Background For football referees supervision of a match means significant mental burden. During the match they have to deal with many disputable moments. Their decisions can evoke negative emotions both in players and spectators. Referees often cannot cope with such a burden and leave the match depressed.1 The main goal of this research was to reveal some of the factors which contribute to such situations.
Methods Subjective psychological experiences and mental states of 26 football referees were evaluated. These referees supervise football competitions in one of the 14 regions of the Czech Republic.
For evaluating their subjective psychological experiences and states the standardised questionnaire SUPSO2 was used. The questionnaire was filled in twice: before the match and immediately after the match. Temperament of referees was evaluated using standardised Belov's temperament test.3 To determine and describe potential causes of changes in mental states of football referees caused by a completed match factor analysis was used.
Results Important factors which best reflect the dynamics of changes of subjective experiences and states of football referees were described. Most of the identified factors proved to be only consequences of the relationship among detected components of mental states assessed by the questionnaire SUPSO or were mainly related to the temperament of each referee. It was found, however, that one of these factors is strongly saturated by the referee's actual mental state before the match. This factor represents a significant agent altering referee's mental state during the given match.
Conclusions Mental state of football referees just before a match determines partially the ability to manage psychological burden connected to the supervised match. Pre-match preparation should therefore focus more on a regulation of the referees' actual mental state (“pre-start mental state”). If the referees do not use regulation techniques leading to the elimination of negative mental states, it can result in stagnation or decline in their performance level.
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