The Referees Light-Switch…

Referees are supposed to be unbiased, (not favoring either team, no make-up calls, etc.) However, like athletes, they also have an emotional light switch. Something I never noticed, before ONLY watching the refs during a MAC basketball game. 

In the final minutes of both the first and second half, the referees seemed to “dial in” and pick up the intensity of their responsibilities. This was apparent in their body language (they were more animated when signals calls), pace up and down the floor, and verbal language (they were louder when communicating to coaches and players). Their number of interactions- whether it was fouls called or explanations-also became more frequent and intense.

Bottom line: referees have a switch that they “flip” during the closing phases of each half and as a result increased (for the better and the worse) their impact on the game. 

The same “light switch” often happens to athletes. Often under pressure,  athletes “flip a switch.” The building intensity of the game makes them feel as if they need to suddenly change their approach. Sometimes this is evident by an athlete attempting to fill a role they normally wouldn’t, becoming quiet when they shouldn’t, or attempting plays they normally couldn’t. 

Success is built from consistency and preparation. There is no “light-switch” of success, so from start to finish it is important to remain consistent, so when you reach those “final intense minutes” of your sport, you will keep your head, while others are losing theirs. 

Want more info on Light-Switch Mentality? 

jakeAbout Author: Jake Cooper is an associate of DRB, former linebacker, and head of Sport for Peace program. He can be reached here.  or email at



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Dr. Rob Bell

Ahoy! I'm Dr. Rob Bell. Your Mental Toughness coach. Be The BEST at Getting BETTER. Will your Hinge connect?
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