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Elite Refereeing in Professional Soccer: A Case Study of Mental Skills Support

Mathers J & Brodie K (2011) Elite Refereeing in Professional Soccer: A Case Study of Mental Skills Support, Journal of Sport Psychology in Action, 2 (3), pp. 171-182.

Refereeing a high-profile soccer game requires a unique blend of sports-specific knowledge, physical abilities, and mental skills. While mental skills instruction has been seen as an integral element of performance enhancement in elite sport, the application of sport psychology intervention for referees and match officials is far less prominent. This case study briefly describes the levels of stress associated with refereeing elite soccer matches and the impact of stress on officiating performance and subsequent self-confidence of soccer referees. The work then outlines the program of mental skills intervention that was delivered to an elite soccer referee working within the Scottish professional soccer leagues. The program of mental skills embraced five stages: (1) Education; (2) Assessment/ profiling; (3) Mental skill learning; (4) Application of mental skills in context; and (5) Evaluation, and this article centers on the way in which each of these stages was carried out. The case study describes how the mental skills instruction program was associated with improved refereeing performance, and provides some tentative advice for sport psychology practitioners who may wish to provide consultancy services within the domain of sports officiating.

soccer refereeing; case study; mental skills

AuthorsMathers John, Brodie Karen
Publication date12/2011
Publication date online02/12/2011
PublisherTaylor and Francis
ISSN 2152-0704

Journal of Sport Psychology in Action: Volume 2, Issue 3

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