present.

Late Darell Garretson was waiting for the perfect game all his life. I bet you do too, but you will never reach it. You don’t have to. It’s a nice goal to pursue, but only the enjoyment of the road to this goal is worth to be cared for.

Find joy in development.

Realise your mistakes and learn from them. Then move on and make sure you grow with the experience. I even encourage you to be grateful for your mistakes. Those will make you better as long as you admit them and learn from them.

You cooperate instead of fight

Many young referees think they have to win all the time on the court. They think of this as a way to be seen as a strong official.

We are not enemies. It’s not about I win you lose.

When you are on the court, you want everybody to be a winner.

And this can only be achieved through cooperation.

You will do your homework

We, as referees, have a tendency to play gods. On and off the court. If we consider ourselves the almighty, we know everything, right? In this case, we don’t have to study our ever changing game, we don’t have to scout the teams, we don’t have to watch our games, we don’t have to stay fit.

We know that we are good!

This cannot be further from the ideal state of mind.

Working as hard as you can off the court will result in rock-solid confidence on the court.

You need to do your homework to be the best you can be.

You will be more in the present

Seeing ourselves as a perfect referee is a great suggestion that we are already good enough to officiate the final of the Olympic Games.

The problem with this mindset is that it makes you think about the next level you want to reach. This is a common mistake and a deadly one. The irony is that you reach the next level much sooner if you don’t focus on the arrival itself, but on the road.

You are in the future when you focus on the level you want to reach.

But you want to be present.

Humility gives you the mindset to concentrate only on your next game, next quarter, next play.


We have a very important job to do. A lot depends on how we approach the game and all the participants.

Hence, we must not play gods! We are human with all the beauty of the virtuous cycle; making mistakes, learn from them, and grow.

Weak referees have to prove something all the time.

Only a strong referee can afford to be humble.

If you think so, share this post. If you have an opinion, or just want to say thanks, I appreciate you feedback in the comments section below.

Oh, one more thing… I want to say big thanks to Steve Seibel for the inspiration to write this article.

About Peter

Peter Papp is an enthusiastic supporter of open-minded referees, international basketball referee (FIBA) and NLP Master Practitioner. Peter is the founder of RefereeMindset.com.

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