Confidence or Arrogance – by Pat McNally

Posted by SCRRS Website Committee on April 9th, 2010

By Pat McNally

Whether I am training a new referee or working with an experienced referee, the question I find myself most often asking is, “Do they know the difference between confidence and arrogance?”

This is a defining quality of every match official and can be the clearest indicator of whether or not they find success on the pitch.

An arrogant attitude has limited many referees and held them back in their development and appointments, however, everyone possesses the ability to change.

Referees can learn to recognize the difference between the two characteristics and make the necessary changes to their behavior.

Self-confidence and a healthy ego are necessary to become a successful referee. To withstand the rigors and stress of refereeing takes a strong-willed individual.

Referees need to believe that they can keep their wits about them in stressful situations, and have the confidence and patience to gain the necessary experience needed to improve. By keeping an open mind and knowing that you can always do better (no one is perfect, except for your mother), can give referees time to grow into their roles and learn to deflect unfair and uninformed criticism.

As the world philosopher WC Fields once said, “It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.”

Referees need to understand that everybody is a complete package of strengths and weaknesses and that they need to remain humble in both. Accomplished referees find the root of their confidence in accepting who they are, good and bad, which allows them to handle faults with grace and avoid further compacting their areas of weakness with arrogance.

By working hard on preparing well for each and every match, a referee can be confident that they have done all they can do.

Confident referees are open-minded and approachable, which allows them to work well with others. They are good listeners who realize there can be more than one solution to a problem or situation.

Confidence can allow referees to step back and see the big picture, what referees are trying to achieve overall in developing as a group, and not be small-minded and see everything in terms of “What about me?”

Arrogance is usually a defense mechanism in response to shortcomings (perceived or real) that an insecure referee may have.

Instead of accepting comments and qualified criticism to improve their skills, referees resist any constructive feedback, and argue that their critics are wrong.

This results in building up walls and isolating the individual referee from players, coaches and their fellow referees. This isolation can also result in a referee looking down on others and think of oneself above all others, that normal rules don’t apply to them.

If somebody is trying to impress others by constantly trumpeting their confidence and overestimating their abilities, they have clearly crossed the line into arrogance. Arrogance has a tendency to inflate a referee’s ego and lull them into a false sense of competence.

An arrogant referee always thinks of his or her appointments in the context of themselves (How come I’m not doing the final?), and doesn’t properly prepare mentally and physically for every game because they are saving themselves for the “big match”.

The difference between confidence and arrogance is an important one and everybody must be cognizant of it because arrogance is the enemy of every referee.

Remember that confidence comes from not always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.
Realize that it is more important to spend your time and energy on accomplishing your goals rather than boasting about your success.

Referee Advice

Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand. — Chinese Proverb

Add your favorite referee advice to our list - email us