Friday, 18 November 2011

Mind Games

Its not just sportsmen that are using sports psychologists, last night the Society had a presentation by Dr Raj Persaud on the psychology of officiating. It was an entraining and informative meeting but sadly Dr Raj didn't know enough about rugby to make it truly relevant to his audience. 

The most interesting to thing to come out of it was the concept that motivation drives perception, what we see will differ from others because our motivations are different. He illustrated this with a experiment with basketball players and a gorilla. By setting a skewed pre-condition he was able to demonstrate that many of us would miss the gorilla.

He was able to show us that we do see a different game to players, coaches and spectators because are motivation is to create a fair and safe game, whilst the other stakeholders are looking for something different, a win at all costs. When a player asks me' "did you see that ref?", I know that I didn't see the gorilla. Clearly, as referees, we need to keep as broad a focus as possible but we will never see the game in the same way players.

There were some other pointers to help us, the most important be the power of positive focus, when you need to do something well, concentrate on why it will go well rather than worrying what can go wrong. When you make a decision that may have been wrong don't dwell on it, reset the counter, focus on getting the next and every other decision right, each one is a independent event.

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