How to Keep Your Emotions In Check After a Blown Call

December 2, 2012 | Chris Stankovich

Roddick Yelling at Umpire

There's a good chance you've been upset by an official's call at some point in your athletic career. Whether it's an umpire missing a strike, a basketball referee blowing a charge call, or a football official giving your team a bad ball marking on the field, one thing is certain: sports officials are far from perfect.

Unfortunately, some athletes allow a blown call to completely disrupt their focus, concentration, motivation and resiliency, resulting in poor play and a lack of mental toughness. However, you don't have to let a referee bring you down. Although it's easy to fall into this trap, there are a number of things you can do to keep your cool and quickly move past a bad or missed call. (Learn how to get mentally tough.)

So, if you happen to end up on the short end of a bad or missed call, remember these sport psychology tips. They can help you rebound from the situation and quickly get back to playing your best.

Officials are human

It's important to understand that sports officials are human, and that they are often required to make calls in less than a second. The speed and number of moving players make it extremely difficult to get every call correct, even for the most seasoned official.

One bad call is usually not a game breaker

Don't ever allow an official to take you off your game. Rarely does one bad call make or break a game, and there are usually plenty of opportunities throughout a contest to make up for an earlier call that went against you.

Understand the difference between bad and wrong calls

There is a difference between bad calls and wrong calls. A bad call is when a referee misses a call, like when an umpire calls a runner out at first when it is clear he beat the throw to the bag. A wrong call is when an official is unaware of or ignores a sports rule. Fortunately, wrong calls rarely happen. But when they do occur, simply inform your coach and let him or her take care of it. If it's a bad call, let it go and quickly turn your focus to the next play.

Focus on the things you control

Unfortunately, some athletes allow their emotions to get caught up in things over which they have zero control, like an official making a bad call. When you let things beyond your control take over your focus, you are helping the other team rather than your own. Instead, focus on your play and give your best effort to help your team win the game.

Bad calls go both ways

Bad calls usually go both ways in sports, and officials have been known to compensate for a bad call with a "makeup" call against the other team. Of course, you shouldn't rely on this happening, but it may be comforting to know that bad calls do usually even out over the course of a game or season.

The good news is most sports officials do an outstanding job. For those times when they do miss a call, it's important that you keep your emotions in check; and remember, the only play that's important in sports is the next play, not the last one.

Find more sport psychology tips here.

Chris Stankovich
- Chris Stankovich, Ph.D., is a licensed professional clinical counselor and founder of Advanced Human Performance Systems, a counseling and performance center based in Columbus, Ohio....
Chris Stankovich
- Chris Stankovich, Ph.D., is a licensed professional clinical counselor and founder of Advanced Human Performance Systems, a counseling and performance center based in Columbus, Ohio....

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