Sources of Stress Inside and Outside the Match in Football Referees
Stress has played a prominent role as a research topic in studies on refereeing. Nonetheless, there is little exploration of the difference between the sources of stress inside and outside a match. This study starts with this distinction to determine the most important factors and their relation with the level of experience. 128 football referees with a mean age of 26.02 (M = 26.02, SD = 5.14) participated in the study. They responded to a questionnaire about stressors inside and outside the match. The results show several situations inside the match which generate stress (having poor performance or getting injured) and outside the match (politics of the technical referee committee and combining refereeing with family life). The perceived stress was higher for sources outside than for sources inside the match. A negative association was found between the number of seasons of experience and the sources of stress inside the match. In contrast, no association was found between experience and sources of stress outside the match, which may indicate that handling this kind of stressor requires specific interventions that go beyond the accumulation of experience in refereeing. The importance that the referees attach to the outside stressors suggests the need to foster aspects which improve the relationships and trust between the committee and the referees (spaces of communication and exchange of opinions) as well as incorporating contents to the psychological training programs (time management skills).