Stop Thinking Too Much Will Solve Your Problems

I like young and enthusiastic referees. They want to be on the top! NOW! Even now it’s too late…

This passion leaves young people with no or very little patience. But that’s normal, so no worries, my Friend!

What you should consider is what it means to you on the court, though!

You want to be perfect, don’t you? What do you do when you make a mistake? Think about it. No, I mean you think about your mistake on the court even after the mistake is gone.

You would like to do the perfect mechanics, wouldn’t you? What do you do on the court? Focus on the mechanics. Where you have to go, when to do the cross-step, etc.

You want to make no mistake in the end, so you think about it when it comes to the last 2 minutes of the game. And when you start thinking about it, you condition your mind to make that mistake.

You hope to please the commissioners and supervisors, don’t you? So you think about what they think about your call, about how you look, how you signal, blah, blah, blah…

There are so many other things you can think about during a game. Your spouse, your children, your parents, your work, your studies, your dinner, your friends, the weather, the extra weight you carry, the last game, the last mistake, your partners’ last (bad) call, your injured ankle, your aching head, and so much more…

Your thinking goes long and your game suffers because your thoughts take you to the future or make you stuck in the past.

Crazy… right?!

It’s always better to think about mechanics or the game at hand, but these thoughts do only one thing for sure!

They distract you from what’s the most important; the present.

A good referee makes (good) decisions in a heartbeat. It needs focus. A lot of very concentrated attention on what’s going on right now.

Thinking too much drains your level of concentration.

What can you do?

Go out on your next game and watch yourself. Watch your thoughts. Notice what’s going on in your mind.

Notice when your mind wanders and when you realise that, celebrate! Most of the people will have the urge to blame themselves for losing focus, but you must cheer!


Because this is the most important step towards a sharp focus. Good concentration doesn’t mean you are focused 100% of the time. It means that you are fast noticing your mind wander, and rebalance very quickly.

After realising that you are out of focus, you only have to get back to the present.


Notice and comment what’s going on in your head. Talk to yourself positively and comment about the game. “Red is on defence, it’s the 2nd quarter, team fouls are 2-2.” If there is a break, watch your breath, notice what’s around you.

Gently drive your attention back to the present.

Then, the next time it happens, do the same. Build a habit of redirecting your focus. This is what you do when you meditate if you ever do it. Watch your breath, and when your mind wanders, you gently get back to your breath.

That’s on of the reasons why meditation is so beneficial for referees. It creates a habit of clearing your head (not thinking) and focusing only on one thing at a time.

When you learn

you basically teach your subconscious, and you need to consciously focus on what you want to learn. Think about driving a car. In the beginning, you needed to pay special attention even to the turn signal. And when you have the experience, you drive the car automatically. This is when you subconscious learns what to do.

This is “autopilot” in action.

So, you need to put conscious effort focusing on what you want to develop. But your conscious mind is not as powerful as your subconscious one, so you want to limit the workload for the conscious part.

When you want to do too much, you use a lot of precious resources of your conscious mind and you will definitely make mistakes. Even stupid ones that you normally never make.

This limited capacity of your conscious mind is the reason why experienced referees tell you to focus on only one or two things to improve every game. And this is why it takes so much time to build experience.

It takes time, so you’d better enjoy the road, my friend!

Most of the bad games happen because of a heavy load of thoughts. Now, remember you last game gone wrong.

What will you do differently next time?

Sometimes all you need is a clean mind to get into the flow of perfect concentration.

Show this post to the young referees who tend to overload their minds thinking too much.

Please share 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


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