Things don’t always go as planned, especially for soccer referees. There’s a lot to keep track of on the field, not much time to do it in, and many outside factors at play. Sometimes an unexpected situation shows up and you end up making a mistake in calling it: when this happens early on, it becomes a challenge that you struggle against for the rest of the match.

Officiating a soccer game is hard even when everything works out fine. When you make a mistake or something challenging happens, especially if you can’t make up for it right away, this can cause stress. Everyone handles stress differently, and while there are opportunities later on to fix mistakes or learn from them, you need to learn how to overcome the anxiety, fear, frustration, and other emotions in the moment in order to effectively referee. Here are some tips to help you stay calm under pressure

Know How You Respond to Pressure

Part of knowing how to handle challenges is knowing how you respond to them. What situations cause you to panic or lose your temper? Can you trace your anxiety to certain people or situations? How do you respond to these situations? If your response isn’t helpful, can you make it helpful? Being able to anticipate how you feel will help you have a plan in place for when something unexpected happens and threatens to throw you off your game.

Give Yourself Space to Think

It might not always be possible to remove yourself from the situation, but if you can give yourself a few moments to think during a break in the action you should use that time effectively. Carefully consider what you’re going to do moving forward and try to get to the root of your pressure. Why are you feeling this way? Is this pressure coming from you? What do you want to happen? What is relevant to your interests right now, and what can you set aside until the game is over?

Break the Problem Down

As a soccer referee, you know from your training that you’re supposed to pay attention to details and find the opportunities to make calls and move forward. Make an effort to pay extra attention to details like your behavior, other people’s behavior, and the circumstances around you instead of the mistakes you’ve made. Once you’ve pinpointed these details, you can use them to break your challenge down into smaller, more manageable parts instead of looking at it as a giant problem to solve all at once.

Use Positive Self-Talk

Talking yourself through a situation calmly can help you make better decisions. Use language that empowers you. Convince yourself that you can handle the challenge and that you’re calm and focused. Avoid unhelpful or negative thoughts by keeping your mind and calming mantra on yourself and what you can control.

Make Mindfulness a Part of Your Life

Build calmness into your daily routine so that it’s easier to keep your head in heated competitions. Take some time to relax and practice breath control techniques so that you can calm down no matter where you are. Simplify your life, eat the right food, stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, and reach out for support if you need it. Practicing good habits before pressure sets in will help you remain calm and stable when it does happen, and you’ll be a more effective soccer referee as a result.

ArbiterSports Can Help You Face Challenges

Staying calm under pressure leads to better health and more effective officiating, and preparedness is one of the keys to being relaxed enough to overcome officiating challenges. For the soccer referee who has enough on their plate, the ArbiterSports technology suite can help you keep everything as organized as possible. From training to communications to scheduling to payday, we have something you can use to make your life as an official easier. For more information about any of our resources for game officials, contact us at 800.576.2799 or online at