The Match Demands of Australian Rules Football Umpires in a State-Base Competition

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Nathan Elsworthy
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Ben J. Dascombe
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The main purpose of the present study was to quantify the match running demands and physiological intensities of AF field and boundary umpires during match play.


Thirty-five AF umpires [20 field (age: 24.7 ± 7.7 y, body mass: 74.3 ± 7.1 kg, Σ7 skinfolds: 67.8 ± 18.8 mm); 15 boundary (age: 29.6 ± 13.6 y, body mass: 71.9 ± 3.1 kg, Σ7 skinfolds: 65.6 ± 8.8 mm)] volunteered to participate in the study. Movement characteristics [total distance (TD), average running speed, high-intensity activity (HIA; >14.4 km·h–1) distance] and physiological measures [heart rate, blood lactate concentration ([BLa–]), and rating of perceived exertion] were collected during 20 state-based AF matches.


The mean (± SD) TD covered by field umpires was 11,492 ± 1,729 m, with boundary umpires covering 15,061 ± 1,749 m. The average running speed in field umpires was 103 ± 14 m·min-1, and was 134 ± 14 m·min-1 in boundary umpires. Field and boundary umpires covered 3,095 ± 752 m and 5,875 ± 1,590 m, during HIA, respectively. In the first quarter, HIA distance (field: P = .004, η2 = 0.071, boundary: P < .001, η2 = 0.180) and average running speed (field: P = .002, η2 = 0.078, boundary: P < .001, η2 = 0.191) were significantly greater than in subsequent quarters.


The results demonstrate that both AF field and boundary umpires complete similar running demands to elite AF players and are subject to physical fatigue. Further research is warranted to see if this physical fatigue impacts on the cognitive function of AF umpires during match play.

Nathan Elsworthy and Ben J. Dascombe are with Exercise and Sport Science, Faculty of Science and Information Technology, University of Newcastle, Ourimbah, NSW, Australia.

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