When you make a "bad" call

Moving Forward From a Bad Call

It happens to many of us: you make a bad call that ends up throwing off the game. Especially in the game officiating world, where many players and passions are at work, mistakes can feel like a big deal. Even though we know that we can’t change what’s happened in the past, mistakes can leave us lying awake at night wondering what we could have done differently. The key is to learn how to move forward and stop reliving these bad calls so that you can go on to make better ones. Your mindset is the difference between developing as a game official and fixating on these bad experiences.

Acknowledge Weaknesses, but Move On

Really looking at your weaknesses is an invaluable teaching tool, even if it hurts to admit that you made a mistake. Keep in mind that everyone makes mistakes, and that it won’t help you to dwell on a bad call: instead of replaying what you did in your head, imagine doing it differently in the future. Think about the athletes on the court. When one of them falls down or makes a mistake, they get up and get back into the moment. They, their peers, and their coaches stress what to do in the future instead of what just happened. Take some advice from them: don’t beat yourself up over mistakes, and get back up as soon as you can.

Look at What’s in Your Control

What’s happened is done. It can be hard to stop thinking about mistakes, but it’s necessary to do so in order to move forward. While you can’t change what’s happened in the past, one mistake in the past doesn’t mean that your future is jeopardized. There are no guarantees, even if you made a big mistake on the court: it’s a matter of moving forward and actively striving to do better in the future. The clock isn’t going to stop, so you might as well keep going and do better on what’s ahead of you than fixating on the replays.

Reshape Your Thinking

Changing the way you think and admitting that you can do better can be challenging, but you wouldn’t be a sports official if you didn’t like a challenge every once in a while. Taking responsibility for the mistake that you made isn’t the same thing as dwelling on it, and you can do yourself and your future games a lot of good by admitting to mistakes, accepting any consequences that result from them, and promising yourself and others that you’ll do better in the future. What you need to do is look for opportunities. Clearing out older mistakes and building a solid foundation for how you’ll handle a call or a game in the future can help you see openings that come your way and go for them. Think of a missed call or a stumble on a rule application on the court as a blessing in disguise and change in perspective, and keep your eyes open for ways to improve.

Accepting your mistakes and using them to learn from is a difficult thing to do, but you’ll become a stronger referee for it. Knowing the rules of your game can help you feel more confident and, even if you do make a mistake, give you a framework for moving forward from it. Keeping your rules knowledge fresh and taking care of your career off the court, will be something that can make your life as a official easier.

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