Building Concentration


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A presentation to the 2009 ABOA Fall Clinic by Warren Poncsak.

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  • Athletes who are “in the zone” are in the Ideal Performance State (IPS) or Individual Zones of Optimal Functioning (IZOF). Understandingof emotional patterns such as anxiety, anger, and joy, as well as their impact on individual performance.
  • Team work is the key. The pregame should be for the crew, not the individual. If you need time during pregame then it should be scheduled or agreed upon prior to the game.
  • Most distractions occur prior to the game. Make sure that you are prepared and get to the venue early enough to minimize distractions such as finding the locker room, going to the bathroom, getting treatment, finding water, …..
  • It is important to review the things you will be working on for the game. Let the crew know.
  • Ask yourself: What is the most important thing I must do now? What is best for the game? What is best for the crew?
  • Every game it is not the fact that you make a mistake or want a call back, BUT how you recover from that situation. It is human to make a mistake but it is essential to try to not make that mistake again. What is the most important thing to do now?
  • It is imperative that you practice good habits in ALL games you referee. If you cut corners in games it is impossible to turn on the switch to reach the IPS. The more you practice good habits the easier they are achieved.
  • Be a leader within the crew to bring partners back in the game. Help out when others are struggling and the best way is to do it in a positive manner. Let’s get the next call crew! Finish strong! Great call partner!
  • Excellent referees do not need validation from fans and coaches for their work. This is not the correct source for this information. If you are looking for validation from these sources you will be disappointed.
  • It is especially important to talk about the future near the end of the game. It is not a good idea to talk about a mistake from five minutes ago when there is less than a minute left in a tie ball game! Take care of what is in front of you, not what is behind you.
  • You need to find times in games to let the “air out” and relax. You cannot be totally amped for a full game, this is counter productive. On the other hand it is not a good idea to be “asleep at the wheel” when the game needs your focus. Find your spots.
  • Example is to be ready after time outs. Teams usually use this to change tactics or intensity. Identify streaks and tempo changes while in the game. Identify substitutions and match ups. Recognize lizards. Excellent referees notice this and react immediately without a crew time out. Communicating this to your partners in an efficient manner is critical. Eye contact can say a lot or develop non verbal communication to accomplish this goal.
  • It is just as important to know what is “not your job” as it is to know what you are expected to do.
  • When watching video, identify if there is a pattern where mistakes “beget” mistakes. Adjust accordingly.
  • Building Concentration

    1. 1. ABOA Clinic<br />1<br />Building concentration<br />Know your own style<br />
    2. 2. ABOA Clinic<br />2<br />Know your own style<br />It is important that each official prepares a concentration routine that is both effective and comfortable.<br />Some officials prefer a routine in total isolation, others prefer a routine that interacts with others.<br />Officials should develop a routine and style (ritual) that they can go to when necessary.<br />Focus and intensity are skills that require repetition in order to become habitual.<br />
    3. 3. ABOA Clinic<br />3<br />Know your own style<br />Some mental habits help officials deal with stress situations when their concentration could waver.<br />The ideal performance state is often described as being automatic (habitual through experience).<br />Officials simply release, with confidence, the physical and mental habits established in training and preparation for games, week after week.<br />
    4. 4. ABOA Clinic<br />4<br />Develop a transition zone<br />Officials come to both training sessions and games from differing home backgrounds and lifestyles.<br />They need to switch onto the focus and intensity required for officiating.<br />When they come to the game, they should cease to exist as the individual from their background and lifestyle and concentrate on performing as a member of a harmonious team.<br />
    5. 5. ABOA Clinic<br />5<br />Set goals<br />It is important that officials keep at the front of their minds, what they want from training sessions and games.<br />A clear set of objectives enables officials to :<br />Focus on priorities.<br />Begin to eliminate distractions.<br />Start to create the discipline and intensity required for the impending game.<br />
    6. 6. ABOA Clinic<br />6<br />Set goals continued……<br />Although officials may create their own set of objectives to help them improve concentration, Instructors/mentors can help by giving each training session a clear purpose and each game an identifiable goal. This will assist officials in building and developing concentration routines.<br />
    7. 7. ABOA Clinic<br />7<br />Relax and conserve energy<br />Maintaining concentration causes fatigue, yet officials must come to the game with maximum energy.<br />In Canada West games, officials are required to be at the game venue one hour before tip-off.<br />In local games, most officials arrive at the game directly from work or home and have only 15 minutes to prepare.<br />Officials tend to be disciplined in work habits but not so about relaxation and mental preparation.<br />
    8. 8. ABOA Clinic<br />8<br />Always being prepared<br />Officials building concentration routines need to know what is expected of them in a game.<br />That is why the pre-game conference is so important, as it enables each official to focus on priorities and prepare a “solution bank”.<br />The “solution bank” contains effective responses to any circumstances that may arise in the game.<br />Expect the unexpected, but prepare to deal with it.<br />
    9. 9. ABOA Clinic<br />9<br />Focus and intensity<br />Know your job. Each official should agree during the pre-game how to cooperate and perform.<br />Understand the roles and responsibilities of the other participants. (players, coaches, table-officials).<br />Know your colleagues, their strengths and weaknesses, identifying priorities for concentration.<br />Always have a pre-game conference.<br />
    10. 10. ABOA Clinic<br />10<br />Pre-game conference<br />The pre-game conference will have provided mental and physical exercise for each official by communicating where and when to apply focus and intensity (“on ball” and “off ball”).<br />Have a game plan. If officials are prepared with a game plan for coping with all eventualities, they will have a framework for building their own concentration.<br />Officials may visualise the game, bringing a reality forward from their minds and preparing a strategy for building personal concentration.<br />
    11. 11. ABOA Clinic<br />11<br />Control your state of arousal<br />Officials must learn to check and regulate their state of arousal.<br /> Too much and they may be out of control emotionally wasting energy, or too little and they may not be able to produce the required intensity of concentration and effort.<br />Depending on their state of mind, officials may need to:<br />
    12. 12. ABOA Clinic<br />12<br />Control your state of arousal<br />Psych themselves up with physical activation, high-energy thinking, self-talk, motivational music or videos etc.<br />Or<br />Calm themselves down by slow rhythmic breathing slowing the pace, performing relaxation exercises, smiling etc.<br />
    13. 13. ABOA Clinic<br />13<br />Concentrating on the game<br />Many things happen in basketball that can destroy concentration.<br />This will NOT occur, however, if the official has strong mental discipline and can control his/her thoughts in moments of crisis.<br />Several tools can help the official develop the mental discipline of thought control during games.<br />
    14. 14. ABOA Clinic<br />14<br />Managing anxiety<br />Every official feels anxiety, but successful officials learn how to manage it. <br />When anxiety strikes during a game, often after a mistake or highly contested decision, a useful recovery process is:<br />Recover breathing control.<br />Ease tension out of the body.<br />Talk yourself back into the positive.<br />Let the fear go.<br />Review your goals and reactive yourself.<br />
    15. 15. ABOA Clinic<br />15<br />Develop performance routines<br />The bigger the game, the more important good performance routines will be.<br />If officials have paid the price over years of practice, they will have a good memory bank of performance routines to deal with any situation.<br />All officials , irrespective of age and/or experience need a performance routine.<br />Performing automatically produces a no-think situation, the ultimate thought control.<br />
    16. 16. ABOA Clinic<br />16<br />Using performance cues<br />Officials will occasionally suffer mental lapses during a game, especially when fatigued and will often use self talk or quick physical actions to shake themselves back into focus.<br />Co-officials often do this for each other with verbal communication that urges better concentration and effort during key moments of the game.<br />
    17. 17. ABOA Clinic<br />17<br />Controlling distractions<br />Loss of concentration in games is often due to a lack of mental discipline in dealing with distractions.<br />Many likely distractions can be anticipated and prepared for.<br />Officials who are well prepared can shut out the taunting of vociferous fans at certain venues.<br />Officials should always focus on those elements of the game that they CAN control, rather than those they CANNOT. e.g. spectators, electronics.<br />
    18. 18. ABOA Clinic<br />18<br />Staying in the “NOW”<br />Total focus means being locked into the “here and now”, but officials may lapse mentally because of anxiety or guilt about an earlier mistake or decision. <br />Going to the past or even to the future, because the mind anticipates an eventual outcome, should be avoided at all times.<br />Focus on the PROCESS not the OUTCOME; by taking care of the present, concentrating on each situation as it unfolds, the outcome will take care of itself.<br />
    19. 19. ABOA Clinic<br />19<br />Beating fatigue<br />The greatest enemy of concentration is fatigue; mental, physical or both.<br />Officials must work constantly on their fitness and understand how to “pace” a game in order to conserve physical and mental energy.<br />To concentrate efficiently, officials must maintain awareness and recognise game situations, when they switch between total focus, semi-focus and relaxed focus.<br />
    20. 20. ABOA Clinic<br />20<br />Defining moments<br />A basketball is rhythmic in flow, each team having periods of giving and receiving pressure, punctuated by sudden movements that can define the outcome of the game.<br />Officials must learn to anticipate these moments when possible and be totally focused and prepared for dealing with them.<br />Many coaches attempt to use officials’ mistakes as defining moments.<br />
    21. 21. ABOA Clinic<br />21<br />Defining moments…e.g.<br />Opening toss on the jump ball to start a game.<br />The first foul of the game.<br />The first basket with a bonus shot. (shooting foul).<br />Reactions after an obvious mistake.<br />Recovering after a prolonged interruption of the game.<br />Responding after a technical/unsportsmanlike foul.<br />Goaltending call that is made/not made.<br />Charge/Block call in the last minute or first min.<br />Last shot of the game (clock/signal error).<br />
    22. 22. ABOA Clinic<br />22<br />Instruction for concentration<br />Know where and when to pay attention.<br />Know what information to select and to ignore.<br />These are essential skills in such a fast moving and complex game.<br />Good habits will protect officials under pressure.<br />Routines and performance must be reviewed after every game throughout the season.<br />There can be no room for complacency by any official, even the most experienced.<br />
    23. 23. ABOA Clinic<br />23<br />Guidelines for instructors/mentors<br />Ensure officials maintain good fitness levels to counteract fatigue.<br />Treat officials as individuals and learn their particular concentration styles.<br />Reinforce concentration on the PROCESS not the OUTCOME.<br />Make training and preparation relevant.<br />Identify concentration lapses using video analysis.<br />Give each official personal game plans.<br />Learn how to regulate arousal levels.<br />
    24. 24. ABOA Clinic<br />24<br />Summary<br />Attitudes and performances are based upon levels of concentration, confidence and composure.<br />Concentration is a skill that officials can learn.<br />Through regular practice they can develop it into a habit that minimizes lapses in focus, often making the difference in big games.<br />Officials must learn HOW, WHEN and WHERE in a game, to switch onto total focus and intensity and also switch onto relaxed but focused attention.<br />
    25. 25. ABOA Clinic<br />25<br />ABOA Clinic 2009<br />Have a Great Season!!<br />