The key to success

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As my sons progressed through junior club football, I was the dad that always volunteered to referee when needed…On muddy park pitches in Stockport, this was not uncommon!

As the seasons progressed, it seemed natural to attend an FA Refereeing course, qualify and wear the black outfit with Cheshire FA badge. I always like a challenge, to strive to be the best version of me that I could be, to try to be the perfect referee and getting every decision right.

Surely that’s what we all aim for….Perfection and under pressure managing twenty two testosterone fuelled youths not forgetting their parents on the side lines. I was lucky, I had a mentor that I could talk to about decisions that I had made over the weekend: Trevor Massey, a then Premiership Linesman and with an FA Cup final to his name.

I would get a call by the Thursday night to tell me where I was refereeing. That’s when I started.

I would start to picture myself walking onto the pitch, inspecting the nets, a light warm up, the shrill call of the whistle for the captains to join me in the centre circle…Handshakes, choosing my words to encourage the captains and through them their teams to play to their best but within the spirit of the game.

I pictured the smiles as I engaged with the players, as I was appreciated for the decisions made under pressure. The respect for a referee that was calling it right…Until the final whistle, when the players would approach me with hands held out…”Great game ref”. The more I pictured it, the more it happened.
But then one day, it all changed.

It was a normal week, no call to referee, enough referees for the games…A weekend off. A chance to watch my lads playing…I switched off, no refereeing for me on Sunday!

But that all changed…Some two minutes before kick-off and no referee. The Managers discussed and they had the perfect solution. I was stood on the touchline and my kit was in the car. A mad dash to change, referees outfit on and a race back to the pitch. Barely time for any pre-match preparation, straight to the centre circle, a blow on the whistle and the game is under way…But this was different, the game was passing me by, I was in a different zone, “great call ref” became “what’s going on ref”. It was a different me refereeing today.

But what was different…It was still me refereeing?
I was unprepared, I had not mentally prepared, my routine of visualisation, and of picturing my success was missing. Suddenly, I was losing the game.

I do self analyse, and while I was not poor, I was a long way off my best.
The difference…VISUALISATION.

No Thursday call, no mental preparation, no visualisation. I could not create the picture quickly enough in my own mind of me, my success and how well I was going to referee.

It was the biggest example in my life of why visualisation, is one of the most powerful tools in creating your own success.

“The clearer you are when visualizing your dreams, the brighter the spotlight will be to lead you on the right path.”
Gail Lynne Goodwin