In Handling Failure/Adversity, Peak Performance Strategies

So the NFL referee strike goes on as we go into the fourth week of this season and the cries of “FOUL!” from both coaches and players about the performance of the replacement officials gets louder and louder. This week the behaviors of NE’s coach Bill Belichick and Baltimore’s coach John Narbaugh are both being investigated by the NFL along with the actions of Washington’s offensive coordinator, Kyle Shannahan. The NFL fined Denver’s coach John Fox $30,000 and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio $25,000 for arguing with the replacement officials last week! Players and coaches alike are ticked off at the refs for beiung incompetent, missing calls and calling things that aren’t there!

So there are a lot of issues here but the ONLY one I want to comment on is what you as an athlete need to do when the ump, ref, judges or game official is indeed making bad calls.

Bad or questionable calls are a “normal” part of many sports. When they happen, the challenge for the athlete is to make sure that he/she is able to maintain their composure and focus. The athlete needs to mentally stay away from thinking about, focusing on and reacting to the bad call. The instant that they allow themselves to get too caught up in what they consider to be a “wrong” call, they are finished, performance-wise!

The officiating, from an athlete’s perspective is a HUGE UNCONTROLLABLE! The refs’ calls are out of the athlete’s DIRECT control. When you as an athlete allow your focus to drift to any UNCONTROLLABLE, you’ll get yourself nervous, lose your confidence, and set yourself up to fail. As the action continues and you’re still upset about the call, you will be distracted from focusing on the important task at hand and, as a consequence, your performance will go down the proverbial tubes.

Your mental job here, is to know what the uncontrollables are, and then do the very best you can to stay away from them. When you find yourself focusing on or thinking about a bad call or any uncontrollable, then you need to be aware of it and immediately bring your focus back to something that you CAN control in the moment. The one thing that you can always learn to control is your reaction to the uncontrollables! And your reaction needs to be, “yup, that definitely sucks and let’s refocus on the task at hand!”

I certainly can understand why all of these NFL coaches and players are ticked off at the league and the replacement officials. The NFL needs to put their house in order and negotiate with the skilled refs to get them back to work. However, for athletes to allow their focus to continually drift to how rotten the officiating is, is a terrible, performance-disrupting waste of energy! Want to be a peak performer? Then you have to discipline yourself to keep your concentration on ONLY those things that you have DIRECT control of!


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