There are mainly two reasons why players can get irritated during a game: having either a lousy or a very good referee. They sometimes hope for the first so they can air their daily frustrations, but pray for the latter in order to fully focus on their own performance.
The good referee sometimes wonders why he is criticized from scratch. It can get him totally out of his balance sometimes. Even when he recognizes the small nasty fouls and clearly shows he can’t be fooled. Especially when he is in great condition, concentrated on each game no matter the league level, and equal and fair in his decisions.
I tell myself often I should ignore players’ comments, knowing I’m a good ref. But last weekend I got the official word from a player: sorry ref, you are just doing a very good ref job. We are getting irritated because you figured us out, recognizing the little fouls which other refs just let go. Please accept our apologies.
I was flabbergasted. But satisfied at the same time. I should stick to my game plan and stay focused.