“It is said that despite its many glaring (and occasionally fatal) inaccuracies, the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy itself has outsold the Encyclopedia Galactica because it is slightly cheaper, and because it has the words “DON’T PANIC” in large, friendly letters on the cover.”
My third favorite science-fiction series is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. There are memorable characters, ridiculous situations and sage advice on how best to travel the galaxy so long as you know where your towel is. While the Guide may have a tremendous amount of information in it, the most valuable part is the cover:
I’m going to write the NFHS publication committee and see if next year’s lacrosse rulebook can have “DON’T PANIC” printed in large, friendly letters on the cover. This might be the single greatest piece of advice an official can be given.
Why is this a great piece of advice? Because there are ample opportunities to panic before, during and after a game.
I still get butterflies before each of my games, and I definitely get butterflies before big rivalry games and playoff games. I don’t panic though, being nervous just means that I care and want to do a good job. The trick is to not let the panic become debilitating. One great trick I learned to combat the pre-game butterflies is to imagine the butterflies in your gut flying in a figure-eight pattern. I’m sure any pattern will do, but that mental exercise tends to calm me down.
During games a good trick is to have a mantra that brings you back into the present moment. You could be worrying about the evaluator watching you, how bad it would be if you screw up, or what the coach wants to say to you on the next dead ball. None of that helps when the ball is live and you need to be present. When I find myself slipping I like to repeat, “focus, focus, focus, have fun.” That short phrase always brings me back to the present moment.
After a game it is important to talk to someone. I have a few officiating friends and we call each other after every game and talk about the good and bad things that we did. This helps to prevent panic if you screwed something up because your friends will let you vent and give their support.
Remember, at the end of the day it is just a game. Make the calls as you see them and Don’t Panic.