It’s Game Time. Your boss was an asshole this week, and the love of your life wants to spend more time with you. Your child cries again that you have to leave, and there are many other things floating in your mind. It’s an important game, so you try to forget everything. But you struggle. You keep asking yourself: “How could I empty my mind?”
The most important aspect of good officiating is focus. Period. You need to be unbiased, present at the moment. You should react to everything with equanimity. Perfect equanimity. It sounds boring, but you know what? Maybe it’s better to be bored than riding a roller coaster in concentration during the game.
You are exposed to a bunch of different impacts on the court. Your own mistakes are an important one of them, but there are players you like, you don’t, coaches with similar characteristics, crazy biased supporters and even your great calls. Each and every one of them – and maybe a lot more – force you out of sync during the game. You’d better be balanced and concentrated. As a very experienced sport psychologist says; the ideal mental state is relaxed alert mode.
What causes your mind wander?
Thoughts come and go all the time, and this is normal. The issue starts when you play the word association game in your head. The reaction is the problem.
If you learn to react to everything with equanimity, you can stay in the relaxed alert mode as long as you want to. It doesn’t mean you don’t need to change your body language or face mimic to deal more easily with certain situations. Of course, it’s sometimes better to put on the angry mask to show players that they’ve crossed the line. The point is that you should do it consciously, not out of your mind.
It takes practice and it’s worth it!
How can you practice it?
It’s easy. Or not? You decide, but you can definitely practice it with meditation.
Meditation is the foundation of your balanced mindset. Maybe some of you have already considered it being crucial, and maybe even tried to meditate, so you know what I’m talking about when I say; it’s really difficult.
In today’s multitasking world, when you check emails and facebook twice an hour, you can be easily distracted. Focusing on one thing is truly difficult for most of us. If you are introvert, you have God’s gift to be satisfied with your own world inside, and you find distraction there. If you are extrovert, like me, you subconsciously look for outside clues to entertain yourself, or so to say, to keep yourself busy.
Whether you like it or not, you may find yourself dealing with distractions that takes you out of the game. Good news: you can change it!
Meditation gives you the edge, and it’s a great skill for you to possess. Both as a referee and as a human being. You only need to build a habit on that. Meditate daily.
Build the habit of meditation
Leo Babauta at Zenhabits.net offers a powerful technique to build any habit. The essence of the wisdom is:
Do only a little of that habit every day.
Do 2 minutes of meditation every morning when you wake up. If you start your day with a silent meditation for only 2 minutes, you slowly but steadily build a habit of focused concentration on only one thing. The game.
What is with you all the time, no matter what happens around you? Your breath.
Sit down comfortably (do not lay down, because you might fall asleep) and watch your breath every day for 2 minutes. Start small, and grow big.
If you catch your mind wandering, that’s fine. You can see how thoughts can distract you. Smile, and keep directing your attention back to your breath. You can feel the cold air coming in and some warmer going out with your exhale. You don’t need to control your breath, just watch it.
It may seem difficult at start. Your mind is full of thoughts and distractions. Feel free to practice patiently and persistently. Believe me, that’s a solid gift to yourself and the games you referee. Also, if you want, increase the daily dose, and practice meditation for the rest of your life.
You will feel the difference in your efficiency on the days you meditate.
It gives you an edge at whatever you do.
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