The Inner Game of…NFL Referees?

Have you ever read a book that changes the way you see the world? I did this summer. It’s called The Inner Game of Tennis and it was required reading for one of my grad classes this fall. The forward was written by someone who might look familiar to many of you. A0cS40jCQAAmK9N.jpg-large
Gallwey was a tennis pro who watched players struggle more with the mental side of their tennis game than they physical side. He realized that once you got your brain cooperating, your body followed suit.

Now, I know nothing about tennis really. It’s just not my sport, but I understand every single concept talked about in this book and I see how it applies to everything you undertake in life. Gallwey identifies two parts of yourself: Self 1 and Self 2. Self 1 is the part of you that likes to tell you what to do, and how to do it, and comment on whether or not you did it well. Self 1 tends to get your emotions involved in making judgements. Self 2 is the part of yourself that is attempting to accomplish the task. Self 1 gets in the way of Self 2’s ability to get the task done.

The biggest impact this book had on me was the concept of nonjudgmental observation, which means observing what you are doing without judging how well you did it. That’s really, really hard to do. However, boy does it make a difference in your ability accomplish your goal and to see yourself clearly. I credit much of my triathlon success to being able to see my workouts as they were and not add emotional connections or negative labels to how well I did.

The example that he uses in the book that really stuck with me was the example of a referee. In a tennis match (or any sport for that matter), the referee is looking for errors; however, there is no emotional connection to the error made. There is no scolding or judging of the player who committed the error, and they don’t get emotionally involved in how the game is playing out. There is only the acknowledgment of the error and the status of the game. As my darling brother likes to say, “It is what it is.” Maybe that’s why he is the strongest person mentally that I know??

I was reminded of this book today because I read an article about Ed Hochuli. For the two of you reading this who don’t know who he is, he is an NFL referee. But not just any referee, the best and most famous. If you don’t know this face, you might recognize the biceps.
The ref’s have been on lockout from the NFL, but after two disastrous games this weekend with the replacement refs, the NFL and the NFLRA have miraculously come to terms. (Don’t tell me the Pats-Ravens and Seahawks-Packers game didn’t have anything to do with Mr. Goodell. I have eyes. I am intelligent. You cannot pull one over on me.)

One thing that people noticed about the replacement refs was that they seemed to get worse each week. As they got more time on the field, the games seemed to get more out of control and their judgement seemed to be progressively more clouded. The article references something called “stereotype threat.” Basically what it means is that everyone is expecting me to do poorly so I better not do poorly, but guess what? You end up doing poorly. They go on to talk about how it does diminish you cognitive abilities because you are consumed with thinking about how you better get it right.

This is textbook Self 1 and Self 2. It’s like this situation was written for Gallwey’s book. Did the replacement refs have the ability to be successful? Probably. They were given the information and they were somewhat experienced. Were they able to quiet Self 1 enough so they could let Self 2 do the job? Probably not. This also explains why they seemed to get worse with each game. The voice of the media and the fans became the very loud voice of Self 1 telling them that they couldn’t get the job done and that they were making mistakes everywhere. Cue their emotions! Then you can’t get anything objective done once your emotions start to take hold of your brain. Self 1 clouds your ability to do anything well.

This article talks about how much mental preparation Hochuli and all the other refs put into their game each week. This is the side that no one sees. These refs spend each week watching game tape, studying rules, and playing out game scenario. These things are essential to make sure that they are ready each week.

Hochuli says, “Every time I throw the flag, the player disagrees. What they say about whether they are right or wrong is meaningless to me.” Nonjudgmental observation. It is what it is no matter how strongly your emotions feel about it being something else. Hochuli and his fiery band of referees would never be able to do as well as they do without the mental capabilities, but more importantly, mental discipline that they practice each week.

Get the book. Read the book. Let it soak in. Then watch Ed Hochuli officiate this weekend. I’ve never been more appreciative of what those referees do and how well they do it. Welcome back. We’ve missed you.

Yahoo Article:

I Did It

Yep. I did it. I competed in a triathlon and I didn’t die. I actually had a great time and did pretty well for my first go at it. I am so proud of myself for setting a goal and sticking with it. I’m amazed that I set out to do this completely on my own and that I followed through. When I showed up on Saturday for the pre-race meetings, it was somewhat intimidating. There were groups of women and girls who had been training together and were all huddled together giggling and laughing together. I was by myself, which was fine, but a little scary. I was feeling so many mixed emotions on Saturday. I was so excited, but also nervous and terrified. I had no idea what to expect except what I had read in my book beforehand.

I spent the night in a hotel nearby so that I wouldn’t have to drive out to Sandy Hook early in the morning. Of course I woke up at three am and couldn’t fall back asleep, so I was running on four hours of sleep for my race. Good job Amanda. Rob drove me out to the race site and sent me on my way. I felt good about my transition spot and felt like I had plenty of space for all my things. Rob found his was to the transition area and snapped this shot before I headed out to the water. I’m ready to take on the world. 2012-09-09 06.43.57
One of the things that I really stressed out about was whether or not to wear my wetsuit. There was a tornado the day before and so the water was really quite warm, but I was still worried about the shock of getting into the water. I decided to wear it and wasn’t alone. I felt good about wearing it.

I was starting to feel really excited about what was about to happen and so I headed over to the water area. It wasn’t close to the transition area at all. And you had to walk over this nasty gravel that tore your feet apart. Good job Sandy Hook. I was already dreading having to head back to the transition after the swim. One of the first things that I saw when I got to the water were two medical stretchers. Yep. Just in case I died in the water. I guess thats reassuring, but still somewhat alarming. I moved on and focused on the water and the buoys that were in place.

Once the race started and I saw the Elite category women start their swim, I was ready. I knew this was going to be fun. I waited patiently and started towards the back of my wave.

Once I was in the water and got past the crowd of the first 100m, something took over and I became a water beast. I swam faster and more consistent than I ever have. I was passing people left and right. I was in a rhythm and nothing was going to stop me. When I hit the end I knew that I had swam at the top of my wave. I got out and started the treacherous trek back to the transition area.

Rob was there cheering me on. He’s the best ever.

The bike started off great. The first five miles felt pretty darn good. I wasn’t as fast as I wanted. but I was keeping a consistent pace. Then the last five miles happened. Once you made the loop back, there was the wind. It was blowing hard. In your face. Off the ocean. It was really hard. I had to peddle so hard just to keep going, forget about going fast. This slowed me down quite a bit. I was also starting to feel tired and I really didn’t want to push myself too hard. I knew that I still had coming and my goal was to not stop, so I held back a little.

Then came the run. Rob was there once again cheering me on. Here I go into the run. 2012-09-09 08.52.36
My legs didn’t feel like lead, which was so surprising and great. I was tired, but actually felt like I could do it. I’m a slow runner and this was no different in the race. I didn’t want to stop, so I keep a slow pace. This is the hardest part of the race for me, so I need to really up my run training. But, I’m still happy that I didn’t have to stop running.

I crossed the finish line and go my medal. I’m a winner.
2012-09-09 09.35.36

I received 939th place out of 1189 people. That means that there were 250 people slower than me. I’ll take it. Here were my official final times. I’m pretty proud of them. Especially the swim time. Race Times
I’m already plotting how to get faster and how to improve at my next triathlon. Yep. You heard it here first. My next triathlon. There will be another one. Soon. I’ll keep you posted as to when.

I encourage everyone out there reading this to set a goal for yourself that really challenges you but also makes you a better person in the process. There is no better feeling than accomplishment. Now that my first goal has been accomplished, I have set a whole other set of goals and will push to achieve them. I encourage you to do the same.

1235! Huzzah!

1235. That’s my race number. Yep. It’s happening. I’m competing in a triathlon in two days and I will be wearing the number 1235. Ahh!

It really started to hit me this morning when I realized that this was my last swim before my tri and that yesterday was my last run. Wow. I can’t believe it’s happened so fast.

As I’ve been tapering this week, I’ve noticed a lot of fatigue. I think that might have even been part of the reason I’ve for cold I’ve had. My body is probably trying to tell me something. REST YOU CRAZY LADY. Luckily I’m feeling much better and really ready for the race. About two weeks ago I felt like I was in tip top shape and I’ve been going ever since, albeit slower, so hopefully my body will respond well on Sunday. That’s all I want. I want to finish the race and I’d love it if I did it without having to stop in any portion. If I can swim, bike and run the whole time without having to take a break, I will consider myself really accomplished. However, I’m not going to deny myself a break if it’s what my body needs. There’s no shame in walking a portion of the run. It’s really about the training leading up to the race and about crossing the finish line.

My boyfriend will be there to take embarrassing pictures of me with snot flying out of my nose and my hair in a big frizz ball, so don’t worry. I won’t deny you those gems.

I'm boring

I’m falling behind on my blogging! School started today and while it feels good to get back into a routine, it’s daunting to think about the training that I have to work in this week. And then I think about blogging! I’m letting you all down. Sorry about that.

My triathlon is less than a week away and I’m so excited! I did my first swim in a wetsuit last weekend and it was weird! I felt like a seal. A weird looking lady seal, but a seal nonetheless. It was a pretty cool feeling. The buoyancy it gives you is crazy. I’m excited about getting another swim in this week in the suit.

I’ve also caught another cold. Grrr. I guess it’s all this working out and the seasons that are starting to change. I took an extra day off to let my body rest, but I have to get back at it tomorrow so that I’ll be ready on Sunday. I’m glad my tri is this week because it would be hard to balance school and such a strict training program. It’ll be nice to get into a new routine that has a little more flexibility.

That’s about all I have. I’m boring. You hate me. I know.